A Life Update…

I will be honest. I have been struggling. Been feeling stuck, lost, unmotivated as Gurm the artist. I see the ideas in my head, but every time I want to bring it to vision, my hands shake and I lose my confidence. I want to write these words but am scared of how people will react when they read them. I want to record a video but can’t seem to set up the camera. It’s a natural feeling, I know. It happens with the best of the creatives. So, I have been really reflecting on all that and hence this post.

There are three types of artists. And I am guilty of having been all three.

The first one feels the pressure and turns that competition into inspiration. How dare you feel unmotivated? This is supposed to come naturally to you. Just pick up that pen or brush and start – force it if you have to. You need to plant the seed and look how your plant will bloom. Look at other people posting consistently, putting themselves out there, and getting results. And you? You are just going to sit there and get nothing done. What kind of creator does that? Get up and do it. Come on. You can get those results too, you know. Just be sure not to make any mistakes. Sometimes that works, it motivates you and you get going and actually produce some of your best work. But sometimes it doesn’t. Forcing something that doesn’t come from your soul and you are just creating for the sake of creating makes the block worse and you sink deeper and deeper.

Then there are those who are actually less interested in how much they produce and more interested in how much they can explore through their art. Going to places never seen before and creating those pieces that have never been created. Learning something new. Discovering a new path on the adventure. Just taking that risk. That is a fun way for an artist to just play. This has helped me many a times to just enjoy the feeling of art again and gaining my confidence back. But it is also a risk, trying something new and knowing that it might not work. And maybe this can’t become your style.

The third one is the safe way. Being in your comfort zone and coming back to it now and again because you just need that safe space. That feeling that you can’t go wrong with it, and it will relax you. It feels like home. But the thing is: do you want to limit yourself and stay there? It feels good but eventually you will urge to want to do something different.

Each path has its pros and cons. And it is to each their own to decide which way to go. You see, you need to nurture your creative pot with the right amount of water, air and sunlight. Too much and it withers. And too less and it will not grow. Need that balance. Would love to know: what works for you when you get this feeling? How do you find yourself again?

Facing the fear of the unknown

I love to grow, learn, develop, experiment and explore as an artist. Try new things. Get out of my box. Get inspired by that new style or materials and my heart thinks “I want to do that too”. Dream about something I have always wanted to draw (but haven’t yet) and suddenly have the urge to just go for it.

But then the fear and insecurities of the unknown creep up on me. I just want to stay in my warm comfortable blanket and not go out and face the wind and changing of the seasons. I just want to stay in the shallow part of my art pool and not climb up the diving board and dive into the deep part. But I know if I don’t, then I will be stuck in the same place. I won’t be able to evolve.

So, like any new thing I do, I take it slow. Step by step, day by day. If I can’t go out and face the wind, I get out of bed and get dressed. If I can’t gather up the courage to go up to the board, I swim a little deeper (just a little), from the shallow part I am in. If my hands shake just thinking about attempting that particular style, I draw just one stroke, and leave the rest for the next day. And that is enough. That is more than enough. Because it is progress. It is not nothing.

The beautiful thing about this is that you get better each day. You learn something new about yourself. That hard, difficult stuff, those feelings of doubt, soon melt away. And if you don’t get it right the first time, or even second time, you pick yourself up and try again. And again. You do it because you don’t fear the unknown anymore, you are starting to enjoy it.  And as time passes, and you patiently go through it step by step, it doesn’t feel new anymore. It becomes a part of you. And now you are ready for the next new thing on your list.

The Social Media Journey

As an artist and content creator, for me, posting on social media is an important part of what I do.

Ahh…social media and its standards. You need to put your best foot forward, show only the good days and good life you are living. You need to edit the photos, have good lighting, can’t have that strand of hair seeming out of place, can’t show your artwork with that color like that. You need to plan your posts word by word so it is well written. See the timing of the post so it can go viral and reach the maximum number of people. Follow the rules. Be picture perfect.

And then there is being an artist and its standards. Be vulnerable. Show the behind the scenes and work in progress, natural and unedited. Express your human feelings and emotions. Go with the flow, play, experiment and explore. The right time to post is now, in this moment. The people who want to see it will. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, find your own unique creative expression. Be your perfectly imperfect self.

The truth is… I find the balance between both. I do what works for me, how I feel comfortable. And you should do the same.  You know what, the ride is not easy. Some days there are bumps on the road and you get stuck in a big traffic jam. Other days you are the only one on the road and it is a smooth flow. Some days it can feel really daunting and other days it feels so amazing.

That’s a part of the journey. And that is what makes it so beautiful and interesting- travelling through all kinds of weather, all kinds of paths. The important thing is to keep trying, you will get there. Another important thing is to know when to step away. There are days when I don’t post or engage and just need to step away for a bit and that is completely ok.

When I see other people’s posts and achievements on social media, I don’t see it as competition, I see it as inspiration. I don’t feel jealous, I feel hopeful. That is the beauty of being connected by humanity- we all have struggles, and we all have accomplishments. We all have low days and we all have high days. So why not support and encourage each other?

Fear and Courage: Opposites That Go Hand In Hand

Following your passion. Listening to your heart. Doing what you really enjoy. Making something you love into a career. That is the path I chose when I decided to pursue art and content creation full time. The decision for me was both full of fear and courage, both simple and difficult. Fear and courage, two opposites and yet they go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.

Fear is often looked at as a negative word. It keeps us from fulfilling our purpose. It holds us back. It freezes us. It gives us a million reasons why not to do that thing. Why not to start a conversation with that person. Why not to dive deep into that situation. But, fear can also be positive. It is what leads us to discover our strengths. It is what gives us the power to overcome, and triumph over it. It allows us to discover our determined side. It brings us to courage.

The courage to take a risk. The courage to embrace uniqueness. The courage to challenge the way things are done by the book. The courage to do what may seem strange to others, but for you it’s normal. The courage to show people that what they thought was impossible is actually I am possible.

For me, this battle between fear and courage resulted in courage taking the victory. And though, still today, sometimes the fear lingers for a while, courage eventually overpowers it.

So, the real question is what will you do? Will you let the fear of society stop you or will you follow your calling? The choice is yours.

Dealing with Failures and Disappointments

As both an artist and human, I have faced failures and disappointments. There are times when the things and situations that you were so sure would work (for me that includes collaborations, trying a new idea for a painting, the audience’s positive reaction, being strong confident me), end up not working out at all (events getting cancelled, a totally messy work, different views of opinions, me freezing and being speechless). And in those cases, sometimes it really hurts. It stings. You feel helpless and frustrated. And that is understandable and natural. That is a part of being human.

But once the shock wears off, you realize that these things happened for a reason, even if you may not see it in the moment. There was a purpose for this, it was protecting you from something and leading you to something bigger and better. These failures make you stronger. These disappointments teach you a life lesson, and if you are comfortable, you can inspire other people with it. These rejections show you that you need to keep going, even if it feels hard.

And as you experience life more and more, and interact more and more with different kinds of people, it gets easier. You realize this is just a part of life. You win some, you lose some. There are some people you realize you won’t fit well with if you collaborate and there are other people that you feel that click with in just one conversation. There are ideas that won’t turn into reality, and there are ideas that turn out much better than you could have ever imagined. There are moments of insecurities and there are moments of strength. Whatever life throws at you, you will get through it. Just like you have before. Just keep going.

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Being comfortable with stepping into the uncomfortable. Being confident in taking one step out of your safe place. Attempting something you have never done before or re-attempting something that once failed in order to grow and develop. Experimenting with something new just to see what happens. Doing it even when you have no idea what the result will be. Stepping out of your comfort zone. It is terrifying. It takes guts.

You hear contradicting voices in your head. One says “I am already proud of you just for making the decision to go for it. You got this!”. And the other says “Are you crazy? What do you think you are doing? This is never going to work”.

The question is: which voice will you let win? Will you stay in your safe place, I am comfortable, I am going to avoid that first step on that scary path? Or will the determined side of you come out and you will decide to go on that walk and explore a new way?

For me, I have had both experiences. As an artist, my comfort zone is… that’s right, you guessed it, patterns. And that will always be my happy, safe, the thing I return to place. It comes naturally to me, it is fun, it is easy. And the other stuff is not as easy. Not that I don’t love it- I enjoy every bit of it. But it takes more time to figure out, more effort, more attempts to make it.

But, it is all worth it. Whenever we start something new, it is not easy, right? But as we practice more and more, it soon becomes part of your comfort zone. It doesn’t feel that terrifying or “omg, I have to do that now” anymore. It becomes a routine. And that walk on a new pathway is actually beautiful, a change for the better, an expansion of yourself and your work.

So I will keep exploring and experimenting as both an artist and person. What about you?

My Inner Critic and Inner Artist are friends

Today (the day I am writing this) was one of those days. The day I didn’t feel like doing anything. Whatever I tried to do, it felt like I messed everything up. The words aren’t coming out right, I didn’t post today, the canvas is not looking good, I don’t want to vlog, and I tried to apply for that opportunity but couldn’t bring myself to. The day my inner critic was at its strongest, the day I feel like giving up. The day I should take as a sign to slow down, breathe, take it one step at a time, but I put pressure on myself to accomplish something. Anything. At least finish one task. Just sort this out already. There has to be something you can complete successfully. I want to go back in my safe cocoon, just hide away and escape from the world.

But then I hear my inner artist voice. A quiet but super strong whisper. Right at the tip of my tongue, trying to get out. So I clear my mind and listen to what it says. It is asking me “what do you need?”.  It is telling me “I am not the opposite of your inner critic. We can actually all cooperate together”.

My inner critic. The one that gives me tough love. The one that tells me that “today your emotions are a little much and that’s ok. You just need a break.” The one that helps me overcome the obstacles and fight the battles. The one that shows me that like life, art is not all black and white. It’s ok to be in a grey area. It’s ok to try something new and fail. It’s ok to have doing nothing days.

My inner artist. The one that says take that pressure, take those expectations, take that fear, take that guilt and turn it into a piece of creativity. Honor those human feelings and give it a little extra love and care. Take that creative risk. Forget everything and everyone else for a minute and do something just for yourself. Cherish these moments without any labels (they are not good or bad, they are not beautiful or ugly), just be.

And so I listen. I listen to both the critic and artist, I listen to my heart and gut and take my next step from there.

The next time you hear your inner critic or inner artist, stop what you are doing and just listen. Let your instinct do its thing. Go with the flow. The answers will come. And you will know what to do.

How I Embraced My Authentic Self and Why You Should Too

I used to be the person who had two personas- the public one and the private one. In public, I used to put on a mask, behave the way I was expected to, say the things that were considered “right” , hide some sides of me because I thought nobody would accept me like that. I thought it was better to be like this than be judged, than open up about my feelings, than have those conversations.

In private, I would be my real true authentic self. The person who I really was, just embracing every strength and every flaw, every struggle and every success, every smile and every tear. I was ok being vulnerable like that with my close ones. 100% Gurm. And that still took every ounce of courage, just in private. Imagine if I had to do it in public. No way!

But then… something happened. The two sides of me became exhausting. It was a sign telling me to stop this act, to take off the mask and show my face to the world. Say to everyone, “this is me, all of me. Accept me or not, like me or not, judge me or not, I am done hiding”.  I am done hiding because that mask doesn’t feel like me, it doesn’t feel right in my gut. I am done hiding because I can’t keep living like this anymore. I am done hiding because instead of feeling content, I feel empty.

And once I took off that mask, you know what happened? I found myself again.  I had the courage to become candid, honest. I made the decision to be vulnerable and show the human side of me. I started feeling happier and more fulfilled. I found my calling. I truly started to enjoy life and understand myself, others and the world.

No, I didn’t do it for attention or likes. No, I didn’t do it for others to feel pity for me. I didn’t do it because that is how it is supposed to be done. I did it because I realized what I had been through is probably what someone is going through right now or will go through one day. I did it because I knew telling my story can help someone, can inspire someone. Even if it touches only one soul, it is enough.

Something you wish you had heard when you were going through that situation, that is what people need to hear when they are going through that same situation. And they need to hear that from you! So take off that mask. Go all in. No matter where. No matter what. No matter the time or place or who you are with. Be 100% yourself and go spread your beautiful light. And remember “embrace uniqueness”.

Reframing Limiting Beliefs: Finding hope during the low days

Limiting beliefs. “I am not feeling the best today” days. We all go through them. I do too, especially as a creator. Being mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually invested in every piece of art I create, the mind has some pretty intense thoughts (both positive and negative) at times.

There are some days that are a total joy ride, I am loving this, don’t ever stop, sunshine, happy days. Then there are other I need to take a break, I need to step away from this, this is getting too much, hands shaking, tears flowing days. And there are normal average in between days.

When I first began my art journey, the mental blocks, the negative thoughts, the criticism really bothered me. I mean REALLY affected me to the point that I wanted to give up before I even got somewhere.

Now, as I am writing this, I realize that I am human. I am content in being perfectly imperfect. As an artist, I choose to be vulnerable and personal and share that with the world. And while I still get those limiting beliefs (less frequently than before), over the years, I have learned to embrace them, the best way to get through a feeling is to feel it. And why not turn that emotion into a lesson of growth? Why not reframe that critical thought into something positive?

Let me give you some examples:

Thought: I am a total failure. That didn’t work. Will I ever be able to create something worthwhile again? What even was the point of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying that new thing? It’s useless. How do I even call myself an artist after this?

Reframed thought:  Failure in my work means I took the step out of my comfort zone, and I learned and grew from it. It does not mean I am a failure. It means I am brave to try new things and explore and experiment. It was a success because now I know what works and what doesn’t.  And it was my first time trying this, I did pretty well. Now that I think about it, it was actually really fun. And that’s what art is truly about: having fun.

Thought: Oh great, here we go with the criticism again. It hurts. They didn’t like it. That means probably no one will like it. So, basically I created a horrible work. All my time and effort has been for nothing. Maybe I should just throw the piece away.

Reframed thought:  Hmm.. that is someone’s perception and interpretation. After all, Art is subjective right? When I put my work about there, I leave it open for people to understand the meaning they want. Not everyone will like it and that’s ok. There are also people out there who like it.

That point is actually valid. That piece of criticism is constructive. I can use it to improve my work. After all, as an artist, I strive to learn everyday. I see now that that is their way of encouraging and supporting me.

Thought: It is not worth it to share my work. Why would anyone be interested in what I have to show? There is so much beautiful work already out there. And my work is different, and that’s weird. No no no, I am not clicking the post button. Bad idea. And plus, it took a while to create that, and people will that as a struggle, they will think I am slow. And I am not ready to share every detail of the story yet, and people would see that as weak. It is not worth it.

Reframed thought: My work is unique, it is the essence of my heart and soul. Is it scary to share? Yes. Is it scary to open up to the world? Yes. I don’t have to share everything all at once. I can keep some of the parts to myself. But I will share the parts and open up with what I am comfortable with opening up about. I will take it step by step and go at my own pace. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. My work has the power to spread beauty, love and smiles and inspire others both creatively and in life. My work has the power to make the world a better place. And it is worth every second of the hard work, effort and struggles. I am confident in myself because I love my work. And that is the most important perspective.

The next time you go into that “not so good” place or your mind starts playing tricks on you, just remember its ok. It is part of your journey, it is leading you to a beautiful rainbow. There is a reason for it. Take a deep breath and look for something positive, something hopeful in it. You got this. And you are definitely worth it.

Don’t Compare, Get Inspired: Overcoming The Imposter Syndrome and Finding Your Tribe

As artists, with every post, we express vulnerability, share a part of our soul. As you create more and more, you become more and more comfortable with that sharing. As you evolve as an artist, your ability to express yourself in a candid way grows. It is symbolic of your deeper inside self.

There’s a part of you that fears judgement, criticism. You are going public with your work and anyone can see and give their opinion, compare you to other creators, say “you could have done that differently”. Forget others, even you tend to go into that imposter syndrome sometimes. Thoughts like “there are so many talented artists in the world, their work is amazing, and look at me- I am nothing”.  You need to overcome that to share your art. I had to come to terms with that.

How did I get to that point where I can manage these feelings, these insecurities much better than I did a few years ago? The connection of humanity. Despite everyone’s talent, we are all people. And that makes us all equal. We all feel the same things, and we all pour those emotions into our creations. We all share our light and uniqueness in the world.

I used to feel that the level of talent, the beautiful creations would be a gap between us, we would have fierce competition, but it actually brought us closer. We could connect easily with each other. Instead of competition, we are each other’s friends and supporters, we find inspiration from each other.

You don’t need be any more than who you are. Don’t compare, get inspired. Stay your authentic self. Your growth and improvement are a reflection of your personality, nothing more, nothing less.

I had to learn how to simply be my authentic self. That’s it. I had to learn how to stop trying so hard to be special, let go of my ego, stop comparing myself to others. I had to go “I may not have the same technical skills as that artist, or I may not be part of the exhibition or magazine that they are part of but its ok”. I am me. I have my own path, my own resume. I can still get inspired and learn something. How did they do that cool color blending? How did they engage people in their posts? How did they convey that message in the work? And what is it about their work that makes me go “wow, I love it”? How is it relatable?

Break away from the artist’s point of view and just look at it like a viewer. Recognize them as human. They are also struggling just like you are. They are also celebrating their wins just like you are. You are no greater or worse than anyone else you admire. You are human. And in the end, that’s the most important thing. Being able to connect from one human to another.