Rachel Uwa is a creative educator, human, artist, and founder of the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe. Her background lies in audio engineering and VFX compositing. Her biggest desire is to see people living the lives they dream of living rather than the one they feel they ought to. Rachel is also leading Be Bold(er): An Online Creative Mentorship in the month of January. We asked her about what it means to be bold, how we can cultivate boldness, and what it means to her and her creative practice.
The online mentorship deals with the idea of boldness. Why is this such an important topic in relationship to one’s work and one’s self?
At some point I remember reflecting on education and thinking half of what we’re learning when we take a class is confidence, and that it’s really one of the most important things in regard to one’s self and work. But then I realised, ‘Oh wait, I’m wrong! The most important thing isn’t actually confidence, it’s courage!’ Confidence is doing something we feel perfectly capable of doing. Courage is not feeling confident and yet doing something anyway! To me, being bold is about putting courage into action, and that’s exactly what I want to help people with!
I did it because I couldn’t not do it. That’s what being who you are feels like. Being bold is just a step in the process. But an important step.
One could say that we have a lot of conflicting signals about engaging with boldness: Be bold, but don’t put yourself in “danger”. Be bold, but don’t be perceived as being egotistical. Do you think this has affected our relationship with and ideas about boldness? What’s to be done?
I don’t think being bold has to be drastic or necessarily have to draw on ego. But yes, I suppose it can be tricky. I think the idea is more that being bold leads you to being more comfortable being fully who you are (because you’ve tried things and you now know what those experiences feel like). I shared a story on Medium some time ago. In it, I’m talking about a really bad situation I saw someone in and how I made a decision to do what I could to help. I didn’t do what I did to be bold or purposely put myself in a dangerous situation. I did it because I couldn’t not do it. That’s what being who you are feels like. Being bold is just a step in the process. But an important step. I think we get there when we’re ready, when we (finally) feel comfortable with ourselves.
How does mentorship come into play in this? How can mentorship foster boldness?
I think mentorship is super underrated! Having someone we trust to talk through ideas with, to help us look at things from all angles, and really get to the bottom of something, is super invaluable! I think I’ve always had older people around me who’ve helped steer me in positive directions. I’ve just lived through a lot and learned things and I want to give back while I still can! I’m seeing too many brilliant creative humans doubt themselves. And I feel called to help change this.
If every human had five people in their lives they could turn to who believed in them and supported them fully, I think we would see a worldwide human revolution!
What’s an example of you engaging with boldness in your everyday life that affected your work?
I think working in male-dominated industries (audio, VFX, technology in general) where I didn’t see people who looked like me, but chose to pursue careers in those areas anyway. Starting my own school might also be seen as a pretty bold move. Following my own path rather than the ones parents and society typically try and lead us down has been my norm rather than an exception, so I’ve got many years of bold practice under my belt!
Do you think boldness is catalysed from key moments, or is it something that grows through regular, intentional practice?
Definitely like anything, it’s a practice! I think we often think if we hear something once and make some action, that’s enough. But it’s an ongoing process and we need to be reminded and take action often in order to keep our practice up! I encourage micro-dosing on being bold, being micro-bold, if you will. But it’s important to have reasons for doing it, just being “bold” for boldness sake isn’t really the point. It’s doing so with intention!
I know so many brilliant humans doing brilliant, even enviable, work. And yet, self-doubt and fear is alive and well in their minds and really holds them back. Well, enough of that!
What attracts you to the topics that this workshop is concerned with? Why do you think we as people and/or creators/technologists should be engaging with them?
Creators and creative people often have gigantic crippling waves of self-doubt. It’s shocking! I know so many brilliant humans doing brilliant, even enviable, work. And yet, self-doubt and fear is alive and well in their minds and really holds them back. Well, enough of that! We’re capable of so much but we hold ourselves back way too often. I’ve been there before, I know how cruel we can be to ourselves. But luckily, I also know we can learn to appreciate who we are and our experiences of life and use that to be kinder to ourselves. Life can be better than what we let it be, so why not try! I also think there’s nothing like a supportive community. If every human had five people in their lives they could turn to who believed in them and supported them fully, I think we would see a worldwide human revolution! We need to know what good relationships feel like and seek more of them! So that’s the kind of atmosphere I’m going for!
Be Bold(er): An Online Creative Mentorship takes place online, Tuesdays, Jan. 22, 2019 - Feb. 12, 2019 7pm-10pm, CET.
16 January 2019