I have been blessed to have people in my corner who support my work as a writer, performer and arts producer. Many of them are showcased in the photos above. Some of them are people I’ve worked with before and later become clients. One picture is of my little girl. She may joke about me being old and uncool, but she always lets it be known that she thinks I’m a pretty terrific writer. Another photo is of my spouse who is pretty supportive of my artistic endeavors. The group of women I’m with in the photo are both members of the cast of latest play as well as allies who collaborate on projects with me. All of these folks make me feel confident as an artist and support my work, whatever it may be. Whether they support me with kind words of support or actually participate in my productions, they always provide support that is uplifting. In their presence, I am not questioning about my talent, afraid to share with them or concerned that they will display jealousy toward me, attempting to thwart my artistic efforts. They are, whether they intend to be or not, my personal cheerleaders. I feel supported in their presence. I feel able to be my authentic artistic self.
Everyone in my life is not my personal cheerleader. And, believe it or not, that’s natural and that’s normal. However, in order for us to grow our artistic self in the healthiest environment possible, it is key that we bring the personal cheerleaders into our life front and center. One task that I typically give those aspiring artists that I work with as a coach is to identify the folks around them who support their artistic journey, and let them know personally how they are appreciated. The next task is to arrange your routine–whether daily or weekly–to include those personal cheerleaders in more, not less, of your life space.
Whether we realize it or not, the energy we receive from other either motivates us to move beyond our boundaries and restrictions or keeps us mired in feelings and beliefs that keep us unable to move forward. How do you know if your friend is good for your and your art? Here are three easy signs:
(1) The Connector- This friend hears that you want to get your writing published in a national publication. They tell you what a great idea that it is and encourages you to let them know if you need any help getting your writing out there because they may have some contacts for you. This is a Comnector. A connector helps you kick start your art and always has a kind word to share or presents an encouraging gesture to support your endeavors. The Connector is a keeper!
(2) The Encourager- This friend is a great ear to turn to when you are having challenges with your art. The listener doesn’t discourage you from getting up. Instead, the listener allows you to gripe, but then tells you to get it together and do your thing, because you are great! The Encourager is a proud supporter of you and provides the emotional solace that you often need most when trying to kickstart your art journey. The Encourager is often steadfast and your most loyal cheerleader. Treat them like royalty, for they are priceless!
(3) The Art Ally- This person is a fellow artist who doesn’t hold on to information, but, instead, shares opportunities freely with you and considers you a peer that they want to build with. The Art Ally is the singer who is often available to collaborate on a song with you because they enjoy working with you and love your work. The Art Ally is the venue owner who thinks of you when an opportunity comes up that they they think you the best fit for. I have had incredible experiences during my career because of the wonderful Art Allies I’ve met over the years. I hope that every single one of them know how much I appreciate them. When you have an alley in the arts– one who is not competitive with you, but, instead, looks at your success as their success, then you have really found a valuable find.
Now, while these are the three types of friends you should have on board for your artist journey, think closely about what type of friend are you…are you the type of friend an artist should have?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a writer and editor of several books, including the anthology Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul. She offers editing, proofreading and creative coaching services to authors who self-publish. Contact her at KhadijahOnline@gmail.com for a free consultation.