I want to write on something a bit different today. The Love Yourself Linkup has been a great way to explore ideas and personal stories on self-image, but for this post I would like to focus on something we tend to forget about until it’s corrupted – the value of our professional work. It’s a different kind of self-love that’s not often given attention due to cultural norms in the American workforce. When I say value, I mean in it a variety of senses: monetarily, creatively, metaphorically. As young professionals in a depression era, we’re unfortunately subject to a skewed value system in which the unemployed abound and the employed tread lightly for fear of losing their coveted positions, even if they’re really not so great. Too often we let our desire to be liked dictate the course of action we take when wanting to take a stand for our worth.
I wanted to speak on this topic because I have way too many talented friends and colleagues who are being taken advantage of, without them even knowing it. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced it firsthand as well. It’s become so evident to me recently because I’m a mid-20-something meaning all of the people I socialize with are going through a similar professional crossroads. You usually begin at the bottom of the totem pole after you graduate college. I graduated 2010 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, entering the workforce at probably the worst time to have such a degree. And so the imposed societal instinct is to suck it up and take what you can get, if you can get anything at all. Prove yourself worthy, exceed their expectations, and stay quiet. While I still believe this sort of work ethic is important, it also underscores the rip current that takes you further and further away from reaching the status and value you actually deserve.
Please find the courage within to fight for what you are worth.
There are honestly so many negative thoughts running through my head right now that I feel like I can’t even type fast enough to get them out in a clear manner. I just spent the last hour driving home from an extras gig, bawling the entire way. I didn’t want to bother any of my best friends with a random whiny phone call so I just allowed myself to jump into a pit of sorrow and self-pity. I simultaneously love and hate that I feel so strongly about my journey. Right now the only word I can use to describe it is lost. I feel so, so, so lost. All of the time. Well, maybe not ALL of the time. But it certainly feels like it right now, as more tears roll down my cheeks.
Important note: if you are a real life friend or family member of mine – never mention anything about this post to me in real life. For the sake of my pride, I’d like to pretend that I still have a shred of anonymity and dignity when it comes to this blog. The reason why I write it here and cannot discuss it in real life is because I just can’t bring myself to let you see me this way.
There are way too many effin cute neighborhoods in Atlanta. It’s wonderfully overwhelming and keeps me feeling alive to discover all the little gems scattered inside the perimeter. A recent Saturday took me to East Lake in search of Thread Count, a unique vendor’s market focused on raising awareness for local craftsmanship, sustainability, and design. In other words, it pretty much had my name written all over it plus there was no cover charge at all. I expected the typical Atlanta craft market experience where you come, covet, eat, and leave. Little did I know that East Lake’s neighborhood would charm the pants off of me. Why?… Just look.
On the way to Thread Count, Ben and I stumbled upon the East Lake Urban Farm. Due to our impending move to a duplex unit with a backyard begging for a garden, I’ve recently become obsessed with nurseries, farms, and vegetable gardens. Perhaps it’s the farm to table trend seeping into my blood. Perhaps it’s my desire to save money. Either way – it’s a healthy new interest and I’m looking forward to what I might be able to pull up from the earth with my own two hands. In the meantime, I’ll just keep ogling cute places like this.
The event was held in the East Lake Community Garden which is filled rows of blooming vegetables and a den of weed-eating goats (even little ones). Though there weren’t many vendors in total, each one was dripping with a genuine desire to share the love of their craft. Not to mention there was also free beer from New Belgium. Did I mention that I like stuff that’s free?
I met a number of darling artisans who were just beginning their creative journey. Like KJo – audiologist by day and jewelry maker by night! She scavenges for vintage items and reclaims them into sweet little pieces to wear. Her display felt like the awesome attic of an eccentric aunt who has a taste for the feminine along with the slightly strange.
And Rachael of Neva Opet, who hand-crafts elegant leather accessories. She’s an absolute doll and more on her later!
Do you need any more convincing to go see East Lake for yourself? Just a little drive around the neighborhood will do you a world of good, but a visit to the garden and farm will be enough to make you want to plant your own roots here.
Catch-up dinners with close friends are a wonderful thing. Sometimes they are just casual and fun and other times they become some of the most inspiring and motivational conversations you’ll ever have. Last night I had one of the latter kind with a friend who’s known me since the beginning of college. She’s seen me be everything from ridiculous to amazing and seems to always understand the beauty in the things I do. Pretty priceless, huh? We got into a discussion over our current states of restlessness, almost drowning in our desire to make our dreams manifest into reality. She read aloud to me Linda Holmes’ article on NPR, Hey Kid: Thoughts for the Young Oddballs We Need So Badly. I highly suggest you read the entire thing, but here are a few of my favorite parts.
The fact that nobody is doing what you imagine doing is the beginning of your idea, not the end. People want to read things that haven’t been written, see things that haven’t been made, and hear things that don’t yet exist. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see yourself reflected in what’s being shown to you, let alone what’s being heavily marketed to you.
Everything worthwhile has a strong feeling in it, which means if you’re going to make great stuff, you’re going to have strong feelings. This is part of why people associate artistic types with moody outbursts or temper tantrums or lying around saying, “Oh life!” And it’s sort of true.
Out here, we are already waiting for you. We are already anxious for you. Out here, we want to see your stuff. Don’t get me wrong — some of us will disappoint, reject, confuse, misunderstand, mislead, or even exploit you. (Not the good ones of us on those last couple. But some.) But we want to see your stuff. Keep going.
UGH. That is SO good right? Of course after reading it, I’m thinking “I wish I had written that,” but more importantly I wish I had read that when I was younger. The world is prime for our individuality to shine if we allow it to. If we believe in our original thoughts/ideas/creations and put them out there and exercise them, who knows what will happen. And the beauty is in our possibility, our potential. We – meaning I – need to stop trying to arrange ourselves to be reflections of icons of success or cultural importance and instead place priority on becoming a genuine and unfiltered reflection of the inner creator.
I’m usually spouting one-liners or quoting inspirational pins about how to chase after and believe in your creativity. While I fully stand behind all of that motivational media, I sometimes forget that creativity permeates everything and dreams do not solely entail artistic pursuits. Thankfully I was reminded when I read this blog post by Lisa Jakub. She cites a Thought Catalog article on “drones” versus “dreamers” and shares her distaste for the negative connotation often given to more traditional 9-to-5ers in the world. The dictionary definition of a dream is a strongly desired goal or purpose. There are no other parameters, no right or wrong, and no mention of any social norms. All that matters is the instinctual feeling of wanting a certain life for yourself.
I’ve lived most of my life on the fence between my creative self and my intellectual self. The latter was of course always touted as the more likely moneymaker of the two, yet here I am slowly dragging my feet through the mud of being artist. While this is a valid and worthwhile choice, I cannot pretend that I am above or any more enlightened than others who would have chosen the other way. If I had desired to become a doctor or if I had desired to major in technology, I would have done it to the best of my ability and that would have been just as admirable as what I am doing now.
While I’m always gushing over other traditionally “creative” individuals – artisans, choreographers, designers, chefs, etc – today (and hopefully moving forward as well) I would like to congratulate those who pursue the dreams that are not so directly related to my own. To the doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, teachers, and everything in-between: I appreciate your dreams more than I can ever say. It is your creativity within your chosen profession that keeps the world functioning, growing, evolving. Your mark, while it might not a visual one done by hand, is a thing of beauty as well.
So if you enjoy what you’re doing, if you are living out your desires… keep doing that, whatever it may be. Have faith in the value of your dreams and allow that to be your guide. (Now it’s time for me to peace out because I’m getting cheeezy).
[ image via tumblr ]
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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.
I’ve lived in Atlanta for about three years now so you can imagine how many art festivals and markets I’ve been to. After a while, everything starts to look the same to me. Not in a bad way – just in the fact that I’ve seen all the local vendors already. Thankfully, I was recently and pleasantly proven wrong when I stumbled upon MDC Interiors at ARTlantis.
In their sweet and humble booth full of tiny treasures, I met the warm and ever-so-lovely Mona Patel. She and her partner, Mike, began MDC Interiors to craft custom objects that are visually striking as well as beneficial for the environment. While I didn’t get to see their furniture pieces (due to the limited amount of space), I absolutely fell in love
Now that I’m an “adult”, I no longer have school assignments leading my art practice. This is liberating and terrifying. Without any limits, how do you chose to represent yourself? Wait, I’m wrong. There are definitely limits – the limits of self-doubt, financial resources, physical space, mentor support. I’ve been slowly and painstakingly inching towards finding imagery from within. While I could very easily just draw from life (and sometimes I do), my true self is only revealed in abstract gestures. What you see here is a small series from my sketchbook that I’ve titled “Lock”. They’re all 14 x 11 inches and done in Micron pen.
I envisioned these in my mind laying in bed one night, thinking about how to distill my mark to a pure form. They end up looking a lot like feathers or hair (hence the series title) and I love – yes, I love – how delicate they ended up. The movement in each line is subtle and sometimes strained, but always organic. It’s really difficult to take accurate pictures of my drawings, but I edited them to the best of my ability.
I decided to share this series as a part of the Love Yourself Linkup because the act of exposing my drawings is an act of self-love. It takes everything in me to be proud of myself. If you know me in real life then you know how ridiculously true this is. I’m terribly self-conscious about speaking about my work or showing my work – even more so if you’re my friend or loved one. So here I am, allowing myself to receive whatever reaction may come… including praise.
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Every few weeks I tend to experience an identity crisis. I have the awful plague of being a creative and ambitious individual which means nothing is ever good enough, including myself. In order to pull myself out of this hopeless hole, I have to do something that will lead me back to remembering who I really am. Sometimes it’s rambling on to my boyfriend about how I’m too far behind to do anything worthwhile in my life, to which he usually responds with reassuring words about how everyone loves everything I do. Other times it’s chatting with best friends who usually tell me how much they admire my strength and courage.
Today it happens to be that I’m reminded of who I am by my birth date. Everyone loves reading descriptions of themselves and their potential futures, in hopes that their own self-image and desired goals will be confirmed as what destiny had intended for them. While I do believe that we are in control of our own lives, I also think you can’t get anywhere without knowing thyself.