The most grateful thing about me starting my creative journey has definitely been the lessons I've learnt about myself, my behaviour, my triggers, what I actually like doing and who I actually like to be around. I've learnt a lot and I'm going to share a few little nuggets with you.
1. Self love is real and its real important.
The way we treat ourselves is probably the most vital thing I've learnt on my road to having a healthy happy life. I'm not sure if you can be born with self doubt or if that's something you learn over time but I have it. I'm unsure in almost everything I do and always question myself and this leads to that little monster rearing its little head and telling me how worthless I am. What I've learnt is that it IS important to talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend. Be kind, understanding, encouraging. That monster is always going to be there but I'm getting better at telling her to shut the hell up and to trust my instincts more.
I also am slowly unravelling the mind washing I've had all my life of my exterior looks equaling my self worth. What a load of absolute crap. But, sadly it's what we learn at an early age and what is drummed into us on basically all media outlets and often amongst friends and family, and most definitely strangers. The size of my waistline has absolutely nothing to do with my kindness to others, my desire to help and bring up other people, my want to make my friends and family happy and feel loved, my honesty, contribution, my drive and work ethic, my authenticity and integrity. NOTHING. Nothing to do with what actually makes you beautiful. So why, did I spend so many years trying to fit the mould of what others classify as beautiful? It makes no freakin' sense and it is an evil mind washing that sadly most women in the western world (maybe all over the world) go through.
So, I show myself self love by my actions. I exercise because I know it helps my mental health and I get all those juicy endorphins. I meditate to allow my mind to relax. I pleasure myself to release that energy and because it's fucking great. I smile. I dance and I sing because it makes me happy. And I create.
Tip: Learn what you love to do and do it. And be kind to yourself in the process. You are uniquely you and that is the best gift you could ever give to the world, be uniquely you.
*Side note: I hate when people say just be yourself when you actually haven't figured out who the hell you are yet. It takes time and it takes lots of trying new and different things, with lots of patience and self reflection to figure this out. And also, it will continually change as you learn and change so yeah, just a bit confusing I know.
2. As quoted by Brene' Brown "If your are not in the arena also getting your arse kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback"
THIS my friends, is key. I think a lot of people who are not comfortable in their own skin or who maybe don't have it all as figured out as they portray, absolutely LOVE to dish out advice. I believe that a lot of them genuinely believe they are helping, or some are just trying to fill up some hole they are dealing with. But what I do know for sure is if they are not in the arena with you, being vulnerable, putting themselves out there, working their butts off and getting their butts kicked all over that arena, then they are definitely not worth listening to. Now, that is easier said than done but with time and practice, you'll be able to recognise those people and tell them to butt the hell out (or at least mentally tell them that as you smile graciously and say 'yes, painting CAN be a hobby, but for me it's my job...').
What IS extremely beneficial is finding people in that arena who will pick you up when you've fallen, who will throw you your sword back once you've dropped it. Who will get kicked out of their with you, clean themselves up and jump right back in. I think having a group of likeminded people who are unconditional in their support and back each other up is so important. There ain't no room for jealousy or competition here. We each have our own unique voice to give and helping lift a comrade up on your journey is not going to negatively impact you. In fact, what is likely to happen is they'll remember this support and when they are sitting on their thrown at the castle they'll pull up a seat for you too.
I have a local art group called the Geelong Illustrators - and honestly, without them I could not be where I am today.
Tip: Get a gang.
Contribution. Something that I am learning is that we can all be selfish people. We can all look very narrowly at our own lives and think to be happy, I need that comfortably beautiful house with a gigantic backyard thats on the beach with a boat and a horse and studio. "Yes once I get all those things I'll be happy". And the thing is, I believe that material things and being comfortable and having that boat can all bring happiness. It's just that its short lived. So once you have all those things, and your career is going great guns and your selling all your work and churning out art, then I think your happiness won't last, you'll be lost and maybe, like, have a midlife crisis....? I'm not so sure. But what I do think is if you can set your life up so that its meaning extends beyond you, it's meaning is aligned with helping others, with improving others lives, with contribution, I think that's when you find real purpose and real happiness.
Now, if you figure out how to achieve this then please let me know! I'm working towards this and I'm not entirely sure what this looks like but even from writing about this I feel a shift in myself from the narrow minded selfish version of me needing to sell more art to grow as an artist, to me wanting to figure out how to align my work and creativity to benefit others. And thats a very empowering thought.
Note: these are lessons I've learnt (am learning) which I've done through listening to many podcasts, reading many books and watching many documentaries. In future posts I'll make some lists of things that have helped me to grow in case you are interested!