In every process from weight loss to parenting to learning art, you start out as a beginner.
Most of us try to put our best face forward and focus on our accomplishments. But that can make being a beginner hard. We want to be good at something FAST. But there is an inherent lesson in learning. We strengthen our confidence through struggling. When you’re just beginning a process bad is good. It means you’re showing up. It means you’re trying.
My Photoshop skills today are at an expert level. I’ve taught many people how to use the program. But when I first started learning, it was HARD. I spent months doing every single exercise in a dozen photoshop books. It was akin to bashing my head against a brick wall. But I kept pushing. Every exercise, every page, I focused on the task at hand. I wanted to make Photoshop something I was good at. I knew I couldn’t skip the actual work at get where I wanted to go.
Today, Photoshop is my happy place.
It’s therapy. It’s mindful and mindless at the same time. We tend to forget that with practice, even the hardest task becomes easier.
I’d say it took about three months to feel like I knew my way around, six months to feel proficient, and a year to feel like it was painless.
The same approach can be applied to weight loss. And dating. And parenthood. And sharing your life with pets. At some point, when you show up everyday, hard becomes easier. Bad becomes better. Better becomes good. Good becomes proud.
I’ve recently started making use of my extensive craft supplies. Now that I have a retail store and the space for a workshop it’s pretty exciting. I’ve been making word collages in Photoshop for years. But I wanted to make something physical. However I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t trust my art skills in a new medium.
These are my first two efforts.
And while they are cute and pleasing to the eye, I wanted to add another level of depth. I’ve always admired hand lettering. I hand lettered a vintage poster years ago, but it was a huge trial and I’ve shied away from it since.
Lately, I’ve been itching to use my hands to make real three dimensional art.
And I gazed longingly at some hand-lettered art. I haven’t taught myself a new skill in some time and almost turned my back on this thinking,
I can’t possibly learn to do this well. I don’t have time. Maybe I don’t have the skill. Either way, it will never work.
But then I remembered that with the struggle of learning something new comes a stronger sense of self. There’s a satisfaction that builds you up when you replace ignorance with knowledge. Every struggling step forward makes you proud because you’re TRYING.
I started with a quote Joe had seen. “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” I knew I wanted a cupcake in the middle. And though I’m not at all comfortable in watercolor, I decided to try.
I’ve been studying hand lettering. I’ve been trying. I’ve done several unsatisfactory sketches but I keep trying.
If the only way you start is to trace to copy, do it. But keep your dream-eye on tweaking your process so that eventually you’re making it your own. This process works for losing weight as well. If you’re looking to start, talk to a friend and find a plan that mirrors your comfort level. Always seek to make the process yours. We do this with parenting all the time. We consult with parents with more experience (our own parents or a sibling or friend with older children) and it helps jump start a plan.
Pretty soon you’ll look up from your work and wonder why you didn’t start trying sooner.
Being bad at something can be good food for your soul. Being bad means at some point you’ll be better.