I remember being about 6 or 7 years old, stating with enthusiasm to anyone who asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up...an artist!
As a child, I reveled in creating. I distinctly remember contracting chicken pox at age 5, but what devastated me most was missing kindergarten art class. I was thrilled when my teacher sent home a care package of construction paper shapes in various colors for me to paste together.
A few years later my Dad brought home an encyclopedia set containing information on everything from history to space exploration. I was obsessed with Volumes 3 (classic fairy tales) and 5 (art projects). In between reading fairy tales, I must have completed every art project imaginable. I couldn't get enough. I had no special talent, I just loved making things.
As I grew, my realization that I had no real artistic gifts pushed my creative side out.
Reflecting back, I let my social self take over. I cared way too much about what people thought.
Our social self is the part of us we develop in response to the pressures around us, the part of us that wants to fit in.
Our essential self is who we are at our soul level, at the core of our being. Our authentic self.
Interestingly enough, I am drawn to artists of all kinds. I even married a singer/songwriter.
Years ago when we lived in Chicago our group of friends consisted of musicians, actors, painters, sculptors, writers, and dancers. We continue to surround ourselves with artistic types and have seen lots of ups and downs in their careers over the years.
I have seen bands play to almost empty rooms. I have attended plays in small offbeat theatres with few patrons. I have been to art galleries that opened with little fanfare.
"Creativity take courage" ~ Henri Matisse
What do all these artists have in common? Their willingness to suck as long as they are doing what they love (and not one of them sucks). To put themselves out there and be vulnerable. To keep forging ahead and believing in themselves.
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." ~ Brene Brown
They weren't performing for the paycheck, although that was always much appreciated. They performed because it filled a need. It gave them joy.
The drive to create, to express themselves no matter what kind of criticism or lack of support they got, kept them going.
While I was busy worrying about my social self, they were all being true to their essential selves.
As I used to sit in my bland gray cubicle in the middle of corporate America in a job that made me miserable, I would daydream about how great it would be to have an artistic talent. To have the ability to create something and put it out there for the world to see.
I never thought to ask myself why I believed so strongly I had no talent, at all. Or what it even means to have talent. Or why I didn't even feel worthy enough to even try. If I didn't try how could I possibly know if it was true or not? I kept myself safe.
Even with a desire to want something more than my gray cube job, I still let my inner critic, my social self shut me down. "It's too late to make a change", I told myself.
After several more years, it finally clicked. To really find happiness and joy we have to be in alignment with our essential self, with our soul’s purpose. It’s never too late to create the changes needed to make it happen. Sometimes even the smallest steps can get us there.
So if you are wondering how to get in touch with your essential self, one path is through art!
Start with something that speaks to you, perhaps even something you loved doing as a child: journaling, writing, painting, pottery, sculpting, sewing, cooking, drawing, coloring...it doesn't really matter as long as it is something you enjoy. The point is to get quiet, to get into a meditative state while you are doing it so what is in you has a chance to be released. No one has to see what you produce. I can say for sure you just might surprise yourself.
See what thoughts come up.
I never, ever, ever saw myself writing a blog and actually publishing it, it was not something that was even remotely on my radar even a year ago.
So to all my artist friends, thank you for teaching me about what it means to show up in the world exactly as you are.
It may have taken me a long time to find my way back to my essential self, but the little 6 year old in me wants to come out and play. I am enjoying finding my voice and putting it out there, little by little.
After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” ~ Pablo Picasso
If you feel out of alignment with your essential self, I would love to help you. Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.