Dorland, Day 5


Yesterday was a weird day, and you'll read about it below. But I decided to take a self-portrait and use the first image I shot, whether I liked it or not. I tried not to present myself as anything, but just be. It's hard to do that in front of a camera, to be that vulnerable and honest. But this image is what happened when I attempted it.

I am posting my journal entry from yesterday in its entirety:

Wednesday was really up and down for me. I woke up mostly cheerful. Facetimed with my parents. Had my coffee and breakfast. Wrote in my journal and edited photos. As I edited, I listened to a podcast, called Millennial, which brought up a lot of emotion, and things turned south pretty quickly for me.

The podcast is all about navigating your early adulthood. It covers fear of failure, swallowing your pride, feeling fulfilled, relationships, money, dreams. One episode I listened to yesterday covered following your heart and not settling for less than what you deserve. The next covered the ways in which we become our own worst enemies through self doubt. These back-to-back episodes sent me into a day of existential spiraling. WTF am I doing here? What do I really want to do with my life? Will I ever feel fulfilled? Successful? Grounded? Are my fears derailing me? Or is it that I actually don't want to be an artist?

Being an artist is hard. That may sound absurd to you. To many, it appears glamorous and maybe even self-indulgent. But so much of the time I feel like I'm totally gutting myself and leaving my organs and dark secrets on pedestals and pinned to gallery walls for everyone to poke and prod and criticize and analyze. And then there are the meet and greet moments:

"So what do you do?"

"I'm an artist."

"That's cool, but no, I meant what do you DO? Like how do you earn your living?"

Why is THAT the question people ask? The money question. Shouldn't the questions be more like: "What do you do that keeps you going?" Whether it's your job or that fact that you collect rare fossils, play black jack online, and love to make your own beer, isn't that WAY more of a conversation starter than discussing your income.

I'm on a tangent, but yes, being an artist gives me at least a few moments of anxiety and misery on a daily basis. And during those moments I hear the voice in my head: "Get a real job."

I didn't come to this residency just to frolic in the mountains and make art. I also came here to have this crisis. To sit with myself. To be uncomfortable with myself. To get in touch with my insecurities, the things I hate about myself, and to hopefully come out on the other side of these four weeks maybe a little more confident in who I am, what I want, and where I'm going. And giving a lot less weight to the opinions of others.

So yesterday, the shiny newness of my residency wore off and that process began. I've already broken my daily goals. I didn't hike yesterday and I didn't play piano. And I definitely didn't avoid social media. (To my joy and dismay, they installed Wifi in my studio before I arrived.) But failing at those things is okay. I'm taking a pass and having some patience with myself.

These were the day's dips. But with lows come highs and there were some joyful and funny moments yesterday, too. I read my book in the sunshine. And while I was out there, a massive beetle walked up and startled me, prompting me to jump up and stand on my chair and then completely crack up at the absurdity of the moment. For someone who loves the outdoors, I am NOT good with the critters. I also started my first drawing. I only took two photos, one being a self-portrait, but I used my camera. I belted out to Nina Simone and made an absurd and entertaining lip-syncing video. And I ate TWO whole pizzas by myself for dinner because I wanted to...

I might have gone to bed drowning in a lake of self-loathing, but the cheesy saying is true: Tomorrow is a new day.

"Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't --- and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown. Perhaps fantasy is what you fill up maps with rather than saying that they contain the unknown... Awareness of ignorance is not just ignorance; it is awareness of knowledge's limits... And the terra incognita spaces on maps say that knowledge also is an island surrounded by oceans of the unknown."

Rebecca Solnit, "A Field Guide to Getting Lost"

More posts...


KATHLEEN

SAUNDERS