The first time I sat down to draw an illustration to sort through what I was feeling, I drew a small scribble and labeled it “fear.” I gave it a speech bubble that said: “I know I feel real, but I promise you I am not.”
This came up for me because at that time I was in the middle of everything. I was in the middle of some heart-wrenching personal situations. I was also in the middle of getting clean. I was ridding myself of so many things all at once and all I felt was fear.
In letting my fear speak to me as if it was its own personality, it helped me separate myself from my fear. It was like a magic balm I had applied to my life. Being able to illustrate it and almost bring this anxiety up, out and onto paper, basically pulled it up and out of my chest and into the world.
This was the beginning of an everyday practice for me. I have always journaled, but being able to create a visual journal where it was not about technique or the outcome, it was about the process, helped heal and strengthen many areas of my life. It helped me nurture myself more once I could see all of it on paper. This is a practice I have done almost daily for two years now. Sometimes it’s just scribbles on paper and sometimes it’s me writing love letters to myself.
This practice that I created for myself ultimately became the most healing practice I have ever started. I started sharing my work online and so many people sent me messages saying “I wish I could do that” or “I didn’t know anyone else felt that way.”
These messages inspired me to create workshops where I show others this practice that I created for myself of “painting your fear.” My intention in these workshops is to create a space where people can comfortably live in the process of whatever they are going through at that moment. It also allows my students to recognize that they can create habits that will help them not only sort out what is going on in their own life, but also to show them how creative they can be if they give themselves a chance.
I’ve experienced so many students tell me “I had no idea I was that creative” and that has shown me that so many people are longing to be more creative in their lives, but get stuck with some form or self-judgement along the way.
Imposture syndrome was a big topic in one of my workshops because a lot of people are silently going through this experience and think they are alone in it. Lately, I have been bringing this topic up at the beginning of every workshop because I want it to be looked at before they step into creativity. I ask everyone to journal their fears around being creative and ask them to nurture that part of themselves, not become frustrated or judgmental towards it, but to look at it as if it’s just the scared inner-child of theirs.
These workshops are also an extension of me. They are me creating space and community for others to not feel alone in their fears. They let us know that we all go through fear and the more we talk about it, nurture it and bring a little levity to it, the more courage we can create in figuring it all out, not alone, but together.
About the Author
Stephanie Chinn is a Toronto-based artist and storyteller whose illustrative work is rooted in honesty, love, humor and empowering others. She explores what it means to be human by breaking down awkward, yet funny human experiences. You can experience one of Stephanie’s “Paint For Self-Discovery” workshops here.