Things I’m afraid to tell you

things I'm afraid to tell you

I’ll start this post by quoting Ez: “I am encouraged and honored to be a part of this beautiful community of bloggers who are willing to make themselves vulnerable in an effort to make the bigger blogging community a better place. Here goes…”:

Here’s my candid segment where I join the ranks of my favorite bloggers to open up and share my story, not just the perfect and pristine aspects of of life we often see portrayed on our favorite blogs. Maquette is actually not a blog where I share too much information. I’ve always used it as sort of a visual archive. I share photos I’m inspired by, daily drawings, published work and some tiny tidbits of life. Still, I’ve been blogging for 4 years and I feel the urge to share more.

My favorite blogs are written by creative and passionate people. They give us a peek into who they are and how they tick. I think it will be cathartic for me to share my thoughts and feelings on being a working illustrator and mom and wife living in New York City. It’s also a very daunting thing to open my door and share the truth and not just the pretty stuff. I do have a wonderful life but I have trials and tribulations just like you and just like those gleamingly beautiful bloggers we all admire (Erin, Anne and Ez). While I love my career and have been enjoying some of the most fulfilling and exciting projects of my life, I’m also coping with losing my dad, raising a 2 year old, juggling lots of projects and my daily struggles with self doubt.

Things I’m Afraid to tell you:

  1. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I try to be happy but it’s definitely a struggle for me. I always have goals. Goals are great but not when they preclude you from enjoying the now. I rarely sit down, take a deep breath and say to myself “everything’s good, everything’s ok”. I’m never good enough for myself and I’ll never be successful until the next thing, even if I get the next thing….there’s always another thing.
  2. I’m fueled by anxiety. I feel the fragility of life and the limit of time. I have the fear that the work I’m doing now, the projects I’m excited about will dry up and nobody will want to hire me to do illustration and nobody will want to see my work. I’m scared of getting older. Will I be able to keep up?
  3. I’m terrified of being left alone. It’s my biggest fear in fact. Will I lose more people I love? Losing my dad was the worst thing that ever happened to my family.
  4. I’m the worst home-maker. My husband does way more domestic tasks than I do. I load the dishwasher and make Henry’s lunch but he makes breakfast everyday, does the laundry, taxes and bills. I feel guilty about it but I’m selfish.
  5. I know Henry is so happy and healthy and I know Dave loves me but I don’t know if I show them just how much I adore them.
  6. I’m messy. I don’t put cloths away neatly and there are piles of artwork on my printer and ink splotches on my desk.
  7. I never exercise. I used to jog all the time but never picked it up after Henry was born. I was freelancing in illustration and teaching art and I just never made time for it. Now I’m solely a freelance illustrator and I still never make time for it. I can’t say that I don’t “have” time I just don’t make it. I feel terrible about myself and know that I’d feel better if I did it but still I don’t.

Ok, I was open with you and now I feel terribly self indulgent. I’d love to get some comments here from my readers. Do you want me to share this kind of stuff or just be quiet and share pretty photos of Bridget Bardot?

(photo/watercolor collaboration by me and Heather Culp)

32 Responses to Things I’m afraid to tell you

  1. frances May 17, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    So these are notebooks and journals with blank pages? They are lovely as is all you do, and yahoo, there’s an Anthropologie right down the street from me… I love your blog, btw. If you want to “share” more personal stuff, do; but do what feels comfortable and natural for you. Start with little bits, working up to more serious issues – if it feels right for you. On the relatively rare occasion I have shared personal stuff in my own blog I am always surprised and touched by the response, and I’ve felt it really meant something and maybe even helped someone. Most recently I wrote on the untimely death of a close friend… Trust your instincts. Fondly, Frances Schultz

  2. Hillary May 17, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    You are perfect just the way you are! I would love it if you could lose the anxiety but your drive is an inspiration.

  3. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    oh thank you so much Hillary and thank you again Frances. Your words mean the world to me. I’m already feeling glad that I did this post!!

  4. Dona Fling May 17, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I have alot of these same feelings expressed in my “self talk” but in presenting myself to others, quite the opposite…what’s that about???

  5. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Dona, I think it’s always good to “try” to think positively…to present your best self and that’s what I do with clients and most friends. Still we have self doubts and have to try to push them away and think positively. Even as I say this…I know I’ll go through the rigamarole of self doubt talk again soon but we can try to be positive as being negative does not help us…

  6. sam May 17, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Please do share more of yourself. I think it’s good for the reader and cathartic for the writer. I lost my mom three years ago and I know how discombobulating that is, and for how long. Your readers love your art, your inspirational photos, and your voice. I for one and happy to listen and hear more.

  7. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Sam, thank you so much for this sweet comment. I’m so sorry about your mom. I’m so happy to have you as a reader. Thanks for your encouragement!

  8. sam May 17, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Absolutely! I have your prints in my home, and it will only make me love them more knowing more about the person behind the art. That and we are all in this life thing together, and it doesn’t hurt to have some friends out there in the great big Internet.

  9. Dana McClure May 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Here’s my thoughts on the issue of sharing deeper bits of ourselves publicly… I’m torn. As makers, sharing comes naturally, right? We have the creative impulse to exchange – ideas, processes, successes, failures, fears, joys, etc. It brings us closer with other makers & those that support our work and also helps us to think critically about what we’re making and why. This dialog is important. I think it’s courageous to put our complex selves out there and not simplify or sugarcoat our lives. Isn’t this what separates us from brands? (I always cringe a bit at the thought of considering myself a brand). On the flip side, it’s risky to put more revealing parts of yourself out there that may not ‘align’ with the public image you’d like your work to have. That said, I think it’s worth the risk. I personally hope to continue surrounding myself with people, art, objects etc. that celebrate authenticity. Thanks for taking part in this conversation Sam and revealing some of your own truth. You know I’m one of your biggest fans! xo

  10. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm #


    You know your words mean the world to me. You put it so perfectly. It really is about authenticity. I don’t want to be a brand per se but I am, so are you…all artists are….it’s our choice though how we want to be in the world and I think sharing out frailties and fears is such a part of who we are as artists so saying so does bring us closer together in the end which to me is one of the main goals of art. I’m one of your biggest fans! XO.

  11. chelsea May 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Amen to #2. I’ve been feeling this so much lately. I don’t know if it’s the idea of turning 35 soon or what. I am totally freaked out my how fast life is going and feel like I am going to be in a rest home soon so I better hurry up and do everything I want to! I totally get anxiety about it.

    Thanks for sharing this, Samantha!

  12. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    hmmm…what is it about being in our early 30’s…maybe it’s reaching professional and personal success. We wonder what’s next because this is all we’ve dreamed of up till now and the future is a total mystery?

  13. Melanie May 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I totally relate to numbers 3, 4, and 7, especially 3. I lost my younger brother when I was 24 and he was 21. We were so close and it was the worst experience of my life so far. I’m 42 now and terrified of losing my husband and son.

  14. Anne May 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Samantha, Thank you beyond words for writing and sharing this post. I’m honored to know that my own honesty and vulnerability helped you to open up. I related so much to pretty much everything that you said here. I’m driven so much more by fear and anxiety than by joy–fear that if I stop doing what I’m doing (blogging, writing, striving, working, heck, getting out of bed in the morning) I’ll be forgotten. I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t know how to make it better. But I do want you to know you’re not alone and I’m grateful to know that I’m not either. And now I’m going to reply to your wonderful email 🙂

  15. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm #


    I’m so so so sorry. I am constantly told—by my husband—that worrying about something does not prevent it. We have to live in the moment. Relish everyday etc… I try but it really is hard to do. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. Let’s try to be positive!

  16. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Anne, thank you so much! Your post truly did inspire me. On the one hand when I read your comment I think to myself “see anxiety is good”….look at all the good stuff you do…and I do…but I wonder is it just the anxiety that pushes us? Would it be possible for us to proceed with passion and vigor and try to push the anxiety aside or would that make us lay-abouts? Good questions to think about. Thank you so much for this…xo.

  17. Susan May 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I have to think about some of this & the responses. All thoughtful.

    Personally, I love knowing more. We share some of the same fears. In fact, all of them. But I am about 20 yrs older. I can say, without hesitation, that these do not all leave. But some of the fears are made manifest. But you already know that. I love your work. Do what you want, when you want. You will know intuitively if it is for you. I just do not want you to be hurt by a new openness; though you do have support if that does happen. xo


  18. Kate May 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    #1 is my biggest issue right now. Nothing is ever good enough, I never feel satisfied with my accomplishments and place in my life. I think my problem often stems with my tendency to compare myself to others, which is so difficult to avoid in this age of social media. But it’s comforting to know that so many other people feel this way, so I can remind myself that no one has it all together. I suppose it’s better to always be striving to be better than the opposite?
    And hugs, lady, I think about you and your mom often.

  19. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Kate, you were actually one of my major inspirations for doing this. You didn’t have to do an official post as you always fearless share the truth. I’m in awe of your candidness. You’ve shared so many ups and downs in your life through words and amazing visuals. I think you know that I’m a big fan of you as a friend and reader. I now have an even greater respect for the amount of courage it takes to even mention a fear or foible so thank you so much for commenting here. It truly means the world to me to know that you struggle with some of the same creative issues I do. I miss you. Come back to NYC! I’ll come to Cali for certain on my book tour fall 2013….but I hope to see you before then. Thanks for thinking of me and my mom! All my love,


  20. Samantha Hahn May 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Susan, thank you so much for your support and comments. It’s comforting to know that regardless of age, we all deal with fears. I know that being open about them can potentially open me up to some scrutiny but I’m already feeling so glad I wrote this post from the comments I’ve received and the personal emails from friends and fellow bloggers who feel the same. We’re all the same in many ways which is a great comfort to me! XO to you.

  21. Melissa de la Fuente May 18, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Oh, Samantha…the funny thing is…I think most of us feel most of those things most of the time. I am afraid of running out of time, as I get older. Afraid I will, at this point, always be 40 pds over what I was pre-kiddos. Afraid I will let my girls down somehow, no matter how hard I try to always be the best mom for them. You get my jist….these things or knowing these things just make me admire you more & relate to you even more. Thanks for sharing hunnie…I think you are awesome.

  22. Samantha Hahn May 18, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Thank you so much for commenting here. I’m happy to hear from you. While it’s comforting to know we go through the same things, I’m sorry to hear you have anxieties too. I think you are awesome and talented and I’m sure your girls totally agree. Big XOXO.

  23. Marika Hahn May 18, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    You are talented, loving, the best mother in the universe and STRONGER than you think!!!!!

  24. Lucy May 18, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    I think that this is a beautiful post, and probably your most honest. Reading these things as an outsider makes me think that actually you know yourself quite well and that to me makes up for the fact that you see these things as imperfections. Some of these definitely echo in my life. One thing you can be sure of is that you paint fantastically, don’t doubt that!

  25. Samantha Hahn May 18, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Thank you so much Lucy. So sweet of you to say.

  26. Villa May 18, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    All those things on your list are me too, except until 2 months ago I started working out. Lol. Lets be friends. 🙂

  27. Samantha Hahn May 18, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Villa—I’m sure you feel better from the exercise right?! I went for a jog this morning. Not as far as I used to run but it was a start!

  28. Frances Schultz May 22, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Dear Samantha, Wow. Sending you a hug from 69th Street. Love, Frances

  29. samantha hahn May 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    thank you Frances!

  30. Betsey June 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Hi Samantha
    I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time and just happen to be browsing tonight and caught up on some old posts from your blog. I really appreciate your candidness and it always makes me feel more connectd to an artist/blogger to know they are going through many of the same struggles I am! That probably sounds silly, but I couldn’t imagine someone as talented as you ever doubting yourself, but it ring minds us all that we’re all in this together ! Xo!

  31. Samantha Hahn June 18, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Betsy, thank you so much for this super sweet comment. I’m happy you think it was a good idea to share some personal stuff. I went back and forth about it. In the end I do think it’s important to share who I am as well as the things I like from the internet. I really love connecting with people. We’re all human and dealing with the same things! XO.

  32. Dana C Thomas July 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I just discovered your work this morning after climbing out from under the piles of paper I have been buried beneath. I love your work.

    As for the candid sharing…I always appreciate a glimpse into the person not just the facade.

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