• Mary

The Fear of Being Bad

Snakes and spiders give me the willies, but my deepest fear is the fear of being bad.

Bad at my work, bad at my art, bad at running my small business, bad at anything.

The thought of trying something new and not being an immediate expert at it throws me into crippling anxiety before I’ve even began. It’s what has held me back from new experiences and new hobbies (Matt: I promise I’ll force myself to learn to play that guitar someday), as that strike of fear builds and buries a pit so large and so impenetrably deep in my being that I cannot simply push it aside or attempt to pluck it out. I am, at my core, a strong Enneagram 1 - The Perfectionist, The Idealist, The Reformer.

What that means is that I strive for perfection (or near perfection) in everything I do. That looks like a kitchen sink that is never full of dirty dishes, a perfectly made bed every morning and not being able to fall asleep without the day’s messes properly put away.

It also looks like stalled Making Up Mary projects, a lack of social media posts, failure to promote events and creativity burnouts.

I have such big dreams for this small art business of mine, and I’m grateful to have begun checking big ticket dreams off of my bucket list less than one year after I opened my virtual business doors.

  • Making my first sale: check.

  • Completing my first commission (and many more since): check.

  • Completing my first 100-day project: check.

  • Holding my first booth at a Raleigh makers market: check (and check, and check).

And while I’ve allowed myself brief, internal celebrations for each check mark, the perfectionist inside of me rarely allows herself to take the time to really relish in those victories—victories that look minor on paper but are huge strides to a small art business just starting out.

In truth, I believe my reluctance to celebrate those mile markers lies in that deep rooted fear of being bad.

“Your first sale was probably just out of pity…”

“Your only commission orders are from people you’ve met, so those don’t mean as much…”

“You missed your 100-day deadline and didn’t grow your Instagram audience during it like you had planned, so the project was a failure…”

“You’re not selling as much product as your fellow makers at local markets…”

The perfectionist inside of me can spew some real damaging self-talk. I think that’s something many others can relate to, maybe even you.

So why am I writing all of this down? Why does it matter that you read this? Honestly, I guess it’s not really about you. I am here because at the start of 2021 I set an intention: “I will not break promises I make to myself.”

Making Up Mary has been one of the biggest, scariest and most intentional promises I made to myself: a designated space to share my art and grow my passion. I love every moment of it, but I need to stop holding myself back out of fear that I or my business will not be good enough.

I want to start videoing my process of creating so that I can share fun and engaging behind-the-scenes content on my social platforms.

I want to worry less about sharing pricing structures with my clients because my time is valuable and that personalized piece of art took me hours of work from concept to completion.

I want to push myself to meet and make friends with my fellow Raleigh makers because these women around me are unbelievably inspiring and their passion is infectious, even through a screen.

I want to care less about numbers (of sales, of followers, of likes or shares) and more about the love of the art.

I want to get my butt back into the pottery studio and stop being fearful of my pots not being “the best pots” because how in the world could they be after so much time away?

I want to continue to grow Making Up Mary into this business I love and one that you can come to as a space for beautiful, nature-inspired art.

I have a long journey ahead. I’m so thankful for those who have stood by me and supported me whether that was via a purchase, a “like” or “share,” long hours spent in the heat at a makers market (my family is amazing) or through kind words of encouragement.

A perfectionist is in constant search of the words “you are good.”

Making Up Mary, you are good.

Love, your fearful yet fearless creator.


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