Turning “I can’t” into “I can”

Photo credit, Cassia Abbott


There is nothing like a migraine in the morning to get you thinking about what you can and can’t do. As I lay in bed today, I began writing this blog post in my mind to get it off the pain in my head. I’ve always been a bit pessimistic about what I’m capable of, and there have been many things that I have failed to do because I didn’t think they were possible. I have listed a few of these mental obstacles I have gotten through and a few I am still working on.

  1. “I can’t ever be as good an artist as…A, B, or C.” Most of my young life the A, B, and C were my family members. This is one of the downsides to being the youngest with several talented older siblings and an artistic mother. In college it was easy to compare myself to my teachers and, of course, my classmates. The fact of the matter is, that no matter how good of an artist you become, there is always someone else that will be better than you at something. The key is to learn from other artists instead of comparing yourself to them. Strive to do the best art you can do, not the best art some other artist can do.
  2. “I can’t do art after I have a child.” Several people implied that a child would bring a halt to my creativity and to be honest, I believed it. I did six paintings during the pregnancy of our first child because I didn’t think that I was going to be able to do any art for a long time after he was born. I also didn’t do any art for a year after my son was born because I didn’t think I could. It wasn’t because it was impossible, it is because I believed it was. I will admit that doing art with a baby is more difficult, but once I started painting again, I realized that it is completely possible.
  3. “I can’t do art because of my living situation.” We are currently living in a small camper and that provides some unique hurdles to overcome when you are doing oil paintings. I didn’t think that I would have adequate lighting or that I had space to keep my paintings safe as they dried. Because I couldn’t do oil painting easily, I gave up on all art and watched way too much Netflix all summer. I could have done more sketches or watercolors during this time but I didn’t. This fall I finally had enough of not painting and found some creative solutions so that I can oil paint in our camper.

There are a few things that we just cannot do, but they are very few. Maybe they are things you can’t do without help. That doesn’t mean they are impossible, it just means that you need a community around you to support you emotionally or physically. Involving others in your creative process adds to your work instead of taking from it.

Maybe there are some things you can’t do, yet. Don’t give up. Believe that what you want to create has purpose and meaning and is worth doing a few times in order to get it right. As Zig Ziglar said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly–until you can learn to do it well.”

I’m learning that I should never say that I can’t do something if I haven’t at least tried to do it first. Please comment on this post how you have turned “I can’t,” into “I can.”

About cherith@aspencreekart.com

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