'The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.'
When I was sixteen, I wrote this quote from Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson into my little book of inspiration. Wracked with shyness, I was looking for a solution, and this seemed like a good idea. It's something that I've kept in mind ever since.
When I get out of my own way, and make sure it's all about the work and not me, I find I can surprise myself with what I can accomplish. You step across comfort-zone barriers, and afterwards you look back and think, that wasn't so bad.
My artwork has now been exhibited and collected all over the world, I've had the opportunity to meet many amazing people, and I've been on some fantastic adventures. When I look back now, I can see that those years of shyness have given me unique insight and experience that I can now put into my work.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to give a little talk at a marketing event for creative people. I was so nervous as I spoke, that I worried my notes were flapping around like a trapped seagull. But plenty of people came up to tell me how much they had enjoyed listening to what I had written.
Afterwards, it was fun to reflect on how far I have come.
But I certainly don't feel 'cooked' yet. I'm reminded of the actor Matthew McConaughey's Oscar speech, in which he told a story about how his hero is always himself in ten years' time. I think there's a lot of wisdom in this idea.
Here's to the next ten years.