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Confessions of a Reality Show Finalist

When I was called by the creator of Skin Wars, I confess I had a bit of a panic attack. It was not something I was sure I wanted to do. But I quickly realized that BECAUSE it was so scary to me, that meant I HAD to go for it. I had to push forward. Get uncomfortable. Be terrified. Grow.

Once on set, I did find myself terrified and uncomfortable much of the time. That first time in the workroom all I could think was, "How did I get here? I have no business painting with the likes of these amazing artists." But I also found myself growing and improving in leaps and bounds- as a body painter and as a human being. I tried weird things that didn't work. I got myself into the weeds. I learned to use an airbrush on the fly. (My tactic was to use it a bit on every challenge, so that by the time I got to the end I'd be somewhat proficient.) I had to learn to paint while explaining myself to celebrity judges surrounded with cameras.

Challenge by challenge I gained confidence. I started collecting wins and found myself in the top 3 in almost every challenge. I finally started believing that maybe I DID belong there. Hey- I might even WIN this thing.

Through it all, I tried to keep the goals that I had set for myself before arriving:

#1 I wanted to execute as many challenges as possible. I knew that trying lots of different things was where learning and transformation would come.

#2 I swore to listen intently to ALL critiques from the judges- not only of my pieces, but all the other contestants' as well. Constructive critique from a master is the most valuable gift an artist can get.

#3 I made a conscious decision in the very beginning to let myself be completely open and vulnerable. I promised myself I'd never be jaded. I'd never try to put on a character. Just be real and wear my heart on my sleeve.

Early on I realized I had to banish all preconceptions about what I "should" paint or what the judges might want. I decided to keep my mind clear and never try to second guess what was coming. I didn't clutter my mind with trying to figure out what the next challenge would be, who would go home next, or what kind of story arc the producers where trying to create. This had an almost supernatural effect on my creativity. At times I felt as though I was merely an instrument, and the "divine" was actually moving through me. It was powerful and transformative.

Okay, so I "only" made it to second place. The win was SO CLOSE- to not quite make it all the way was admittedly disappointing. But... I will never be the same. I've become a different person. I DID grow. I learned more than I could have in years of "regular life". I forged friendships that are deeper than anything I'd experienced before. Only by facing my fears and walking straight into the terrifying inferno did I experience profound growth and transformation.

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