This has been my longest hiatus from writing on the blog in years. Today, the words flow, so here I am, ready to share some of those swirling thoughts with you:
I want to create powerful, meaningful work. Of late, I've lost the motivation to put anything forward on this space, or on social media (you may have noticed my absence, or maybe not). The tremendous amount of pressure I put on myself to put something forward into the world that I am proud of—work that challenges me and moves me and simultaneously makes some positive contribution to someone, somewhere—is often detrimental to my creative process. My growth is stunted before I start, and again and again I have to remember to get out of my own damn way.
I am a recovering perfectionist; someone who only tuned into cultivating an internal language of self-compassion a few years ago. I clearly have a long way to go. There are all these self-limiting beliefs that run rampant in my head before I realise the seeds have long been planted there: the idea that I cannot take up space because I am not worthy (for there are many other excellent artists putting forward far more brilliant work than I); the idea that I have perhaps lost momentum or have started too late or have not yet achieved anything (which leads to more questions: when will I feel as if I have “achieved”? What is my definition of that? Whose validation is it that I am looking for?); the idea that I still haven't “figured it out” and haven't found a way to make a valuable or meaningful contribution as an artist; and so the list continues. I don't judge myself for these thoughts, but I've been a keen observer of how they enter and re-enter and overstay their welcome despite my best efforts to push them aside.
For many of us, our society and our culture has structured our idea of success as one being attached to tangible outcomes, such as grades, scores, accolades, levels. We leave school, a world of awards and grades, and enter another world, where we then attach success to titles, material possession, salaries.
If I compare myself to my peers, I'll always find things they have “achieved” that I have not. It is little to do with having had the time, chance, or opportunity—but rather that, when certain opportunities presented themselves, I prioritised other things. We can also have a discussion about our obsession with “doing”, and “getting somewhere”—we're forever looking to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing, without being able to sit with what the now has brought us. We achieve one thing only to be dissatisfied because we are already looking at the long list of other things we have yet to accomplish. There's this idea that we “should be further along than we are” that I know myself and many others grapple with, and it is this often toxic mentality that destroys any progress of becoming a friend to oneself.
There's a few life things going on behind my hiatus here, too. Grief, loss, love, homesickness, transience, uncertainty. For the first time in my life I am floating in the ether without a plan, being forced—actually, let's re-frame that more positively—being given the opportunity to learn how to take it a day at a time. A moment at a time. The rate at which my life has changed since migrating to Canada has been seemingly exponential; a by-product of leaving behind the familiar and carving out a life that I want to live. Not every day feels like a success; in fact, most days are confusing, but at least I am on the path.
Sometimes my head feels as if it's about to cave in from the dozens of different things I expect myself to be able to accomplish in a day, a week, a month, a year. I feel the weight of all the different lives I want to live; the number of things I want to achieve. Sometimes it is as if I am constantly running amidst a thick fog, getting nowhere. Nothing feels like progress, but I know I will look back on these days, after certain puzzle pieces have fallen into place, and see that eventually, everything connects. I am trying not to let the space between where I am and where I want to be intimidate me, but at the moment, that feels like half the battle. I am trying to win a war with myself.