June 22, 2007


I have recently been invited to join the Apprentice list on Yahoo, even though I am not apprenticed to anyone. I had known about the list for some time, but, since it says apprentices only, I had never applied. I had thought this was a pretty clear cut issue, but I was wrong. Like many things in life, getting on this list without a Laurel is apparently a matter of who one knows, and/or how hard one is willing to promote oneself.

One of the things that came up on the list, and which I have heard folks discuss elsewhere, is *modesty.* One good gentle said that "modesty, however merited, is not a survival trait." I guess my not getting on the list before now is sort of a case in point, I hadn't put myself on their radar by applying, and so didn't get on before now. (I was invited to join by someone who vouched for me and my work, which was a lovely surprise!)

Modesty is a double-edged sword; if one doesn't put themselves forward, no one ever notices them, but putting oneself forward can be seen as, well, being too *forward.* No one wants to be the doormouse, but no one wants to be thought arrogant either.

Many folks don't offer to teach, or enter A&S competitions 'because they/their work isn't good enough.' Hey - your class might not get a standing ovation, but I have never been to a class and thought that the teacher should just shut up and go home; I have ALWAYS gotten something out of the classes I have attended, even if the teacher had never taught before. Enthusiasm for a subject goes a VERY long way, and many experienced teachers have, unfortunately, lost it through repitition...

Entering A&S competitions is tough. I avoid competition wherever possible, but how else can I get my work *seen*? I have entered exhibitions, where they have had them, but even then, I, like many others, fear being judged (even unofficially) and found wanting. Someone may think this is my being modest, but is it modest to honestly not find one's work worthy of presentation?

We are all our own worst critics, I know. Folks tell me that my work is decent, but... Yes, I want it seen, so I can get some feedback on it, but it still scares me. (I have gotten over my stagefright teaching or presenting something verbally, since I know I can guage the audience as perform, and adjust accordingly; not so much for a static piece on a display table, documentation neatly typed in a folder.)

Frank Llyod Wright is quoted as having said that he prefered "honest arrogance to hypocritical humility," and many folks who are honest about their level of work get chided for false modesty, but others who actively show their work/knowledge get called arrogant and worse.

The good gentles on the list didn't seem to have any pearls of wisdom to share on navigating this other than to just walk the sword - be honest about one's ability and experience, and take the lumps where they fall.

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