Monday, June 18, 2018

my art is not my life and why it shouldn't be yours either

The other day I was scrolling through one of my Pinterest boards as one does to procrastinate from actual productivity when I ran into this salty little tweet that I had pinned.

Can i get this framed or embroidered on a pillow plz?
I laughed.  And then I cringed.  Because it's so true!  I can't count the number of times I've given up on something because it didn't come naturally to me.  Even when it comes to the things I love and am good at,  I often find myself giving up the minute things begin to challenge me. I know being an artist and a student it's an embarrassing thing to admit.  For someone who claims to love growing and thriving as much as I do, I really suck at it.

And then I realized something.  That's kind of been my catchphrase for when things go wrong or get too hard.  "I just suck at it."  With every attempt to learn a dance I've given into a despairing mentality instead of enjoying the process, instead of accepting that the steps will take longer to cement in my muscle memory than they will for most people and enjoying the process.  I took the probability that I would never have superhuman dance skills and turned it into a reason to give up. I'd subconsciously come to the conclusion that difficulty must be devoid of any emotions but frustration and despair.  It's not an unfamiliar story to me.

When I was eleven or twelve I began to take music seriously.  My quick progression and my newfound ability to start playing some of my favorite classical pieces motivated me to practice.  When I was fourteen I started take lessons at a college.  At fifteen my Dr. F told my mother that if I kept up at it I had the potential to play piano with the same skill level as a doctorate level music student.  And then something happened in the next year.  The motivation wore off and I had reached a low in  many areas of my life.  Pieces were getting more technically difficult and my home situation was messy.  I had been clinging to motivation and inspiration as my artistic drive instead of steady determination.  My attention waned and by 17 I flunked my last piano recital and stopped taking lessons.  I seethed with anger at myself for about an hour after the recital, pounding out chords on the piano with tense muscles and repressed tears before I slumped down on the bench exausted.  The sardonic thought lurked in my mind.  "I just suck at everything eventually anyways."  My identity as a musician was shattered.

And that's the problem.  I had wrapped myself in an identity that was too fragile to protect me from any disaster.  Having that image of myself shattered didn't do much for my sense of worth or confidence.  Recently I was talking to one of my best friends and we were discussing how busy life is and how certain personal things were so emotionally draining that it made it impossible to focus on the things we wanted to focus on.  She told me that so many things not working out for her had really chipped away at her self-worth. Her words really resonated with me and I realized something paramount about my art.
Found on Pinterest
I've recently felt spread thin trying to live up to all of my 'identities,' to feel validated in my assumption of the titles of writer, artist, thespian, feminist, student, daughter, sister, friend, adult, and everything else in between.  My inability to focus on all of them (and lets be honest, barely any of them) has be really detrimental to my ability to produce my best art and live my best life.  I cannot name the number of times I've allowed my constant state of mental noise, confusion, and fear of failure to get in the way of an opportunity to grow.  If there's one problem that I believe affects the majority of young artists it's an overwhelming focus on their image as an artist rather than their art.  If I'm being entirely honesty, I'm not good at being an artist.  I'm really not great at most of the things I do. When I tie my worth to my identity, I can be certain that at some point my identity will fail me, and I will feel worthless.

That might sound over dramatic, but I truly believe that there is only one identity that will not fail me.  That is, my identity in Christ.  People tend to think that they are what they do, but what if you strip that away from them. Then who are they?  If I am not a writer, if I am not an artist, then who am I?  The thought itself can be terrifying if we don't have a stronger identity than the boxes we put ourselves and others in.   I am by no means as strong in my faith as I should be, but the realization that my identity lies in the most powerful and Loving Being in (and outside) the universe gives me so much peace.  Labeling myself as a writer or a sister or a friend or musician will only detract from my life in Christ if I do not use these things to do His will and glorify Him. 
thelifeofjessicaa:  The best education you will ever get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences
Found on Pinterest
If you ask me what things matter most to me in the world they'd probably go somewhat in this order.  My faith, my family, writing and food, and education and health. Here's the thing though.  If I don't don't actually place the thing I claim to be first on my list first, the rest of the things will not succeed in fulfilling me and eventually they will fail me in one aspect or another.  Writing is not my life.  Following God is.  At most, my writing is a calling that helps me to grow closer to Him and do His will.  When I think about it this way, it makes me realize that having writing as a calling from God (whether I know why or not) is more of an honor and a blessing than having my main identity as a writer and making that the center of my life. 

If I'm being honest, this post was more for me to realize the struggle to make Christ the center of my life than it was to convince others.  Whoever this post is for and whoever it reaches, I think the best thing I can say about it is this.  When I allow the Creator of the Universe to be the motivation for everything I do with my life, everything has more meaning and purpose.  Even my monumental artistic failures.  With God, my failures are more powerful than any genius inspired thing I use to defy Him.  There are reasons why we love the things we do whether we are good at them or not.  If we joyfully and patiently pursued them without any thought for success or genius the world would be a much better place.  God is more powerful than the collective minds of the greatest geniuses.  Our situations in life and the identities we claim are irrelevant when we place ourselves in the hands of the Greatest Artist of all.  No 'medium' daunts Him, and when we choose to cooperate with his will, we become a part of the greatest Work of Art.  If this is so, we must ask ourselves, does any situation or identity really matter in the face of such Wonder?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Time for Change

Surprise, surprise!  I'm not dead!

I recently realized that I hadn't blogged in over half a year and how much I missed blogging.  I also realized that this is something I've been saying for the past year or so after neglecting my blog for months.  I think my problem is not only my insane school and work schedule ever since I moved out for my last two years of college, but the fact that my perspective and points of interest have shifted a bit since then.

After some serious contemplation I decided that I didn't want to just delete my blog and create a new one; after all it's not like I've completely shifted focus in life.  I'm still a nerd who likes to read and write, I've just... changed a bit and it makes sense that my blog should too.

So here's the plan.  I'm going to keep all of my old (and oftentimes embarrassing) posts and focus on a lot of the same topics (mainly the literary) but I'm also instigating a few major changes.

1)  I'm going to start posting on a bi-weekly schedule.  I know.  What a novel idea.

2)  I'm going to take this in more of a personal direction by talking about my journey through my last year at college (and hopefully into grad school).  As I'm an English major getting a certificate in Creative Writing and a minor in Theater, I don't think it's going to be an incredibly drastic change.  This way I'll have an outlet to discuss my life AND what I'm passionate about.

3)  As well as focusing on my personal, literary, and artistic journey, I really want to share some of my favorite fellow artists and bloggers work with you and support them on their journeys.  Expect a lot more fan-girling over Indie Authors, blog takeovers, interviews, and general art appreciation posts.

4)  In the past couple of years I've started taking my own writing a lot more seriously, so there will definitely be some posts about my writing process.  Either that or I'll just cry into the keyboard about how hard the journey to becoming a professional writer is.  Who knows, I might even share some of my actual writing... gasp.

Unfortunately this incredibly rusty blogger has a job she has to get to, but expect more posts in the near future...



Saturday, September 23, 2017

what i've learned in college || a poem

I've learned that
it's okay to say 'no'
to speak in more than sotto voce
when I need to be heard
that when others can't speak
I am required to be their voice.

I've learned that
busses and bus stops
are were kindred spirits meet
and that miracles conceal themselves
in the everyday
the mundane
the commonplace
--there is beauty in broken flowerpots.

I have learned that
being 'a chill girl' may be cool,
but it's not hot enough
to set my soul on fire
spread those sparks
of life, of love, of hope
there are molecules of
gold and stardust
in my veins
NOT made to be suppressed
--to take up less space
I was made to burn for an eternity
and not be consumed
--to outlive the stars themselves.

I have learned that
it is no good to be lukewarm
there is no glory in fitting in,
in being liked by all
You and me,
We are made royalty
by the blood that was shed for us
--that runs in our veins
And when we accept our Birthright
We will shine.

I have learned that
kind and pushover
do not have to be synonymous
and that strength and femininity
can exist in harmony.
That Love and Truth are not antonyms
and that I am not as kind as I can be
Love lies within me but it is not me
It is He who created me.

I have learned
and am learning
and I believe that
When my last breath leaves
and my aching lungs collapse
I will be learning still.

*  *  *  *  *
What have you learned/been learning this semester?  <333


DISCLAIMER:  I promise I have been doing my homework and learning a lot about writing and literature and theater. They just didn't automatically fit into the aesthetic of the poem. XD

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Should Be Studying...

I have fifteen minutes till I have to gallop to my first class of the day, two essays to read before my third class, and an upcoming interview which I'm trying to ignore.  Apparently conducting an interview is more stressful than being the subject of one.  Who would've thought?
via Pinterest
One reason I'm here instead of reading American Gothic Literature is that I MISS YOU GUYS and I just wanted to drop a few lines to assure you that I do NOT intend to abandon this blog over the next two years.

Two years.  I'm also writing this because only two years from now I will be done with this degree and figuring out what to do next in life.  I'm not gonna lie, I'm afraid of what will happen when I am no longer within the safe confines of University class schedules and teachers guiding you through the themes of literature. If only they were as clear in life as they are in literature.

Three days ago I was complaining to myself about adulting.  I never had to cook three meals a day or meal plan or figure out my budget for entertainment and outings before.  I never had to worry about being good enough to keep a job that I had to work to get in the first place, even if it's just washing dishes for three hours after class.  The thing is, this isn't actually adulting I don't think.  This is the fun part.  This is where I get to take risks and make mistakes and learn new things and be in an environment where professionals are paid to care what and how I think.  I am scared of two years from now.

Four years ago I tiptoed into my first college class, a shy, waif-ish child.  And I fell in love with learning all over again.  Je suis, tu es, il, elle est, nous sommes, vous etes, ils, elles sont... The mind, I realized, was like the universe, an ever expanding being full of undiscovered potential.  Here my ideals are safe from destruction and pollution and people care.  My script analysis book states that Hamlet was the same way when he left the University at Wittenburg.  I don't think I risk getting run through with a poisoned sword or involuntarily killing everyone I love, but I still fear the harsh reality that will beat me up two years from now.

My time is up, I must go learn the anatomy of a 'braided essay.' If you made it through this incredibly emo post, thank you for listening, and please tell me what you've been up to since we last talked! 

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