I came across this quote I really liked by Carrie Mae Weems, one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows. She’s responding to a question on giving herself permission to be an ‘artist’:
I think the older I get, the more confused I get by all of these terms. I don’t know really how to define myself so much. What I do know is that I’m deeply engaged in a kind of endless search for the truth. … It’s painful, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And I think that it’s maybe in the depths of that space that one might claim to be an artist … I give my permission to work because I know that the work matters, and whether I call it art or not really doesn’t matter so much to me.
I think one of the hardest things about accomplishing anything is that first initial step of giving yourself permission. Permission to try and to invest and care about what you are doing, no matter what it is. Permission to succeed and maybe even permission to fail. You can listen to the whole interview on NPR’s website and see Carrie Mae Weems’ work on her website.