Just about every human being on Earth gets insecure. Whether you feel like your art isn’t good enough, or you’re not the smartest person in the room, feeling “less than” is universal.
There’s a power in owning your insecurities, though. Rookie decided to collect some quotes we turn to time and again when we’re feeling stuck with ourselves, because if artists and writers like Kanye West, Oscar Wilde, and Patti Smith can overcome criticism and doubts about their lives and work, so can you. Minna provided the gorgeous illustrations and collages for each one! Here’s my first pick:
“You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you—draw and paint your fear and anxiety.” —Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, recommended by me (Hazel).
“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work. Make the right choices, and protect your work. If you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.” —Patti Smith (based on advice given to her by William S. Burroughs), recommended by Dylan.
“Writing can be bad and still be part of something good. That ‘art’ is really ‘artifact,’ Exhibit A, Exhibit B, of something else: a person’s whole experience and life. And that always there’s the chance that this will fail. That things will not work out.” —Chris Kraus, recommended by Hazel.
“I got really tired of being in readings and having people much older than myself saying, ‘Oh, you’re so wise, you’re so full of wisdom.’ But I don’t know anything! What you’re reading is an imitation of what wisdom sounds like…You know it yourself. You’re so profoundly inconsistent from one moment to another. The shock of your life, for instance, is to be shown a letter you wrote from five years ago. You usually can’t even recognize the voice.” —Zadie Smith, recommended by Anna F.
“I don’t believe at all in the Deep Dark Secret theory of literature: this idea that there is a right or a wrong about a given story or a given approach. My own pathetic output is proof that, at least in my case, Mastery is totally elusive. For me, every story is a whole new set of problems, expressed in a whole new language, plus my glasses are out of prescription, and it’s raining.” —George Saunders, recommended by Anna F.
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” —Oscar Wilde, recommended by Amy Rose.
“If everybody thinks it’s right, you’re doing something wrong.” —Kanye West, recommended by Brodie.
“I intend to do everything…to have one way of evaluating experience—does it cause me pleasure or pain, and I shall be very cautious about rejecting the painful—I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it, too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly…everything matters! The only thing I resign is the power to resign, to retreat: the acceptance of sameness and the intellect. I am alive…I am beautiful…what else is there?” —Susan Sontag, recommended by Hazel.
“Maybe your weird is my normal. Who’s to say?” —Nicki Minaj, recommended by Anna F.
“You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard. Not everything remembered is useful but it all comes from the world to be stored in you.” —Claudia Rankine, recommended by Hazel.
“It’s your story. The lessons you learned from that experience are yours, and you should feel free to write about them.” —Samantha Irby, recommended by Anna F.
“Don’t listen to anyone who tells you do something a certain way. Do things your own way even if people tell you it’s wrong.” —Grouper, recommended by Meagan.
“I’m not so weird to me.” —Haruki Murakami, recommended by Amy Rose. ♦