I had an art teacher once who said, “No one cares whether you paint or not.”
Dead silence fell over the room as everyone stopped working. A few people flushed angrily. Some people stared at the floor. One student started to argue with the teacher and then stormed out of the studio.
I kept working and after a few seconds the others returned to their canvases too. The atmosphere remained tense and there were a few people who never came back to class after that evening.
But here’s the thing…if you add one tiny word to that teacher’s statement it become profoundly true. “No one ELSE cares whether you paint or not.” No one besides you.
Understanding this transformed my artistic practice because it made me realize that I had to care as hard as I could. If I did that, and kept on painting, eventually I’d get pretty good at it and my work could go out into the world for other people to care about.
It’s very easy for the voices of self doubt to say, “if no one cares, why bother?” The answer is simple to know and hard to believe.
Because it matters. It matters to you. And if it matters to you enough then other people will ultimately care about it too. It matters because bringing beauty and understanding into the world makes it a better place.