Art and Fear

Jenna Davis

In my life, I try to do the whole vulnerability thing, so here goes:

In my life, I try to do the whole vulnerability thing, so here goes:

I'm afraid.



I said it. 

It's out there.


A group of friends and I were chatting last night about life and what we're currently struggling with--my biggest struggle being self-discipline and procrastination.  One friend had some particularly good insight, which then became the inspiration for this blog post.

I was sharing about how I really enjoy making & designing clothes and want my Gemma business to succeed, yet I always end up putting off projects or finding other things to do instead of what I know I could be doing to help my business grow.

Then he asked the question, "Where do you think that resistance comes from?"

I immediately knew the answer was fear.

So I said, "It's fear. I think I'm just afraid."

Then, he dug a bit deeper with, "What are you afraid of?"

I again, immediately knew the answer.

"I'm afraid my dream is too big. I'm afraid it won't succeed. I'm afraid no one will like or want to buy the things I make."

Fear is an interesting thing.

There have to be about a billion and a half inspiring quotes out there about overcoming fear- and I've probably pinned half of them on a Pinterest board somewhere.  There are tv shows that revolve around fear, being scared, or taking risks, and entire movie categories related to fear. There are at least 103 mentions of fear in the Bible(and probably more, but I haven't actually counted).

Of course, each of us have different internal struggles, and sometimes, very personal fears. But, it seems we all deal with our fears in two ways:

We either run from them(they somehow always catch, sneaky little things!)  

or we turn to face them.


I want to be a fear-facer. (Yes, I made up that word.)

I want to look fear in the eye.

Punch it in the gut. 

Knock the wind out of it.

*I'll admit, I'm not always a fear-facer, but I try my best to be.


It's easier to run.  It's easier to hide from the fear; maybe even pretend it's not there.  But it really only leaves us more tired and emotionally spent in the end.  That's because it's job is to find you and keep you from doing the things you were born to do.

There's another word associated a lot with fear, and that's insecurity.   Those two go together like charcoal and lighter fluid, and can leave a wake just about as damaging as a forest fire.  When we're afraid and insecure, we act out of those emotions and can end up hurting the people who get close to us, albeit sometimes unintentionally.

When we're afraid and insecure, we aren't the versions of ourselves we're meant to be. We hide our true selves from the world--the world that desperately needs OUR unique voice and our story. When it comes down to it, we are afraid of being vulnerable.

No. Wait. 

Maybe it's NOT the vulnerability we're afraid of.  It's what comes AFTER the vulnerability that's the real issue. And it follows us into every area of life.

Work. Art. Family. Friendships. Romantic relationships.

It plagues us with questions like:

Will they like me?

Will I be accepted?

Do I belong here?

Will they like what I've made?

Am I doing a good job? Does my work matter?

Are they sizing me up?

Am I seen? Am I appreciated? Am I valued?

What happens if I lay my cards out on the table?

Will I be rejected? Will I get hurt again?


How will people respond to the most real version of us and what can we do about it? 

That's the burning question.  Because wearing the mask of fear and insecurity only lasts so long, and even then, how we function out of those places won't produce genuine results, or genuine art.

It may be good, and people might even like it...but is it the REAL you? Is it really YOUR art that they like? Are the accolades even worth it if it's not?

I would rather make genuine art, from a true place of security and freedom in vulnerability, and have NO one like it...than create something everyone loves that's only  half-me; created by a hidden & secret me.

So what do we do? How do we live, work, & create out of that place of truth?

The best thing I've found to combat fear and insecurity in my own life, is love.

Love has this wonderful ability to change the seemingly unchangeable.  When we remember we are loved just as we are, the walls can finally start to crack and crumble. The most real version of us has the freedom to emerge without shame or fear of rejection. We can punch fear in the face and tell it who we really are- sons and daughters of a Creator who cares deeply for what He's created and wants to help us make great art, do great work, & have great relationships.

I think the world around us wants genuine.

They want to see our genuine art.

They want to hear our genuine stories.

They want to engage with the genuine us.

They can spot the fake stuff from miles away.

So, fellow humans---let's be real!

Let's let go. Let's live like we are loved.

Let's face those fears and keep working hard, making great art, taking risks, and being vulnerable together.

And speaking of together.....

as we ended our discussion last night, my friend had a great idea:  he encouraged myself, and two of our other small business, girl-boss friends to keep each other accountable. So we now have a text thread going--appropriately named "boss-babes"--and every day we will share one thing we did to help build our business, and send each other affirmation.

It will serve to encourage and inspire us to keep creating-keep hustling- because it reminds us that we are not alone in the fear-fight. We have each other to walk with on the crazy, emotional, often insecure road that is the creative mind.

And I'm just super stoked for what's to come.