I wrote something exceptionally raw earlier this year. It was a beautifully strange experience and I sent it to one friend, my lover and my parents. I could not share it with anyone else. It was filled with too much anxiety, ranting and I was too vulnerable to bleed out for the world to see.
But it sparked an incredible change within myself and in my art and I am now ready to open up about it with true peace in my heart. This is who I am and I will not be ashamed.
Life is not always rainbows and butterflies and I am learning to accept and celebrate both the good and the bad.
At least I am trying. Growing.
I woke up this morning, sick, tired, yet another sleepless night and read poetry for a caption to post yet another thing on social media to maintain that following that is the life force of my business, my income, my art and I felt empty. Gone are my inspiration, my drive, and my urgency to always do more, create more, and be more. When I finally achieved my goal to do less, live simpler, quieter, have more time to just relax – I fell flat. The anxiety of my nine to five existence gone. All those years working until the early hours of the morning, weekends, always pushing harder, further than my body and creativity should go, have come to an end.
I have been flat, lying in bed reading my life away waiting for that creativity to spark again, that urgent need for it, the all-consuming yearning.
And then it flared in one poem.
One poem that I stumbled upon while looking for yet another caption for yet another post on social media. Would people like it? Should I care? Where is the line between being relatable and being your true self?
In art you need to sell. It is as simple as that. I will never choose to be homeless. I have dreams for a comfortable life where I don’t worry where my next meal will come from. I was not raised in riches and have nothing to fall back on. That drives my urgency, my success, my ambition, my inspiration.
But it has been missing.
And then I found this poem and the words poured out of me and I had to get in front of my computer so that they might find life on paper. Sitting here in my PJ’s thirsty but too afraid to stop writing long enough to fetch water because it might slip away from me again. I need to hold on to it and let it pour out. Sitting here worried that I have deadlines today that needs my attention but I need to hold on to this thing, this inspiration, this truth that is pouring out.
Is this what I have been waiting for?
is not about how many people
like your work
if your heart likes your work
if your soul likes your work
it’s about how honest
you are with yourself
– Rupi Kaur
So what is in my heart?
The only self worth I have ever felt was tied to my achievements. And my goodness have I been an over achiever since I was too young to remember the details. I have never felt worthy of love or true friendship.
Never good enough, never funny enough, never smart enough, never pretty enough, never skinny enough, never stylish enough.
And here I am at twenty-eight still looking to others for their approval and I am empty. Here I am with a broken heart cut into pieces over the years by friends and lovers that I gave the power to make me feel inferior. I allowed them to treat me horrifically and kept quiet all for the sake of peace and no confrontation. I turned the other cheek. I let them do this. I gave them that power. My power. So much so that I often find myself awake at night wondering if it is me, am I the terrible person, how can I change, how can I please them, am I not worthy of true friendship, of human mistakes, of flaws.
What is happiness?
Is it a successful career, a beautiful group of friends, a loving partner, and a loving family?
What is happiness if there is no love of self?
“are you happy?” is such a difficult question
I always say yes, because I have friends
I laugh at jokes, I go out a lot and have fun
my life isn’t as bad as it could be, and I don’t
have terrible problems, it could be worse.
but then, one night at 3AM when I’m alone
still awake, lying in bed, thinking about life
I find myself crying my heart out
suddenly convinced that nobody likes me, or
nobody will ever like me. I feel horrible
and I question everything I had
and I don’t know if I was ever happy at all.
I have consistently been told that I am too much. I feel too much; I am too sensitive; and I am too emotional. So I hold back. I don’t show the world my entire being and in truth you have no right to know everything about me if it has not been earned. Then I am perceived as cold, fake, withdrawn, uptight, untouchable, undatable, an ice queen or a liar.
How is it that someone can be so selfish that they harm you and then play the victim to the point where you start doubting yourself?
Why don’t I just say what I mean? Why don’t I call people out when they hurt me, devastate me? Is it to avoid confrontation, to avoid showing my vulnerable side? Is it to keep the peace and act cool even though I am screaming inside?
Am I ashamed of my feelings?
Do I perhaps hide them to avoid anyone knowing how sensitive and breakable I am? Is it because I fear that my feelings are wrong, that I am not supposed to feel this way and that others in my situation would not care. Why do I care so much? How do I stop?
Maybe I am weak. Maybe it is strength. Maybe I am hiding. Maybe the world has convinced me that I am less and should conform to the needs and expectations of others.
But it is undoubtedly me, not them.
Only I have power over my own feelings and I need to start owning it.
I want to create something for me. Something that makes me feel. Something completely unplanned. No fancy words to explain it but just pour my heart out onto a page and see where it takes me. It will never be exhibited. It will never sell. It will never be published. Even if I am the only one who will ever like it, I want to feel it.
I want to create without the fear of not being liked. And perhaps then I will find my true inspiration again. Perhaps not. To dust off the cobwebs of my aching heart and just allow it to shine fully. To feel fully: the loss, the sacrifices, the pain, the hurt, the unfathomable joy, the love.
To feel my genuine self for the first time in a while through my art and to share it without giving a damn about what anyone thinks. This is for me. I am worth it. I am wonderfully flawed and beautiful.
You cannot break me.
I played my favourite song loudly on repeat and danced until the artwork came to me and I just let it shape into something exceptional using intricate lines of ink on paper.
I felt it every step of the way and it is one of my favourite pieces purely for the sake of it being real, honest and
Be bold. Be brave. Be your damn self.
There is no one like you and you are exquisite.
Words + Artwork by Maria Magdalena Atelier