Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Sometimes Words Can Make You Feel small

Whatever happened to Mister Baldi?

I recently thought of him and his influence on my life as a young woman many years ago. I once knew this well known motivational speaker who often times traveled around the United States to tell his feel-good stories. Stories that made him look and feel good, but very rarely made the people he spoke about feel good.

The way he spoke in his sometimes quite charming manner, was actually quite enamoring. I remember sitting in his presence many times, leaning forward, hanging on to every word he said. Sometimes his eyes would seem to stop when they connected to mine and would linger there for a word.. and he'd let the word hang, while he held my glance and then move on.

I wondered if others noticed that it was my eyesight he caught while I would nervously nod my head up and down to encourage him. Like I was clapping silently with my head.

But then one day, in one of his speeches he spoke about me.

And nothing was ever the same again.

He never spoke my name, but he described me in such various detail, I knew it was me.

Hearing his story about how I was just a girl who would always just be a Wanna-Be and would never make it as an artist made my entire head sweat. He was my mentor. Someone I hugely looked up to and admired.

"What if what he said was true and my whole life as an artist is a false? What if all I am is a Wanna-Be?"

Fastforward twenty years later and apparently everything he said about me wasn't true afterall. I've made my living as a professional artist all this time, yet sometimes in the stillness of the night, I hear his story about me in my memory and shudder. I now work harder... I labor longer... because of his words.

Isn't it amazing how mighty words are? Once they're spoken, you really can't take it back.

A dear friend of mine recently said this to me about the story I just told and I'm only repeating them to you because I believe these are words for you, too.

Memorize this. Paperclip this to your heart, mind and spirit:


I know you already know this, but I'm going to say it anyway. Nobody cares about those words, except you. And that's because they hurt you. But those words have nothing to do with you and everything to do with his ugliness and bitterness. They are not the result of what you were or what you are; they are the result of what he is. This belief that you struggle with all the time—it isn't yours. It's like some crappy spell he put on you with his words. You formed a belief about yourself based on his cruelty, not based on what is true.

Let me tell you something, my beautiful friend: you have always been an artist. It is in your heart. Let no one tell you anything different. Remind yourself a thousand times a day who and what you are. Your opinion is the only one that matters. Whether you are making millions with your talent or keeping it all to yourself, you are an artist. No matter what.


I repeat her words to myself a million times over and over and over. I have embroidered her words into my heart. And soul.

Is there someone in your life that has made you small? And brought you down?

If so, remember this: Don't take it personally. It's not about you. It's about them. Read those wise words written above and seal them in your heart.

Being an artist isn't easy. We are constantly hit with criticism and various views and critiques on our work. It would be easier to be a door greeter at Walmart or perhaps an egg sniffer at a chicken farm. Though it may not be as rewarding.

No, not nearly as rewarding.


c h e l said...

Wow. You just changed my entire life's outlook, the direction I was headed.

Thank you.

Monica said...

That was an awesome, awesome post and I feel like it was perfect timing for me to read it. Thank you for sharing that, thank you for the inspiration it gives, and thank you for being the wonderful artist that you are! No one can take that way from you.

danny said...

Those are such wise words, both yours and your friend's. You are definitely wise 'old' souls...

Dave's blog said...

Shawn, You are more amazing than when I first met you, over 20 years ago! You have always been an artist, whether you used a pen, or a brush, a hug, or just your wonderful words. I would love you just as much if you washed cars, sold records door to door, or were a real, live cowgirl.
Thanks for being my friend,

ValGalArt said...

I have had this very thing happen to me in a similar kind of way, a few times actually and in the stillness as I am trying to prove I am good I wonder if I would have tried as hard if I had been told all those years ago that I was good? Excellent post my friend and beautiful words to remember from the ones who do believe in you, your friends and yourself!