Just like when Romeo met Juliet or when my daughter decides to put peanut butter and cheese in a sandwich because it is apparently ‘the best thing ever!’ and it isn’t…sometimes magic happens when two things come together and sometimes it just doesn’t. By the way if you are a fan of peanut butter and cheese sandwiches, please do let me know. As far as I am aware my partner, Sam and my older daughter are the only ones who devour these.
Right, so this post is not about a love story or an article on nutrition. It is about acceptance and the fear behind acceptance. Yeah, I know. This is super light-hearted…
For years now, I have toyed with the idea of thinking of as myself as an artist. I am not sure if this idea has been completely accepted by my internal being, but I toss it around quite often. I admit, art feels innate to me, I don’t live, breathe or dream it as some artists do, however it is something I love and feels like a natural part of who I am.
Insert, edit – 1 week after I first published this post.
After I initially wrote this article, I couldn’t let it go. Normally I write, I edit, I publish and then move on. This time, it just didn’t feel right and I thought about removing the post completely but that is not what I want. This is my story with all the ups and downs, twists and turns, not just the happy, pretty bits. Over the last week I kept a mental track of whether I did actually live, breath and dream about art, my art, ideas about art and really anything art related and I do! Oh my goodness, nothing has ever been more obvious. It is something innately part of who I am down to my very core. There is almost not a moment there I don’t stop thinking about art, how I can learn more, what I can create and what I am creating now. All day I hang out for even one hour of creating artwork (though this doesn’t always happen right now but that is okay). If this isn’t being an artist, then I don’t know what is. For now I am good with this.
Instead of removing the past I have left it here in case you want to read what I started with. Even though technology allows us to hit delete on the past, we cannot removed our past thoughts or emotions from who we are. It is what helps us grow.
Our stories can evolve day to day as do we and it is this progress that I love. It allows us to be honest with ourselves.
I do apologise for the disruption, please do read on.
…I’ve slowly and I mean painfully slowly put myself out there, though this does not come easy to me. My default option would be to hide it all so every now and then when someone asks me about my artwork, particularly the question ‘What inspired you to create this piece?’ I completely froze. It is of course a completely appropriate question to ask of an artist, but I just never knew how to answer it. Not just for one reason but for a few.
First, I didn’t know how to answer that question in an acceptable manner for what I thought people might want to hear. My pieces are not always from the happiest of places.
Second, most of them, are deeply connected to me. Creating art was my escape. For hours I would be lost in the world of pencils and paper. There aren’t many pieces I create that are just artworks for sale.
And finally, I wasn’t ready to share the deepest part of my emotional being in the verbal or written format. I was, and a part of me still is, happy for my artwork to hang on the wall and for the viewer to make of it what they will.
I didn’t see it then but I think deep down I was just hiding. Not sharing what made me tick and what helped me to create what I create came easily to me. I didn’t particularly see a problem with this and I’m not sure I do now but then sometimes, I think ‘Wouldn’t it just be great to let go of holding back who I am and share this with the world?’
This was how I felt for years, having a small internal battle of accepting who I wanted to be with who I thought the world expected me to be, without ever realising that no one and I mean no one put as much pressure as I did on myself to be who I thought the world would accept.
Fast forward a few years from there and I found the confidence, albeit a very small bit of confidence to put myself out there in another creative form. The written form. I was ready, though hesitantly, to share my story of mental health battles, the growth I was experiencing with the changes that were happening with my mindset all the while learning about my life, who I am and some many other things. I started early last year under a blog titled ‘The Flipside of Thirty’ and I was so darn proud of it. There I was, finally, after years of worrying about sharing my story, concerned about criticism, the fallout, the judgement, sharing the deepest and at times the darkest parts of my life. I realised that sharing my journey and my story was more important than all those things that had once held me back.
Except I wasn’t willing to own that newfound acceptance of my story because I wasn’t sharing it under my name, even though I understood the importance behind it. Now you might think, well that is okay there are a lot of other blogs that people write and they are not ‘self-titled’, however I wasn’t doing it to stand out with a ‘brand name’, I didn’t care the slightest bit about that. I was just doing it to hide and I knew it. I even contemplated writing under the ‘Anonymous’ name instead of my own name, which in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t do!
It is so odd to think that I didn’t want to be associated with my own story. Do other people do this? I didn’t want to be known for who I was and who I had been and the journey I was on. If that is not denial, then I don’t know what is.
Initially when I started the blog it was just to keep me accountable to journalling regularly, putting my thoughts down so I could look back on the journey I was taking and maybe along the way a few people would read it.
So, there I was writing and creating art in my spare time but never connecting the two. Keeping the two worlds separate was the best thing to do, I thought. I would be known for my art under my name and for everything else under another ‘title’, the blog title. I find it so bizarre now that I was sharing two massive aspects of my life, things that made me who I am yet refusing to see that I wasn’t one without the other. I feared what the world would think about my art if they knew deeply who the person was behind the art. I wondered constantly whether people cared at all and if they did care, would they abandon me as not only an artist but as a friend. Would they respect me less, wonder what I cared about or think me unfocused?– As an aside this is one of my biggest personal hurdles, because I am quite the unfocused individual – If this then were to happen and I was abandoned by people who I thought cared, then would I care? What was more important? Caring about what the world thought of me? Or owning the person I was and wanted to be become and sharing with the world? Would it matter that a few people might indeed say ‘Yeah, she isn’t my cup of tea’ and move one?
I pondered this so much that I couldn’t bring myself to write for most of this year, I felt like a hypocrite. There I was writing about acceptance, ownership and change, all the while unable to apply those things to myself. I was also no longer okay with keeping the two worlds separate because I felt like I was lying to myself.
I had to take some time out to find out what I wanted from myself AND for myself but also to take a step back to work out what was important to me.
‘Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? Am I passionate about mental health? Or maybe I simply want to create art? Maybe I wanted to be a writer and share with the world my thoughts on mental health, mindset shifts and gratitude? Was I really just writing for myself or was there something more? Could what I create in all aspects help impact others in a positive way? Do I want the responsibility?
Maybe I don’t want any of this?
I’m not sure if many people ponder these kinds of things or if this was a tactic employed by my mind to avoid doing anything productive. Maybe I allowed myself to get caught up in it, more than I would normally. I felt there had to be an end to the constant tugging of my brain with all these questions.
I did vent these questions to a few people but there was one person in particular who, unfortunately, was forced to listen to all these ponderings. Sam (insert wonderful other half) had to listen to all of it. Poor man. For someone who is quite practical, calculated and calm, listening to me go on and on…and on about the meaning of my life and what I wanted from it, this was no easy task. He did splendidly and refrained from saying ‘Seriously, less talk, more action. Just bloody get on with it!’ for about two of the six months of my deep life questioning saga. I tend to have these life questioning moments once a year about some aspect of my life, so it is safe to say he is doing alright.
Finally, about a month ago I gave myself permission to accept the possibility that I am simply passionate about all these things. Creating art, writing, discussing mental health, mindset, and lifestyle choices. It is just who I am and if this is my story then I couldn’t just focus on one thing. Creating art was a form of solace for me during some of my biggest mental health battles from a young age. They are so closely tied together that it now seems ludicrous to have tried to keep them separate. It is this connection to my artwork that allows me to create my art pieces. I am not just an artist nor am I just a writer who is passionate about mental health. I am simply a creative person that has a creative background. I can now move forward from here, proud of this small truth. Even though to many, it was probably clear a long time ago. As they say, everyone gets there in their own time and way.
In saying all of this, the last month has been incredibly confronting for me. If I said I didn’t feel scared, nervous and apprehensive I would be lying. I feel all of this tenfold, every day. I just have to allow myself to sit with these emotions.
Now I have nowhere to hide and internally it feels like I’m screaming ‘Aghhhhhhh’ but it is okay. I want to share the story and learnings of the person behind the art. I also know the screaming will die down eventually.
There is also a small part of me that is just a little bit excited about what lies ahead.