About a year ago I made a deal. A fellow artist and myself agreed to each do a painting of an interest of the other's and then trade them. He followed through almost immediately. I was riddled with self doubt.
PsychedelicBreakfast painted for me a representation of a campfire, and it is awesome! It has been hanging in my kitchen since the day I received it. As soon as I got it I felt inadequate. I thought, "I can't match this". Still, I tried, and the harder I tried the less satisfied I was. I was trying to be creative, trying to outdo myself. My expectations were too high. So, I gave up. Then the messages came in.
"Hey Trav! Hope all is well man! How's the painting coming along?"
Not good. But did I tell him I was having trouble? No. At first I just acted like I was making progress, but I wasn't really making any significant progress. I was just digging the hole deeper. Eventually I pretended like he/it didn't exist. Like it would just go away.
Eventually PsychedelicBreakfast stopped asking. His last message was the first to show some resentment, and rightfully so. "What's up Travis... are you ever going to send a painting man? If not, could you please return my painting? You should have my address. Hope all is well with you. PsychedelicBreakfast."
What an ASSHOLE, I am! In one short message PsychedelicBreakfast summed up the the thing that I have disliked about myself the most for quite a while. An inability to finish something that i start, to stick it out when the going gets tough, to admit when I'm in over my head, and to follow through on something that someone is expecting from me. The part that struck me the most was, "Hope all is well with you." PsychedelicBreakfast has offered these well wishes before, but something about it this time showed some actual concern. He told me, politely, that despite being fucked over he still didn't wish me any Ill will.
So, I stewed over my incompetency for some time. Feeling like a piece of shit, like a disappointment. Eventually, I realized that there was a solution. A painfully obvious solution. Finish a painting for PsychedelicBreakfast. Fourty Six days after his last message I responded. I admitted that I had no excuse, that I would finish a painting for him, and that I was sorry. PsychedelicBreakfast, unsurprisingly, was forgiving, kind, and encouraging. He even apologized for being rude in the last message! Can you believe that shit?! Obviously I told him he did not owe me an apology.
This experience has taught me a great deal about myself and about the kindness of others. I will do my very best not to take advantage of that kindness again. I will not agree to something if I can not follow through. If I agree to something I will follow through to the best of my ability and not let my self-doubt and insecurities get the better of me.
So, I started over, and am in the final stages of the painting. Currently typing this while waiting for a glaze to dry so I can add a few more layers and get it to PsychedelicBreakfast before Christmas. If you read this far, thank you! I don't mean to be somber or overly introspective. I just feel that part of being better at following through is to admit my mistakes, openly. To PsychedelicBreakfast, if you ever read this, thanks! As small as it may seem to some, it really changed my perspective a ton.