Here was the best part: Sitting on the couch, with Gangs of New York playing in the background (because I've never seen it); he was drawing, I was writing. Each of us, working side-by-side in the mediums that best suit us, being creative.
Here was the worst part: trying to talk about this project together and feeling a negative response in my body, a physical rejection. Squirmy, uncomfortable tension. What was this? Are we not suited to work together? Nope, don't think that's it. Are we communicating well? Could use some work, but no, that's not it either... Do I believe that the project has potential? Actually, yes. Do I believe that I deserve to spend large amounts of time and money (preferably other people's) on this project? To risk failure in the pursuit of success? Wait: To risk actually being successful?
Dreaming is comfortable. Imagining is easy. Coming up with the concept for this project is fun. What's not fun, at least for me, is starting to hammer out practical details, especially budgeting. Partly because this drags the project from the safe confines of my "wouldn't it be nice if..." imagination into the arena of actual hard work. And also because to put this much time and belief and hard work into a project that's based around my creative work means that I'm making a bold statement. I'm saying:
"I believe in my work and I believe that it's worth showcasing. I believe that it deserves to be seen and heard by a larger audience and I believe that time and money should be sent in order to make that a reality. Not only my time and money, but that of someone I love, and also the time and money of complete strangers as well. I have not only the creativity to come up with the original concept, but the drive and ambition and hard-headed stubbornness to see it through to completion. I know that it will be hard, that we will run up against stumbling blocks, but we will keep going. And we will embrace success, and strive for it, and not be comfortable with safe mediocrity."
This is fucking terrifying.
I'm realizing that I don't believe in myself deep down as much as I thought. And now I've met someone who thinks that our combined skills will create something amazing, but he's in it to win it, as they say. So goodbye comfort zones and hello risk. It's not that we're betting the farm (we're applying for a grant of sorts, so the risk isn't financial); the risk is in taking the leap of faith that we are worth it. This little fish is going to dip her fins in bigger ponds if she's lucky. And I'm realizing that sharks aren't the problem in these deeper waters (if I may continue with the fish metaphor for a minute). The biggest problem could be me.
Here's where uncomfortable self-awareness is a good thing though; at least I can pinpoint the problem. When I feel myself getting tense I know why it's happening and I can take steps to relax. Today that meant going for a run- no better way to work off tension than to tire yourself out. Stop thinking: turn on some hip hop and wear out your muscles for a while. Building good exercise habits also builds more pride in myself: if I can accomplish a workout I can also accomplish other things. Focusing on small goals rather than getting overwhelmed by the big picture is also important.
It's a big deal, believing in yourself. And it's never easy. I'm actually really glad that this project has highlighted how much I still need to grow, because I'd gotten a bit complacent about it.
Maybe we won't get everything we're hoping for out of this project. But if I don't start believing that it's worth trying for, it'll sputter out like a hundred other half-baked ideas and dreams have done. I want to at least go down fighting this time. And if I commit to that, if I believe that I deserve to put time and energy into my creative work then who knows what could happen? It's terrifying and exhilarating to think about.