When painting, we subconsciously welcome and accept things as they are and find happiness in knowing nothing is forced. Creation is not about satisfying the masses, timelines, perfect symmetry, or even having a plan in place. It's a form of expression where imperfection adds character and translation varies. Each stroke, whether dark, light, fine or bold accentuates the other. We trust the process, diligently transform mishaps into masterpieces, and walk away proud with a unique piece unlike any other. The experience stands as a form of expression, balance and freedom.
However, many of us don’t view life that way. Being shaken or ripped away from our ideas of self and perfection can be so paralyzing that we don’t know which move to make. We go through times in our lives where we mess up, stumble, or completely fall apart and we just want to throw it all away or alter the image completely. Either nothing is worth salvaging so we throw it or we simply over correct and create a hot mess even worse than it was before. The question is: Do we know when it’s time to dissolve or evolve?
We all come into this world as clean slates without a blemish or care in the world. As we grow up, we envision the amazing people we will ultimately become and position ourselves for that conversion. If we remain on course and disciplined, we can transform that image into a reality. All is great until we mess up, think we’re supposed to live up to something else, get lost along the way, or compare our lives to others.
The world has a way of showing us our true colors and those of the people, places, and things around us. The white canvases of our lives become infused with remnants of our brightest and darkest times. The thing about paint and life is that once it’s set, you can’t erase. Designing our own lives becomes a complex and critical endeavor when we take a step back and see what we have the capability to create and destroy ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I had become a beautiful work of everyone else’s vision of art, and being a perfectionist, I thought that was an accomplishment or something to be proud of. Getting praise, views, and approval made me feel wanted, beautiful, and invincible but its effects were only temporary. The more I got, the more in needed, and the more it gave me this shallow, inflated level of pride. I had to constantly perform and conform to be enough.
Inclusion and influence are great but not when it can alter or destroy the life, painting, or platform you’ve already created. My appearance, my direction, and my inner voice were not my own anymore and it really began to show. I may have looked the part, said everything people wanted me to say, or had a smile but I was miserable, depressed, and felt an immense void. It got to a point where I just didn’t want to feel or be anymore. I had become a toxic person who was not only confused and volatile, I was also exhausted and hopeless. I had to stop the pity party of asking myself why this happening and finally ask God what He is trying to tell me because my way clearly wasn’t working.
Ever looked in the mirror and just watched yourself breakdown and cry? You sulk in your sadness without a sense of direction and try to talk yourself into giving life just one more try. In that moment you not only see your physical self but begin the journey of self-assessment and vow to stop fighting yourself, let go, and change for the better. Well, I’ve certainly been there and can now clearly see why. There were parts of myself that needed to be altered or aborted while others needed to simply be accepted.
Behind a smile lied a spirit that needed release, redemption, and renewal. I was hurting and judging people because I wasn’t truly secure and happy with myself. I was running because I couldn’t accept life. I was anxious because I feared the future and depressed because I couldn’t rewrite the past. Moreover, I experienced self-loathing because the person I had become was not who I was put on this Earth to be and not someone I liked. I had wasted years chasing perfection and acceptance while creating the person I thought I wanted to be, instead of discovering purpose, peace and joy in the person I was destined to be.
The things that made me boring and weird to the world were the very things that made me unique, highly favored, and special to myself and the ones who truly mattered. I don’t belong with the egotistical, living the fast life, wearing designer clothes, or putting my money on a pedestal. Contrary to what I’ve been told, I don’t have to change myself, surround myself with certain groups, live in an overpriced neighborhood, or have a set amount of things to be happy or deemed successful. What's right for some isn't necessarily right for me. I am more than welcome to thrive in the country, conversing with my close knit group, while drinking lemonade and cuddling with my animals on the backyard swing. It’s okay to continually push myself to level up, buy all of my clothes discounted, and get an overwhelming amount of satisfaction from reading academic journals and writing articles. That’s who I am.
I create the definition of myself, beauty, and worth. No longer do I give other people, the past, prescriptions, possessions, or perception that power over me. I value privacy over posting, live in the moment, listen more, and find joy in simplicity. It may not be what others are used to but I know it’s right for me. Only God and I hold the brush in my life’s painting and I unapologetically accept that. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m supposed to serve and not be served and have faith that there is strength in my humility, favor in my failures, and a purpose for everything. It may have taken a while to get the picture, but now I’m grateful and revel in it daily.
Like art, life should be truly accepted and appreciated. It may not have always gone according to plan or even have the characteristics I envisioned, but there is always a captivating beauty attached to it because it is unlike any other. I'm not the person I once was and I see the blessing in that. No one thinks twice about a copy, because the true worth is always in the original.