My husband was recently asked by his boss to retake the Myers-Briggs test. His result was ISFP, also known as “The Artist.” When he saw the word artist and read the description, it shocked him. He figured he must have done something wrong, so he had me watch as he retook the test. I did, even offering a little input, and his result was the same. He was no less unsettled the second time.
See, my husband views himself as practical, logical, and analytical. He’s worked for the same large corporation for over 25 years. His main goal for his career was to have an 8:00-5:00 job with a wage that would allow him to provide well for his family, and he has achieved that. Never in a million years would he have described himself as an artist. That was my territory.
Yet my husband is a master woodworker. He builds incredibly beautiful furniture, shelves, and cabinets. He can also see a picture of a three-tier snowman cake in a recipe book and figure out how to make it. When the kids wanted some crazy costume made for Halloween, he was the one they went to. He is now crafting unique and beautiful ukuleles out of woods I didn’t know existed. The only difference between my husband and me is that, years ago, I decided to call myself an artist, and he never has.
So last week we took one of his ukuleles to a mountain town to see if one of the galleries there would sell it. My husband, who has overseen multi-million dollar budgets, managed teams of more than a dozen people, and spoken before high-level executives, suddenly looked nervous, and I get that. Putting our art out there is one of the biggest risks we can take. It’s a special kind of vulnerability. It takes guts to be an artist. And it takes guts to admit we are artists.
I remember the day someone asked me “So what do you do for a living?” and instead of answering, “I’m a stay-at-home mom,” like I usually did, I took a deep breath and said, “I’m a writer.” From that moment on, I owned it in a way I never had before. So if you haven’t proclaimed it in your own life yet, do it now. Say, “I’m an artist.” It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job or make a drastic change, it just means you are opening the door to exploring a fuller version of your self.
The second gallery owner we approached took my husband’s ukulele on consignment. We’ll see how long it takes to sell. He’s already at work on another one. My garage is covered in sawdust, but my husband is happy. And that is why we pursue our art.