When you’re working a full-time retail management job and trying to sustain creativity in your free time, it can be difficult to stop and smell the roses. It can be difficult to do anything in your off time besides lay on the couch like a petrified mummy. Not too long ago, I had all the time in the world to do exactly that – to contemplate, to plan, to nurture my studio practice. But I didn’t. I dragged my feet, knowing that there was always a tomorrow to continue working on my checklist. And I ended up never finishing, never starting anything really. I was treading water.
It was inevitable that I’d have to return to full-time work. I mean, the drawing thing just wasn’t happening (well, I wasn’t making it happen) and a girl has got to eat and support her caffeine slash shopping addiction. So here I am, struggling to keep up the energy to be positive and motivational for my team at work and baffled as to how I’m going to manage keeping up the pace in my independent pursuits. With the holidays here and in my face, all I want to do is eat and be merry. Can you blame me? I don’t want to keep holing myself up in my house, with my little paints, trying to produce pretty on paper (or bags). But if I stop now, then what? What comes next?
After spending the day pouring over websites and blogs about “how to sell your art” or “how to become an artist”, I feel very… uneasy. And really, I guess that was everyone’s point; becoming an artist is just not easy. There’s no formula for becoming successful and so you have to figure out what is going to work for you. Selling artwork, patterns, creativity in any form is always going to be difficult. I never said that I believed otherwise; there are just some days where I feel more confident than others. So I feel the need to fess up to the truth, the ever steady truth… that I just don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I will be doing. I don’t know how to get to where I want to be. This is ultimately what sums up my journey-into-adulthood experience. How’s yours going?
I haven’t been posting as much personal introspection on this blog as I used to especially because so many people in my life actually take the time to read it now (bffs, family, and coworkers alike). But I’m taking a risk here in order to stay genuine and let it all hang out in hopes that everyone – particularly those also my age – will understand that this is just a part of what it takes to get there. You know. There. Wherever there is, that place when all the pieces will start magically falling into place. Who knows when there will actually present itself.
Everyone’s journey to building a strong and healthy self-image is a unique one. Figuring out how to project that self-image is even more difficult; style is not just clothing or accessory, it is self-expression. Self declaration. We all go through times of confusion, struggle, and enlightenment, in order to figure all of that out. Today I’m excited to turn over the mic to my friend Victoria of The Not-So-Southern Belle, as she shares her own personal journey to a sense of style. She’s a saucy lil’ lady whose talent is as evident as her beauty and I’m so happy to have her words gracing these pages. So with no further ado…
When Christina so graciously asked me to contribute to Tide and Bloom, I was extremely flattered and said yes without hesitation. Then, I immediately went into a panic thinking what the hell am I going to write about? I’m no fashion/creative/lifestyle authority. But here’s the thing: I don’t have to be. I guess you could say I have my own sense of style, and I own it. That’s all that really matters, right?
I could sit here and say I’ve always had body confidence, that I’ve always known what works for me, that I’m just naturally stylish—but it would all be total bullshit. As the always-sort-of-chubby-yet-cute-girl growing up, I went through a lot of phases. Freshman and sophomore year of high school I wore a lot of t-shirts. My mother used to beg me not to buy yet another “stupid [insert Hollister, Abercrombie, etc.] t-shirt.” Something clicked junior year and I decided to expand beyond my comfort zone. Well, sort of. I have this very distinct memory of the first time I was really proud of any outfit I put together. I used to actually spend a lot of time doing my hair (now, I’m lucky if I even wash it more than twice a week), and I’d just figured out the whole ponytail-with-a pouf thing. I paired it with a red Viva La Bam (oh, the days I actually used to watch MTV) t-shirt, a mini-skirt and these killer white, sporty heels. Yes, I wore heels to high school; quite often, actually.
Now, it may not have been the most stylish thing to wear, but I loved that outfit and it showed. I got so many compliments that day. After that, I started having more fun just wearing whatever the hell I wanted. I think that’s the biggest thing: confidence.
The universe, in some sort of weirdly choreographed routine, has allowed me to spend days on end in bed with my computer, a sketchbook, and the remote control. To some, this sounds like a paradise. Nowhere to be, no one to see, nothing to do except be at peace with your thoughts and have the room to create. On the contrary, it’s led me to asking myself some important questions about my role. That’s right – you read right – my role. As a person, an artist, a blogger, you name it. After being removed from active participation in the world, I’m left wondering what is it I do for the world anyways. Like with any other dilemma I’ve had recently, the roads lead me back here to figure it all out.
I want to discuss the importance of preserving your own significance. It’s one of many in the myriad of mid-20s lessons everyone (particularly women) needs to learn, but I don’t think there is a formulaic solution. It’s a quiet conflict that happens within us and can bear greatness and determination as easily as it can surrender and settlement.
Sometimes I like to end the tiring work day with a movie; an escape from reality. A reminder of the poetic beauty in life we seem to forget in the day to day grind. Last night I decided I would pop in a childhood favorite, A Little Princess. Please tell me you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, it’s totally a must see (I’m serious) for every daughter, sister, mother, and best friend. I had been feeling stumped on what to write for this week’s linkup until I was reminded exactly why I loved this movie. The main character is sort of like the spirit guide or guardian angel that we all deserve to have whispering in our ears; her unconditional faith in the magic and beauty of the world is more poignant to me now than ever.
I fully realize the level of cheese I’m at when I’m spouting sonnets about how much I love this movie, but I’m just a sucker for films/books/anything that reminds me of the hope we all used to have when we were children. We believed we could be princesses, we could be artists, we could be anything we want if we just believed in it hard enough. Where does all that optimism go when it disappears? Does it transform into resignation and regret? Could it ever turn back into what it once was?
I’d like to think that it’s fate that my birthday this year falls on the same day as the Love Yourself Linkup. A lot has changed for me in this past year and so it’s crucial to fight the usual bouts of disappointment I typically associate with this annual event. I am officially closer to the age 30 than the age 20 and instead of feeling like my youth is slipping, I need to look at this birthday as one year closer to happiness.
The lure of admitting defeat gets stronger with passing time. As I begin to hear the biological clock ticking away, I often wonder how much longer I can keep this up before having to succumb to my greatest fears in order to sustain my hopes for a family. But as much as I’d like to fall in line with the crowd, I know that happiness is still out there. The yearning I have for it is more palpable than ever and as the desire for stability grows, so does my resistance to the currents of practical living.
How do you keep swimming when you have no idea what direction the shore is in? (Yes, I’m going to try to keep going with this ocean metaphor)… You just do. There is no answer other than what your basic survival instinct is telling you to do: keep your head above it all and continue searching.
I’m sad to say that I’ve been guilty of not writing to the fullest. And this is mainly because I haven’t been living to the fullest. With the pending move and the shape shifter that is known as my income, I’ve been happy to even keep my head above water. When going through times of change, decisions get that much more difficult to make given how much is riding on them. I know now that the decision I made to begin this blog was a landmark for my personal and professional growth, so continuing to move forward with it is just as important, if not more so. Despite feeling like I don’t have any beauty to give right now, it’s also important that I participate this week in the Choose Beauty Linkup – in order to remind myself that there has to be something left inside to push forward. There just HAS to be.
One of the obstacles I face every day (particularly lately because I’ve been on so many job interviews) is projecting the shiniest and best, most optimistic version of myself. I wear carefully curated outfits, I meticulously draw on my lipstick and my smile, I speak confidently about my erratic and yet fulfilling journey.
Right now I’m going through somewhat of a tough time. The instability that surrounds me feels like it will close in at any moment and I’ll crumble right along with it. And so in an attempt to try to be my own happiness, to be my own best friend, I am going to write a letter to myself (and hopefully it’ll resonate with you too).
You’re turning 26 soon and let me tell you: you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It may seem like everything’s been for naught, like everything feels like a waste of time. But I promise you that it is not. I promise you that you are going to make a difference to someone, somewhere… and soon. The things you create and the ways you love are limitless and there is no reason to keep that from the world.
Explaining your goal in life or work is never easy. There are all these things that people expect for you to say – to make the world a better place, to have an effect on people’s lives, to make money, et cetera. Of course those are all things I want to do, but that doesn’t really explain how I’d like to do it. I think my life is better summed up as an endless pursuit of beauty. I want to seek beauty, find beauty, and cultivate/create beauty within others and within myself. So when Natalie Borton began her Choose Beauty Linkup, I knew I had to get in on it. I’ve read such lovely and poignant stories being shared on Anne‘s Love Yourself Linkup so it was a no-brainer to join another network encouraging earnest reflections on personal stories and experiences. I may not be able to post every week on both linkups, but hopefully what I do get to share will be fulfilling for both me and you.
I’ve always thought of beauty as an outward journey, an active search or effort to bring more beauty unto me. Whether it is through clothes, make-up, decor, or whatever, the thing I thought I needed to find would always be out there somewhere. It was within the pages of the glossy magazines showing me who I could be if I just tried a little harder. It was in the stacks of history books in the art and architecture library. It was growing outside in the meadows and all around me. It can actually be overwhelming sometimes when I think about all the ways in which I see our beautiful world. And perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I see beauty so pervasively is because I often fail to see it within myself.
One of the biggest mental setbacks I have is the fear that I’m not as great as the people I admire and aspire to be like (artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc). Those beautiful creative professionals seem like they have everything together so effortlessly and they continue to surprise me with their ability to stay fresh, relevant, and inspirational. Despite knowing that they all had to start somewhere, I always find myself feeling so far behind with so much left to go. Why do I feel like I have to start big and so close to the end?
I keep forgetting that you don’t begin a success. You become a success.