When I create something, I often find two different sides to myself, each one telling me if I should or should not share my work and why I should do so. These two different sides clamber for my attention whenever I write, paint, draw, dance, work on a theatre production, etc. Depending on the situation, I can expect one side to be louder than the other, but they will both be there.

If I oversimplify my feelings, it’s my humility warring against my vanity. But usually it is more complex than that. Nothing is ever quite that easy.

My first side is sometimes humble, sometimes self-deprecating. It makes excuses. When I create something, Side One tells me I did it for myself. It says, “You drew this picture because the subject matter interested you, and you enjoy drawing. You don’t have to show it to anyone else—that would just be vain.” Or if I do end up sharing my work—it’s inevitable when designing the hair and makeup looks for a theatre production—it gently reminds me, “It doesn’t matter if anyone compliments your work or even recognizes that you put so much effort into this show. That’s not why you worked so hard—you did it because you love it, and that’s enough.” Sometimes, Side One is legitimately shy and nervous about what people might say about my latest short story, and so it doesn’t want anyone to comment on it. Ultimately, Side One whispers, It’s alright if no one looks at you.

My second side, however, creates for other people, to capture their interest, gain their attention. Side Two creates something, eagerly pushes it out into the world, and craves feedback. Positive or negative, it really doesn’t matter, because one way or another someone will have seen what I worked so hard on, what was inside me for so long and is now shared with the world. The second side declares, “I’m proud of my work, of what I have accomplished, and it means a lot to me. So please give it your consideration.” Ultimately, Side Two shouts, Please, pay attention to me—validate me!

If I’m being objective, there are both positive and negative aspects within each of my sides. I know that humility is a good character trait to have, but putting myself down, hiding my creativity, or not standing up for myself and my work is wrong. I also know that I am allowed to be proud of my accomplishments, but relying on validation from other people is not healthy. What it comes down to is 1) being able to accurately determine why I want to share something I’ve created, and 2) finding the right balance between my humility and my vanity.

Piece of cake, right?

This is a constant process and struggle for me. Why am I creating? Why am I sharing? Am I being too humble or too vain? How can I tell, and where on the spectrum should I land?

If you have faced a similar struggle, let me know! Do you have any helpful tips or tricks for dealing with your opposing sides? I’d love to hear from you, and maybe we can work this out together. 🙂