I’m afraid of not being good enough.

I remember putting my charcoal drawing up against the wall with everyone else’s. In art classes, you have to get used to having your work critiqued. I was proud of my drawing but, compared to others on the wall, I knew it was not the best.

I was in college studying graphic design, and drawing was one of the classes that I struggled with. To be honest, I didn’t believe in myself. Being surrounded by such seemingly effortless talent was downright intimidating, and it was very easy to convince myself that I was not as good as they were. It also didn’t help that I was my own toughest critic.

Well, fast forward to 2013. For almost three years, I’ve owned a small paper goods business that I’m proud of, and I now call myself a designer. I may not be the best of the best out there (yet), but I truly believe I was put on this earth to create, to bring ideas to life and to design. I love what I do and it lights my heart on fire. That is more than enough for me.

Do I still get intimidated by other talented designers? Oh, yes. Do I find myself comparing and wishing I had some of their design skills? You bet. In the past, I’ve let my fear of not being good enough paralyze me and stop me from making progress.

However, I am slowly learning that I am my own person. I have my own design aesthetic, personality and voice as well as strengths and weaknesses. What I can do is strive to be the best I can be and improve my skill set. I would definitely not be where I am if not for these doubts and fears that humble me and push me to ask more of myself.

Nicknamed by her best friends as Leen Machine, Paulene is a designer and runner on a mission to do all things with love. Her paper goods business, Leen Machine Paper Studio, provides her with a creative outlet to design simple, modern pieces with pops of color.

Follow Paulene on Twitter, Pinterest and her website.

Fear Confessions is a series of essays by creatives who share personal stories about facing their fears. It’s a celebration of vulnerability.

  1. I love how it turned out. Thank you for having me, Krystle!

    • You’re very welcome, Paulene. I can relate to your story. I remember sitting through many critiques in art school and looking around at all the talented work. The class that got me in a tizzy was photography. Unlike me, it comes naturally to some people and I had to work really hard to achieve “okay” shots. That’s why I’m challenging myself to use my camera everyday this year. It takes time, but hard work will pay off in the end, just like it is with your business.

    • I hear you and all those critiques. Thankfully, I did well in photography. Drawing is what I need to work on and like you, I’ve been sketching almost everyday. It’s definitely more about the fears and doubts coming out that hinders me at times but I need to get over it. I can’t improve unless I keep going. Good luck on your personal photography challenge!

  2. I remember that dreaded art class. I called it my “pick last class” because that’s where I always ended up! What an awful experience that was. But, we managed to get through it and are now stronger for it, right?!

    • I used to turn red and get flustered when I was explaining my designs. We weren’t allowed to use the word “like” either. Oh design school …

  3. This is SO how I’ve been feeling lately. Thank you for sharing!