Teal Frustration by Victoria R Wolf 5-28-24 original

Teal Frustration and Looking for Hope

Frustration is one of the most bewildering emotions for me. Defined as “being upset or annoyed, most likely by an inability to change things,” frustration really sends me into a tailspin, straight toward the awaiting rabbit hole.

Thankfully, I haven’t spent much time inside rabbit holes lately. I do, however, on more occasions than I would prefer, stand outside the rabbit hole for a short period of time and then run away as quickly as I can.

Okay, yes, I agree; the rabbit hole is still in my life, and even if I try to persuade myself, staring into it is different than stepping inside. 

Now, back to the reason I found myself adjacent to a rabbit hole and, more importantly, what it has to do with my latest paintings.

A common refrain for me is self-doubt. I wish I could say I no longer allow it to navigate me to places I don’t want to be, but I cannot. I believe we all have self-doubt at times in our lives, and some of us have it more frequently than others. I am in the latter cohort.

My self-doubt surfaces daily, ranging from the garden-variety “Oh, should I really do that?” to the darker, “Who are you to even consider doing that?” The internal conversation that follows could be short-lived or last for hours. 

I have tried Rich’s somewhat joking suggestion to “just stop it” to no avail. I can’t seem to shut it off easily much of the time. Distraction helps but is not a cure-all. So, I endure and try to make sense of it all. Painting and writing are my main outlets for expressing and then understanding my self-doubt.

I participated in my first art show this past weekend. I painted, planned, and prepped for months and was so excited about it. The show went well, and I learned a lot, met some amazing people, and can’t wait for the next one. But self-doubt really crept up on me, and today, the day after the show, I found myself standing next to a dark hole. If only the actual rabbit would show up. Now, that would completely distract me!

I decided to paint to work out my emotions. Instead of one canvas, I decided to paint two canvases simultaneously. If one canvas would be a good release, then, of course, two would be better. I painted both while listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars, an “I am frustrated and need to get it out” standby for me. The music always does help.

Looking at my paints, I felt strongly drawn to brown and started with a lovely reddish-brown layer. I couldn’t possibly do a whole painting without a bright color, so I added teal, one of my favorite colors. Teal Frustration feels chaotic and full of energy, which I was when I painted it. I see my frustration in it, and there is a marked absence of order, which I usually add to my chaos. Translation: I did not work it all out on the canvas. There’s still some processing left to do.

Looking for Hope by Victoria R Wolf 5-28-24 original

For Looking for Hope, as the name implies, I turned to another one of my favorite colors, orange, to help lure me from the darkness of self-doubt over to the bright lights of hope. There is much more frustration in the layers in this painting, and my top layer marks suggest that I was starting to come out of the funk.

Now that the clouds of frustration are clearing, I can examine this self-doubt thing closer. Where does it come from? 

My best guess is that I fear being overconfident and assuming I am something that others think I am not. If I actually felt confident, how would I know if I was wrong? Okay, I know this sounds a bit crazy, but stay with me. We’ll figure this out together.

I love how when I ask myself questions and more questions, I get to the heart of the matter. I am not afflicted by self-doubt as much as I am by the fear of being wrong. And that would lead to the fear of being called out for being wrong, and then that would lead to, well, being wrong. 

Being wrong or perceived as wrong is not an option for me. It feels like the worst thing that can happen to me. But, of course, I am wrong a lot, and I know that so why would I fear being wrong so much? Let’s take a quiz!

  1. If I am wrong, I am not capable. Capable people are not wrong. (I know this is BS, but my thoughts are not always logical)
  2. If I am wrong, then someone will think less of me, and ultimately I will not be loved.
  3. If I am wrong, I don’t deserve the things in life I want. I deserve punishment instead.
  4. If I am wrong, I am unworthy.
  5. All of the above.

If you guessed (5) all of the above, you are a winner, winner, chicken dinner! It all goes back to my fear of not being loved and accepted by others. These “others” I refer to are people I don’t even know, not my family. I’m wrong with them all the time, and I don’t fear they will run for the door and never come back. So why am I giving strangers such sway over my emotions? I honestly don’t know, but I can tell you I will figure it out.

I’ll report back when I have more clarity. 

Thank you for being here and part of my self-discovery journey!


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