Most people approach new situations with joy, excitement, and anticipation. Benchmark Recovery Center took the female residents on an outing this week that was no different. Looking around the art studio, I observed carefree conversations, laughter, and merriment.
The excitement for me, however, was short-lived. Waiting beyond the conviviality was a blank canvas, fresh paint, clean brushes, and the picture we were to paint, ultimately, a new experience. Doubt, inability, and failure immediately clouded the scene. I knew that the picture in my mind’s eye would never be actualized. My ego exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’
While my insecurity hid behind bravado, my mind was barraged with irrational thoughts: These women are artists. They paint all the time. Their paintings will probably rival those of Da Vinci or Picasso. They will laugh at my painting. They will taunt me. And on and on the craziness went until my gaze caught Courtney’s. With a glance, she was able to bring me back to the land of “normalcy” or at least to the present moment.
I shared some of those crazy thoughts, and after the laughter subsided, she quickly smashed my delusions one by one. She reminded me that it was okay to be nervous, that I’m not the only one who has never painted, that everyone was embracing a new experience, and that I’m not weird, inadequate, or dumb.
As with any productive tenth step, I was directed to take action. So I picked up my paintbrush, loaded it with red paint and tackled the vast area of whiteness. Two hours, numerous strokes, and many mistakes later, my masterpiece was complete. While it is highly doubtful my painting will adorn the walls of an art gallery any time soon, the point is that I was willing to grow.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh
Vickie Bing is the Director of Alumni Services for Benchmark Recovery Center. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Arlington. Vickie is a former high school teacher. She is also an Air Force Veteran. You can read other posts at benchmarkcenter.com/blog.