January 16, 2004

One of the best bits of advice I received was not advice at all; it was a statement made by my best friend, Emily.

We were walking through Granville Island, which was home to her art school as well as to many small art studios. Watching a glass blower, I asked her if she could do that.

“I don’t know,” she said, “but probably.”

A bit shocked by her confident words that she spoke with ease, I asked her how she could say ‘probably.’

She replied, “I never say I can’t before I try.”

Her words struck me so hard that day, taking away any excuse I ever had when I said I couldn’t do something before trying it. Her words have stayed with me a year later, at first challenging me and then comforting me.

I used her words when, last month, the editor for Small Spiral Notebook contacted me to help with the cover of their first print edition. My first reaction was to say no. I had never done a magazine cover before and I had never created an image specifically for someone. The fear of failing, of not being able to produce something for her, of letting her down, almost made me write her back saying I was too busy.

Then I thought of Emily’s words. I also thought about all my other jobs that I had. Because each one I applied for, I never had the qualifications for. I just thought I could learn as I went because I was smart enough and had the drive. And, sure enough, I’d get these jobs and learned as I went, no one ever suspecting I couldn’t do the tasks before.

I said YES! to creating the magazine cover and one night, I sat down and the first image:

The Editor loved it and that image would go on to be used as the cover for Small Spiral Notebook’s first print edition. I had done it and not because I was a fabulous artist but because I had tried.

On the same day my cover was accepted, I was offered two other illustration and painting jobs and one for a book and one for another magazine. Because I opened up myself, other opportunities did too.

So now I understand how Emily said what she said with ease because I, too, never say I can’t before I try.

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