Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project among other books and prolific blogger, has as the first of her Twelve Personal Commandments “Be Gretchen.” She mentioned it recently in a tweet, and I found myself thinking about it over the past few days. I was working on an art journal page–I had started a new background, and then I began adding some stamping to the background, and I was wondering what this page was going to be about. I was feeling discouraged about my art–this page that didn’t seem to be going anywhere, some cards that I’d made that didn’t measure up to my standards, my lack of inspiration on a few other canvases. The cards were particularly on my mind, as I’d struggled over a few Valentines, trying to get some heat embossing just right, and I felt as if I would never be able to make a “good enough” card. I was measuring my work against that of some far more experienced card makers, trying to be as good as they are, as careful and neat and precise and perfect.
And then I heard in my head the words I’d been reminded of earlier: “Be Gretchen.” Of course, my task is to be Laura, though–can you see I have issues?–I like the rhythm of Be Gretchen better. At any rate, that’s what the page turned out to be about, and I ended up fairly happy with it. The journaling doesn’t exactly pop off the page, but maybe that’s fine, since the value was probably more in the writing of it than in anyone’s reading of it later.
It’s OK to be Laura. It’s OK to do the kind of art I love, to make imperfect cards, to play at art forms I’m not good at, to express myself in the ways I feel like expressing myself, whether they’re trendy, popular, marketable, or not. I have things to offer that others do not, and if I try to be someone else, I rob the world of what I have to offer. That sounds more than a little grandiose, but why else was I created if not to bring glory to my Creator in a unique way?