How to do what you love when you feel judged.

DogLover101 asks: When I was really young, in junior infants (1st grade), I wanted to become an artist. But then halfway through 2nd class, I realized that I couldn’t actually draw, paint, or sculpt like real artists do. One of the reasons that I realized that was because this classmate of mine, who HATES my guts, J, is the class’ best artist – and let me tell you he knows, like he really truly knows… He brags about it, but since I hate him I try to have as little eye contact with him as possible. So after that I decided that I wanted to be a Vet because I really loved animals – and of course my mom was happy with this decision because it meant that I would go to College. My excuse throughout the 4 years was that I wanted to be a Vet, but I really didn’t want to go to College to be something I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy coming to Every. Single. Day. But then after the beautiful Christmas of 2015 my mom bought me…An Art set! It is so professional and the supplies don’t suck… It’s perfect! Of course I tried it out and I love it! Now every time I paint I feel like time stops and it’s just me, my creativity, and my brush. I put all of my paintings up even if they’re not my best work. There’s also this girl K in my class, who follows me and my friends around and tries to fit in. She’s SO annoying; in fact our teacher brought all of the girls in my class up to her desk and said to try to be friends with her. WOAH no! What teacher does that? Anyway she’s also good at Art and surely brags about it as well. And then there’s me…. No one knows that painting is my getaway, nor that it’s my hobby again. They all still think I want to be a Vet. So how do I do this? How do I let people know that I actually am the Art type and kind of be known for it (not in a braggy way)? I’m pretty sure if J and K find out then J will judge me and say I suck while K will either ignore the topic or say it’s good (Too good…). They can draw, but I’m more of a painter and my class does these challenges (for fun) where two people draw against each other, and if I’m challenged to an Art-off, I’m pretty sure I’ll lose and he’ll rub it in my face for the whole year!

Hi Doglover101 –


As you can probably guess, I have a lot to say on this.


First of all, about this girl.  I’m actually on your teacher’s side on this one.  You know, when I was a puppy, I was the most annoying being in the whole world.  Big dogs snapped at me, humans kicked me away, and even Handsome would throw me outdoors for being too much of a pain.  It’s not that I was mean; it’s just that I was so friendly and playful, and so eager for acceptance from everyone, that I did a lousy job of every interaction (or, as Handsome likes to say, “It’s sure a good thing you were so cute then!  That’s the only reason you’re even alive today!”).


I understand she’s annoying, but I’d say to see if there’s a part of her you like.  And if so, befriend that part of her and help her feel more accepted in the class, and see if her annoying parts go away.  (And if they don’t, then you can of course give up on her!).


Then about your thoughts about college.  Even if you become an artist, I really encourage you to consider it.  Even if you take some time off before you go.  It just makes life so much easier for humans these days; and art is a very difficult profession to depend on.  So I’d say to strongly consider pleasing your mom and going to college – even if you end up specializing in Art!  At least you’ll have that achieved.


Okay, now about your art and these other kids.  This will be your future, in any creative endeavor.  There are always self-professed experts in every field.  There are always hangers-on.  There are always others who will tell you you can’t do what you’re trying.


After all, can you imagine what other dogs told me when I said I wanted to do this website?!


So here’s my advice on this.  First of all, Do not stop painting in your own style.  You have a gift – most people don’t get the deep joy you do in painting.  Do NOT let anyone tell you what you’re doing is wrong.  Even in an Art-off keep it in your own style so it’s interesting.  If you choose to study painting seriously, you’ll find professors who will teach you specific styles; there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you keep hold of your own impassioned voice.


You’ve probably heard of Pablo Picasso.  He’s usually considered the greatest painter of the 20th century.  Now if you look at what he painted when he was very young, it was absolutely classical in style.  He was learning skills, collecting them for when he would later explode with styles of his own.  And once he did, nothing in the art world would ever be the same.


Now were there people who told him his style was bad?  Stupid?  Ugly?  Sure!


And will a certain egotistical boy and an overly-eager girl try to get you to change what you’re doing?  Absolutely.


You simply have to be brave.  You have to feel so good about what you’re doing that their stupid comments don’t get in your way.


When Handsome was in college, he was in a writing class, and chose to write a long children’s story in verse.  No one else there was doing anything like that.  When he presented it in class, a very pompous student complained that it was “stupid drivel,” and nothing at all like the intellectual and complex adult works of T.S. Eliot!!  Handsome didn’t take it personally – instead he laughed so hard he fell off his chair.


So if you’re ready now, that’s great.  But if not, keep painting and wait a few months, till you’re really ready.


You have found a treasure.  If you treat it right, it will provide you continual joy for the rest of your life.  And who knows, it could become your job too!  But regardless, honor it and care for it the way you would a puppy or kitten.


The greatest adventure of your life is just beginning!




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