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Melissa Ng


August 4, 2013

(Un)limited Growth

August 4, 2013 | By | 9 Comments

“The failure of an artist is not the inability to draw or create, but the resistance to continually learn and do. Every artist, in their own mind, is a work in progress.” — Eugenia Leung

(Substitute “artist” with whatever word you prefer in the quote above)

Have you ever said some variation of the following?

I don’t have the guts. I can’t put myself out there. I wish I was more like X. I’m too old/young to start X. I’m just not naturally talented like so-and-so. Maybe they won’t like me or what I have to offer.

I could never do that.

I admit I’m guilty of comforting myself with many of these lies. In fact, these thoughts run through my head almost everyday, but I still go on. Not because I’m somehow stronger, but because it’s all that I really can and must do, don’t you think?

A year ago, I thought I could never pursue my love for illustration and curiosity for writing.

Heck, I hadn’t drawn for over 6-7 years and my writing was so terrible, I even blushed about it in private!

I never had any formal art training beyond elementary school, I was bored out of my mind by the art history prerequisite back in my college days, I don’t have an MBA, I found writing to be very challenging, I had have a questionable grasp on grammar, and I suffered from a pathetically limited vocabulary.

So, according to everyone who was convinced they knew me better than myself, I was totally “unqualified” to pursue illustration and writing. Do I even need to talk about the looks of (loving) concern? It was like they mentally stamped the words “starving artist” on my forehead and I couldn’t erase it from their mind.

But according to me, I wasn’t going to let their uncertainties or their standards lead my life.

So, what happened? I grabbed a pen and started writing and drawing a lot of shit every day.

Sadly, not the epic kind, but the stinky kind.

I’m not going to lie and pretend that I miraculously got better with each passing day. In reality, I had nuggets of good sandwiched in between massive collections of bad. In fact, drawing and (especially) writing still do not come easily to me.

Even so, I’ve learned to get comfortable with knowing that nothing worthwhile and meaningful ever comes easily. If it did, everyone would be living their purpose right now. But you and I both know that plenty of folks would much rather spend their days building barriers against risks rather than opening up to uncertain possibilities.

I’m fine with knowing that I’ll always have a long journey ahead of me. No doubt, you have a long way to go as well.

But it’s better than going no where at all.

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something before giving yourself a chance? What area in your life are you trying to improve and grow right now?

And do you want to see some of my old shit? ;D Let me know!



Follow my frequent work-in-progress posts here 🙂


  1. Sarah

    Going through something similar so I really appreciate your piece. I am currently designing 3 products having never designed before. It’s exciting, scary and can make you feel a little sick sometimes but I’ve set my goals and am determined to achieve them.
    Good luck to all of us who are brave enough to change.

    • Totally right there with you. It’s the ol’ “feel the fear and do it anyway.” 😀 I wish you the best, Sarah!

  2. Melissa, I had no idea you felt that way about your writing! From what I’ve seen, you are amazingly articulate and insightful. Your “stick-to-it-ness” is inspiring to me, because I’ve been going through a discouraging period of writer’s block. The more time that passes, the more guilty I feel that I haven’t written. It’s like a double punishment, because on top of the guilt, new events and thoughts keep piling on with no outlet.

    I’ve definitely sabotaged myself from even starting many projects, or allowed self-doubt to stop me soon after starting. But I realize now, if I put even a fraction of the effort and consistency into my own writing as I did for my employer, who knows where I could be right now?

    I’d love to see some of your old work. Maybe I’ll look back fondly on my old blog posts one day and think, “I can’t believe I wrote that.” =P

    • Thanks, I appreciate your kind words, but you’d probably LOL if you saw my writing last year 😉 Did you know that I actually swore off writing after my college days (I actually hated writing)?

      I can relate to how you feel. I was feeling majorly stuck between March and June 2013…until one day I just said “fuck it” and started writing my next post, “Uncertainty Bubbles.” I was so overwhelmed by everything that I “needed to do” that I didn’t do anything. Talk about perfection paralysis!

      A lot of the anxiety built around the fact that I just was too afraid to get my next post out (and that I hated my site design). But in the end, it’s simply a matter of just picking a place to finally get moving again. We’re in this together 🙂

      Happy to show my initial doodles/writing when I picked up the pen again last year. They’re a horrible, happy mess 😀

  3. Hello Melissa –

    I was just Googling “believing in yourself” and somehow I found your site. I like the way you write – very honestly and directly, and you’re very open about your own struggles. I’m 55 and very creative, but am my own worst enemy. I never finish my projects, probably cause I’m afraid of failure, or just lose faith. Right now I’m struggling to get back into writing \ drawing my comic strip, with the goal of getting published. I love doing it (when it works) and I know it’s good (some of them, anyway). But I need help in getting over the hump of self-doubt. I’m going to follow your site – your philosophy seems to be just what I need.

    btw – I DO play a little piano, but just banging away at chords – just for fun. Are you a concert pianist? Also, I see you live in Jackson Heights, Queens. I live in Whitestone, just a few miles away.

    Mike D

    • Hi Mike! I know this is a super delayed response, but I’m really glad you stopped by. I’m my own worst enemy all the time as well. To be completely honest, despite each post, drawing, and 3D model I put out, I somehow convince myself that I’m the worst possible scum that could ever exist! I’m putting in a lot of work on this irrationally insecure noggin of mine all the time, so you’re not alone 🙂 I hope we can keep battling through our self-doubts together!

      And I’m not a concert pianist but I do love, love, love piano. I felt like this was reason enough to start PianoVerse, but I’m sure there’s always someone out there who disagrees with me 😉 It’s awesome you’re in Whitestone! Feel free to drop by if you’re ever in the area!

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