13 August 2005

Crisis of Self-Worth

I find myself asking a lot of difficult questions right now. I know, although I'm somewhat uncomfortable saying so, that I am good at what I do. My discomfort with that assertion stems not from modesty (false or otherwise) but from a desire to avoid the difficult questions which naturally follow. What I cannot say is whether or not there is any greater good to be served by being good at something that the world neither needs nor wants. Some part of the validation of my chosen course comes from people who like my work enough to want it to occupy a place in their lives.

As the date of the Louisville bead show approaches I'm more intensely aware of this question of whether I'm doing the right things with my life. I find myself asking the question, how much money do I have to make at the show to justify my life choices and to establish my worth. I am appalled by the very nature of that question. I have never believed that money justifies anything. I certainly don't believe that money and happiness go hand in hand... So, why is it that if I'm making money I'm more assured in my right to do something at which I'm skilled and that I love doing?

I can't blame my husband for this bizarre fit of conscience. He has never been anything other than supportive. I can't even say that my choice of occupation is somehow a burden to my family. I work from home and am able to take care of my daughter. I'm certainly not the only woman working from home as a way of supplimenting my household income while taking care of my child. I read an article today about being a mom first. I have certainly made Mica's needs a priority when planning my days. We are working as a family to balance studio time with the needs of our family.

I don't know that there is a simple answer (or even a complex answer... I'm not picky) to this crisis of self-worth... For the moment I just wanted to put something in writing as a placekeeper so that I could continue to examine the issue.


Bobbi C. said...

Hi Andi,

I happened by your blog, and wanted to say that I know exactly how you feel. For some time now, I've been trying to decide if doing my art is "good enough"...right now I'm not getting sales, and I don't have children, so I really feel like I'm not "contributing" anything. My husband is also supportive, but the older I get (almost 50), the more I think "does anybody really need this stuff I've been making?" I guess especially now, lots of us are rethinking our priorities. I don't know what the answer is, either. Is it enough that what I'm doing is making *me* happy? I'm not sure.
Bobbi C.

Andi said...

I have to admit that the implied materialism involved in saying "My choice is only valid if people are willing to give me money for what I make." is very disturbing to me... Thanks, Bobbi C., for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. It helps to know that I'm not alone in this space.

Daria de la Luna said...

Andi, I think that the very way our culture is currently structured makes these kinds of questions inevitable for anyone living the creative life. I often have these same questions & I don't put out the glorious works of art that you do! I am reading Naomi Wolf's "The Treehouse" right now & am finding some creative comfort there. Her father's take is that it doesn't matter about the money or about being known, but only about whether the creative process brings you joy. Hard to think that way when we are so conditioned toward "productivity" in an entirely different sort of way. But, still good to read.