Something changed in me. I used to fear the worse, dread the inevitable, shake my head and swear on a daily basis that my craziness was going to be the death of me. I’d look in private at my journals and drawings, which more often than resulted in my sinking feelings. There was too much competition, I’d think. Everyone else is so talented, what on earth is going to make me stand out? How can I even call myself an artist when my pencil marks are showing and I can’t draw a human face to save my life? How can I put that label on myself if I’m so unsure? I tore myself down, thought up two bad things for every good, drowned occasionally in my anxiety and pulled myself out struggling. And I can’t say what changed. Maybe it’s that I’m graduating, or had a recent life turnaround, or maybe I’m just growing up. Maybe it’s because I stopped taking all those pills I thought I needed. But suddenly, the world is clearer. I feel better. I’ve never felt so pleased with myself. I find myself looking through my portfolios or my drawing books and smiling. I want to show people! The other night my roommate and I had his friends over for a night of movies and drinks, and I found myself pulling out portraits I’ve drawn, pointing to my photos on the fridge, and beaming like my own proud parent. Maybe that’s it: now that my parents and I are no longer inextricable, I’ve finally figured out how to be proud for myself. I don’t want to have a big ego, or to annoy the people around me by gushing about myself, but I don’t want to apologize for my inadequacies, either. Those days are over. I like my pencil marks! Why on earth was I apologizing in the first place?
Some days I feel like a floodgate’s been opened in my mind and the creative ideas are overflowing. Those days are good. But there are also the days that nothing comes to me; my creativity has taken a leave of absence. My old self would have wallowed on those days, thought, “this is it, it’s gone forever, I’ve got to rearrange myself and swallow everything.” My newer self can deal with it. I’ve been really off and on lately- it feels like I’m all or nothing. And those days when it’s nothing? Well, I’m kissing my little creative elf goodbye in the morning, sending her off to school with a packed lunch and thinking, “I’ll see her this evening.” And weirdly, it’s been true. When I just accept that today isn’t my day and my drawings look uninspired or my texts are contrived, I settle into something else and wait for her to come back. She always does.