May 27, 2014

I Am Not An "Artist" - Profession And Confidence

Identity conceptual view
Identity conceptual view (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For all my life I have been "identified" as an "artist", even though art would be the last profession I would choose (if I had freedom to choose). This, really had been my "life time" problem and once dragged my confidence straight to the bottom.

Don't get me wrong. I love art. Van Gogh's paintings would move me into tears. And occasionally, if I painted something I felt satisfied, I would stare at them for long time. But, I don't think I am that type of artists who could devote their entir lives to art. Very unfortunately, many times in my life, I had to spend too much time doing "art", just for making living. That's why once I called myself "an artist by misfortune".

Now I am not going to write about how I fought with my monstrous fate, instead, I like to touch a little bit about how a person's social identity affect his/her personal confidence.

One of contemporary psychologists (I forgot his name) believed that when people reached their adult life but still did not approve their professions, they would easily get into a troubled state of mind called "professional identity disorder", and it would strongly affect their confidence. I don't know about others, but this theory sounds 200% true to me!

After I entered middle age, I trapped into a job that I would never imagine I would possibly choose: custom portraits. Despite the overwhelming compliments I received everyday, my confidence simply collapsed, especially during the periods that I had no idea how I could escape. During that "dark middle age" I simply could not help to think that my life was a total waste, because what I loved to do, such as pursuing knowledge, pondering the mystery of life, day dreaming, wondering, all had no chance to get into my daily schedules. I also developed a strong psychological problem: social anxiety. I had problem to be with people who I loved to be with, because I had trouble to face their confidence. I also refused to get into any possible love relationships. I blew away numerous beautiful chances, because I simply did not know who I was.

Now, I no longer had such intense sense of lost, because first, I learned to accept the fact that my fate is more powerful than me; second, I found a way to "squeeze" majority of my time for my freedom, during which I don't have to bother with "art". Gradually, I found myself happy, and accordingly, my confidence came along.

I also found, since we humans are social animals, our social confidence would be fully installed inside us when our professional identities approved by both ourselves and others. I had long term problem with my social life, because when I was well accepted by others, I was an "artist" whom was not accepted by myself; when I acted as a "none- artist", (some) people would choose to stay away from me because they did not believe that's who I was (I was gently criticized as "don't know how to appreciate what I have"). This conflict once brought me so much trouble. It is still on going in my current life, but not so much problems any more.

Probably some people don't mind much about what they do, or not do, but I found my happiness is quite closely related to it. I simply cannot imagine myself doing something repetitively like a machine. And the more freedom I have, the happier/more confident I am. I have reason to believe, that our true confidence is in direct proportion to our happiness. From this point of view, logically, we could say that our professions, which take majority time of our lives, do affect the overall quality of our lives, thus our happiness and our confidence, more or less, directly or indirectly.

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