I wanted to study art in college but my father persuaded me not to. “You’re not going to be able to make a living doing that Betsy,” he told me, and I know now that he was right. But at the time I didn’t want to hear that. I interpreted his message as “I wasn’t good enough.” Those early judgements can become the positive self-image we embrace or the limited, stifling perception we rail against for a lifetime.
Turns out though Dad was right about me not being good enough too. I hadn’t put in my hours as an artist and truth be told, I didn’t REALLY know what I wanted to do for a living back then. I just picked something I enjoyed.
So while I studied science, and later, business, I started putting in my hours. I studied art, I painted, I taught classes. And I developed myself as an artist. There is no easy path for this. When people ask me “how long did it take to paint that?” I want to respond “all my life” because that’s how long I’ve been practicing. Each painting is the culmination of every hour I’ve painted and every lesson I’ve learned along the way.
So while Dad was right about me in the beginning, I didn’t accept that his opinion had to remain true, even as much as I valued it. I committed to the work quietly and stayed with it for the long term (I’ve been painting since I was 10)
In his later years my father developed dementia and I ultimately left my “safe” job to work in a creative arts program for people with Alzheimer’s. It’s come full circle in a way. He dissuaded me from pursuing a career in art to protect me when I was young. And I’m pursuing a career in art now to help him have a better quality of life.
Never give up on your dreams.