23: nobody likes you

I turned 23 at the beginning of 2017. Now, having a full year to digest it all, I can say that Blink may have been onto something. 

It was a year of endings and new beginnings. I graduated college and entered the workforce, or more accurately, attempted to enter. I traveled to unexpected places, met quirky people, and made new plans. 

When you are in your early 20’s, there seem to be all sorts of expectations for what you should be doing with your life. If you aren’t advancing towards a career, building a family, or achieving other lofty goals, you are written off as immature or lost. 

While I didn’t accomplish anything overtly incredible this past year, I made it through tough times and learned a lot. I think it is more important to learn from tough times than to berate yourself for not being where you’re told you should be.

You may have seen it, but I saw an infographic this year that really spoke to me. It asked the viewer two simple questions. Do you have a problem? Can you do anything about it? The premise is that when we face a hard time, we have two possibilities. Either we can do something to remedy the issue, or we can’t, in which case we have no reason to worry about it anymore. In my case, I can’t do anything about what other people expect of me. I can only do what I can do, which is to live and learn and grow. 

In February 2018, I will be traveling the world to New Zealand. I got a working holiday visa, a plane ticket, and I have zero plans past that. It is daunting, to say the least, because I have no idea what will happen while I am there. 

Soon I’ll be 24. I still don’t have life sorted out. I don’t have an exciting career to climb or anything that people seem to believe I should have at this point in my life, but I do have a lot to look forward to this year. I don’t know where life will take me, but I do know that I will learn a lot, see unexpected places, meet quirky people, and make new plans. 

Kintsugi: and self-doubt

As a creative, I find it incredibly difficult sometimes to get past the fear of failure and that my work isn’t good enough.

I used to deal with that by hiding my work, never sharing with anyone, what I had spent time and energy creating. I would hide in my room and work, always working, on some new drawing, song, or other creation.

When I started to share, however, is when I started to chip away at my self-doubt. Bit by bit I started to pack in the holes of self-doubt and fear with the kindness and affirmation of whomever I shared my work with. I imagine it like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where cracks are filled with gold to make the original piece only more beautiful as time and tragedy wears it down.

At first, it was hard because all I could feel was the uncomfortable chipping away. However, with time I was able to see that the chipping away of the fear and doubt is what gave room for self-confidence and contentment to grow. I was replacing the bad with the good and, although uncomfortable, it was necessary for me to grow as a person and an artist.

Now I love to share my work. Share my photographs, my random drawings or poems, and my songs. People may not always love what I am sharing, but I know that it doesn’t matter. The act of sharing art is only sharing more beauty with the world.

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