Monday, February 26, 2007

Um, don't know what to call this...

I keep meaning to write, every day, several times a day I have stuff to write about. A conversation I had with someone, or an article I read...

Speaking of articles, as many of you know, I read an article about praising children, and how it can have a negative effect on a child's self-esteem, instead of the intended positive effect. Now, I know a couple of you think this is bunkum, but the kind of praise spoken about in the article; praise that is generalised and focuses on an outcome, rather than the process that yielded the out, is the kind of praise I recognise from my own childhood. My parents meant to boost my self-esteem by telling me I was very intelligent, but unbeknowns to them they were actually telling me that because I was so innately intelligent, things ought to come easily to me. This my (intelligent) little mind interpreted as, well if something is difficult then I they must be wrong, I must not really be that intelligent, I must be a fraud. So, began a long career of not attempting anything I might not master quickly, that might then reveal my fraudulent status.

Reading this article has really opened up my eyes. I recognise so many of my own thought processes stemming right back to childhood in the paragraphs of the article. I've realised this is why I've taken so long to get into photography (basically because when I see the excellent work of others I feel I'm not very good, so it's not worth trying because I don't want to look like a fool, I don't want my "intelligent" status to be questioned)... This is also why I'm baulking at writing atm. I've long talked about how I'm really a very good writer, and yet I don't write (how can a writer not write?). I've spent years telling my mum how much I love writing and how I feel I'm pretty good at it, and now I'm really very nervous that she will be my lecturer in a Masters in Writing and she will be the one to shed light on my fraud-ness (new word)... It scares me a lot.
In fact, there really are a lot of things I've given up on because I felt I didn't reach a level of excellence fast enough. And yet, this way of thinking isn't at all logical. Having talent is one thing, natural talent is another way of saying a person has an intuition for something, but intuition doesn't sprout from thin air, first the person needs to be exposed to the subject for their intuition to blossom, if I keep running away from "failure" how will I ever know if I could have been a success in whatever area I persisted with?

So, I've decided to jump off the cliff that has been holding me back from doing the things I love, like photography and writing and knitting and getting to know people I don't necessarily have that much in common with.

My aim is to learn, to "keep at it", and to conquer my fear of being caught out, of failing, of being laughed at by other people who perhaps do have more intelligence or more talent than me.

By not pursuing the things that I love, that make me feel alive, I'm only robbing myself of the enjoyment these things bring into my life.


Rachael said...

Well I for one think your photos are amazing! I always wonder how you get such good photos, and now I know...because you acually love photography and want to do it!

Anyway as you know from my reply on AB I have much felt the same way. One example, I gave up music (played many instruments at school etc) because I didn't want to put in the effort to be the best...but as I've gotten older I love music *so* much that I don't even need/care to be the best anymore.

And I am so scared to go back to work and have someone realise that I know nothing - but at the same time I really want to learn more within my field so I need to get over it. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

So I think as you get older it gets less important to be perfect(I hope), and we do wisen up to doing something purely because we want to, rather than basing our choice on how successful we are going to be at something...

casso said...

I am actually going through a period on my diploma course where I've brought up the no praise issue. And boy did it ruffle feathers!! It's only the first week of uni and already there are threads on the forum with my name in the title...*gulp*. But once it is pointed out to you you just can't help noticing a few things:

1.) How MUCH other people praise children, and for seemingly nothing things as well ("Good swinging!"...I mean, come on, what the?!)

2.) How we as individuals have been affected by praise. I am similar, in that I have always been progressed quickly through humanity subjects, but I found I was just interested in getting good marks and not interested in actually reading and enjoying the literature. What a waste!

3.) How others are dependent on praise even as adults. I have a friend whose partner didn't come and see her when she was sick because he wanted to work late to impress his boss and get praised for it. It's so sad.

But yes, I am hoping that I can work on Harry's school when she's older to implement a few changes (or even work there myself and try them out!). Recognising that factor is such a powerful move, you really are on an intense path this year!

Cheers, Cass
ps - so stoked to see you on Flickr too. ;o)

Good Job!