The Shadow of Uncertainty

What artist finds reassurance in his own ability to create?

I have yet to meet a creative who doesn’t face uncertainty in his own life and ability. I’m not talking about confidence, I would argue that everyone faces uncertainty. Those who rise everyday to create are profoundly confident individuals. In fact, I worry when I meet a creative who seems to exude self esteemed confidence in what he knows. This show of force is often a distraction to hide the fact that they are probably more insecure than you - and uncertain of what they know.

This may seem harsh, but I know the terrifying feeling that uncertainty brings. I feel constantly under investigation by my own self-conscious, eager to prove myself incapable.  Especially when your entire career hangs on the existence of you facing that uncertainty.


For me, specifically in this stage of my life I feel surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. Both in life, and in my creative work. I’m not afraid of what I don’t know, I’m afraid of what I know, and my ability to navigate the course ahead of me. Imagining the impossible, dreaming big dreams, and glimpsing visions of what could be is not hard for creatives, but facing my own inadequacies and the journey required to get their is what threatens my potential.


So here I am admitting to you that no matter what you think about me, I like you stand in the shadow of uncertainty. I am constantly afraid that I will miss what is put in front of me, or destroy the possibilities of what could have been. A tightrope between incredible faith in what I believe- too fear of what I see in myself.

The heart has called, and now I must answer. What will I do with this uncertainty? One of my heroes in life, Ed Catmull one of the founders and leaders of Pixar said in his book Imagination Inc:


The most creative people are willing to work in the shadow of uncertainty.


The mere existence of uncertainty in your life does not negate your value and ability to create, rather it becomes the force by which you bend your heart towards becoming human. Your ability to face your human weakness, all its messy existence, and choose to create out of that is what makes - and what connects us to each other.  

Uncertainty can push you towards creative outcomes not away. If you embrace it, not reject it. You do not walk alone on this path that winds through the valley of the shadow of uncertainty, but face the same things every other human being faces.


For me I cannot try to solve the mystery of uncertainty, for I will never understand, nor do I want to. In this time in my life when I feel lost, unsure of where to go next or what to do next, I remind myself that true confidence comes when we can stand in the face of our own uncertainty and not be moved to fear, but be still and allow it to become part of who we are. Sean recently told me, “Smooth seas don’t make a sailor.” What you don’t know doesn’t make you less of a creative, it actually makes you a creative.