My name is Kimberlyn Dryden, and I am an artist.
I can’t tell you how difficult it was to get to where I could say those words without feeling like an impostor.
Ever since childhood I’ve known I wanted to be an artist, and I figured out early on that I loved rendering human faces. I’m not sure why this is the subject that has always appealed to me, but I speculate that it has something to do with my naturally empathetic disposition. I’ve always deeply felt people’s pain and joy, so I think human expression is what I became interested in simply because it makes me feel more than anything else ever has.
In college, I majored in Fine Arts with emphasis on painting. I thrived in the vast majority of my studio classes, and graduated with my BFA in studio art in 2014. I even got an A on my senior project, which is supposed to be very hard to do. But, after school, I stopped making things for a while. I no longer had a studio space to work in or many of the resources that were available to me in school, and my creative pursuits mostly fell off for about a year while I focused on being a newlywed and homemaker in a new town. I was loving my life for the most part, but when I would meet new people and they asked me that first question, “what do you do?,” I would immediately become filled with shame and crushing inadequacy. I would quickly mutter something about having my art degree and having plans to do this and that, and then nervously (perhaps less than subtly) change the subject. Any time I was feeling brave and used the word “artist” I felt like a liar.
This shame ultimately kept me from doing my work. My internal dialogue was saying, “I am not what I claim to be,” and so it felt nearly impossible to do the thing I was claiming. It was a vicious cycle; one that had me paralyzed and unsure of who I was for at least a year. It was agony.
It wasn’t until I changed this self-talk and decided to argue with that voice in my head that I was able to start working again (Side note: the work of Brene Brown was massively helpful to me in this). Don’t misunderstand; I still have these struggles. Any time life gets in the way of my creative endeavors or I say I’m going to do something and then don’t do it, I fall back into this pattern of self-flagellation, sometimes crumbling under the weight of perceived expectations. I’m still fairly new at this; still learning how to be a professional creative, balance my work with my home and social life, and be kind to myself. Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive husband and family who are always encouraging and gracious, and I depend on their love and faith in me often.
I’ve come to realize that this is the life of a creative—It’s all mountains, valleys, and hills of confidence, doubt, frustration, boredom, and inspiration. I’m still figuring it all out, learning the discipline to work through the valleys of doubt and boredom, and I couldn’t be more grateful even for my hard times and failings. How blessed am I to be able to pursue beauty for my job?
My name is Kimberlyn Dryden, and I am an artist. I invite you, Reader, to join me on this journey. I’m not going to promise new posts every day or every week, but I do promise that what I write will be transparent and vulnerable. The act of writing edifies me and often gives me clarity; I hope that you are able to somehow benefit from it, too.