I took the brush in my hand, feeling its unfamiliar shape and weight. Hard white bristles bent under my fingers as I tried to soften them before dipping them into the gray paint. Then I stroked the canvas, covering up the print of seashells with my own paint, printing instead the dissolvance of my fear. Other colors - red, orange, lime green, dark aqua - were brushed onto the gray. Yet it was not enough. It was too safe. I still had a bit of fear left. White paint now tipped the white bristles of the brush, and I tentatively flicked the brush away from me. A few drops hit the canvas. I flicked the brush again, less tentative. The drops became closer to what I was looking for. I flung the brush back and forth, joy bubbling up inside as all fear was flung away onto the canvas.
I was painting. I was having fun. And when I stepped back and looked at the finished product, confidence filled me where fear had been present before. And I had discovered a new hobby.
I am sometimes afraid to try new things. Painting was one of them. I associated acrylic paints with the finger-painted masterpieces of my childhood and watercolor with paint-by-number pages. I did not believe I could create anything that would remotely look good. A memory of a 2-day art course I participated in when I was in junior high also haunted me. I had drawn (and painted) what I thought was a good piece of art. The instructor, someone who created art for a living, gave me a poor "grade" on it and said I needed a lot of improvement. After that, I did not touch art until my last semester of high school, when I took a drawing class at my local college. There, I discovered I loved working with charcoal, and I received good grades and lots of compliments from the professor and other students on my charcoal work. But painting? Working with black and white is one thing, many colors a whole other realm. A realm I was afraid to touch because I was afraid to fail.
But fear of failure must be overcome. One does not improve in life without constantly conquering the fear of failure and rejection. If I can conquer my fear of rejection and apply to jobs or conquer my fear of failure and participate in competitions, then certainly I can conquer my fear of failure with trying something I have never tried before. Even with something I have dabbled in before but failed at, I may have a new understanding of that will allow me to succeed.
Even if that success is simply one that is only good enough to hang on my own wall and no one else's, it is still a success - a conquering of fear - and a step in the right direction.