Although my NoExNo goal is writing-related every year, my day job is very different from the written word. I actually work as an art nude model. This means that I pose for sculptures, paintings, and photographs for everything from gallery exhibits to coffee table books. I’ve even posed for a life-sized bronze fountain, as well as underwater.
There are a few things that I’ve learned from making a living naked that seem to apply to just about everything else I want to accomplish. I’m hoping they’ll help me get through my NoExNo writing goal this year as well.
“Fun is doing difficult things well.”
This is probably one of my favorite quotes of all time. It’s from a local artist and teacher whose classes I pose for. She says it every time someone is struggling with a drawing and wants to quit. Fun is doing difficult things well, she’ll say, and art is hard. But it’s worth it.
I feel like it’s the same thing with NoExNo: just like making art, setting and following through on a goal is hard. But it’s also fun.
Just show up.
Like making art, modeling is hard (and fun). Although it may sound glamorous to lounge around naked all day, it actually takes a lot of skill and a pretty high pain tolerance. When I’m posing for a painting or sculpture, I have to stay in the same pose for up to three hours at a time. When I’m posing for photographers on location, I’m often scratched and bruised from climbing rocks and trees. And it’s always cold: I’ve had hypothermia twice from modeling outdoors in the winter.
But do you know where most new models fail? It’s not posing for long periods of time, or even withstanding the elements. It’s just showing up.
After having worked with several new models, I’ve noticed that more of them flake on their first gig than actually pose. I can understand why; modeling can be intimidating. I had terrible stage fright the first time I stepped onto a modeling stand in front of twenty artists and took off my robe. But the experience was absolutely worth it. I would have never known how much I enjoyed modeling, despite the pain and hard work, if I had never shown up and tried it.
Goals are the same way. I’ve never failed a goal because I wasn’t skilled enough or tough enough. I fail because I don’t show up and try to do it. If you show up for your goal, you’re going to be ahead of the pack.
I love my job. But let’s admit it: it’s a little weird. People look at me strangely when they ask what I do for a living. Some of them are even offended by my art.
I used to apologize to these people, but I quickly noticed that if I apologized to someone who was upset by my art, they would take it as an admission of guilt. It was only further proof to them that what I was doing was wrong.
I eventually learned that some people would love my art, while others would be scandalized by it. And no matter what I said on the subject, I wouldn’t change their minds on whether it was right or wrong. So instead, I learned to not apologize, and to love my work for all its weird, cool glory.
In the same way, don’t apologize for your dreams and goals—not even to yourself. Some people are going to understand what you want to accomplish, but not all of them. And that’s okay; you don’t have to justify yourself. Just get out there, show up, and have some fun!