Everyone’s favorite question for a child is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Everything when you’re a kid is about growing up. You’re supposed to pick a profession and dream about how to become a teacher, a firefighter, a lawyer, a doctor. Out loud I’d say whatever I thought made me sound most interesting that I could stomach the idea of, but none of them felt right. Inside my head or later that night in my room I would whisper to myself, Artist. I want to be an artist.
I once wrote it down on a piece of paper. My confession. I folded that paper up into a tiny square and hid it away. At seven years old some part of society had convinced me that being an artist wouldn’t be good enough. I was also seven and had trouble reconciling artist when anything other than drawing & painting which I did not do well.
As I got older my artistry (which I was scared to explore) pulsed in the back of my mind pushing against my drive to be something great. It was like I was trying to travel down two roads at once, trees in between so that I couldn’t see they were going the same direction. It tore me in two, the girl driven to be successful (whatever that meant) and the girl who just wanted to make beautiful things and connect the dots.
When I was born one of my mom’s best friends, a ballet instructor, held me and told my mom I was going to be a dancer. Circumstances what they were I didn’t dance (much) as a child. There was that one month of ballet in first grade– where I had a traumatic experience trying to figure out if the tights went under or over the leotard– and that time I ended up dancing in a ballet of the Labyrinth (yes that Labyrinth. I got to be a Fiery, and goblin, and a ballroom dancer). But I never got to dance until college.
Throughout my teenage years I dabbled with writing, finding it was one of the few ways I could express and communicate the things I saw. Photography let me show others what I saw. Though because I was so bent on doing something, on being successful and somehow those words could not be combined with artist, not for me, it took me years to slowly come to grips with who I was. That just maybe, these things that I did to survive were something that I could turn into success (whatever that is) and great things.
I only recently stopped fighting who I was, embracing the fact that I need to create, carve out time to make the things in my head come to life instead of letting consume my thoughts on repeat. If I don’t pay attention to them they haunt me, making me feel incomplete.
I’m an artist.
And that’s okay.
I connect the dots. And if I touch just one person with the things I do, then it’s been worth it.