Imagine this, what if someone suggested taking a trip to a new exotic place.  This place is somewhere you’ve never been, but you’ve always wanted to go.  It looks so enticing, you’d love to see it yourself.  What would you say?

Would you say, “Well, I’ve never been there and I don’t have the pictures and stories and souvenirs that others do, so they are better at travelling than I am and I’d better not go.”

Of course not!  You’d never expect to have these experiences and souvenirs before you actually went.  You know you’re just starting the trip and that you’ll have these things to show and share when you get back.  And along the way, you’ll bring your own views and experiences that combine with what you see and do, and it makes this trip experience uniquely ours.

It’s the same with creating art, or trying anything new for the first time.  We know intellectually that we can’t pick up a pen or a paintbrush and achieve something outstanding on our first attempt.  And yet, that’s often what we expect of ourselves.  And it’s usually what holds us back.

While Zentangle is all about the process, not the outcome, and the purpose of Zentangle is to explore mindfulness, relaxation, and our own creativity, our inner critic sneaks in when we start to look at what other people are doing.  You see this especially in social media forums, and places where people post their work.

Everyone loves to show themselves in their best light.  And so when we look at what other people achieve, we are looking at their successes, not their failures.  We forget about all the practice, learning and experience someone else might have already had, and compare our first attempts with their results.  “I’ll never be as good as that,” we say, and so we don’t even try.  Some people have coined this “Comparanoia”.

The interesting thing is that when you put yourself out there and share in a safe place (like most of the Zentangle based Facebook groups), it’s amazing how much support there is.  People often see things we can’t in our own work, and that helps us to take a second look ourselves.  The class mosaic is one of my favourite moments in a Zentangle class for just that reason.

But you know what?  It’s perfectly okay not to share your work, too.  If we consider the process of creating to be the whole point, then what does it matter if nobody else even sees it?

So go ahead and tangle that tile, draw, paint, write, dance, sing….  Do what makes your heart glad for the simple reason of doing it.  As you travel on this creative journey, you’ll pick up souvenirs and experiences, and bring your own distinctive perspective to the trip.  And share or not.  It’s okay either way!