I don’t cry a lot (a complete lie), but the last time someone made me cry it was over the stupidest thing ever. A question.
Yes, my friend, a question. An innocent one too.
I was always the type to be in my own world- experimenting, dreaming (the nice way of saying plotting), and overall just living in my own bubble. But I always wanted to do more, so in 2019 I finally mustered the courage to start seriously sharing the art I’m making. This shift had many consequences I did not foresee.
When you put yourself (or work) out there, you must accept that the world that was previously your own will be thrown into an open field, open to any interpretation or measurement (or lack of it). The people around you will ask you questions and throw unwarranted comments/judgement. It felt as if my world was being peaked into, tugged, moved around without my consent. It’s like someone walking into your home and asking, “why did you hang this here?” “Why did you buy this?” Or even worse- looking at a room you spent years working on, and staying completely silent.
That’s the best way I could describe how frustrating it is to hear the question “how much.” “How much views?” “how much followers?” “how much likes?”
“How much” was never how I define my work while I was making it, so how could someone (who wasn’t even apart of the process) do this? How can you just take my things and tell me that’s how I should see myself? It really made me cry out of frustration, how is this even legal?
But the undeniable fact is, that we live in a world that is dictated by numbers. Society will value you more if you have more followers, more money, better looks. It’s hard to measure something like morals, integrity, how kind you are. Theres no numbers for those things.
And I’m not gonna lie, there were many moments where I succumbed to their definition of success and started to measure myself solely on the numbers. I’ve had moments where I wondered what I should adjust about myself to what people would like, rather than doing the things that resonated with me, and letting it happen organically. I’m so ashamed, I feel like I betrayed my art 🙁 and that wasn’t anyones fault but my own. I had to really catch myself and remember how joyful the world I made is, and how fun it is to just be myself. She’s really so cute and carefree I love her.
And on a more personal note, (this is so sad prepare) my art right now is something I use to help me to get through life, and especially school. I know I mention this often, but my degree has been such a challenge for me and it means a lot to my future, it gets disheartening when I reach roadblocks or failures. When people start to view my art in the same light as my school it’s heart-shattering, this is my escape— stop trying to measure it all the time!!!! Omg. I feel like everywhere we go we are measured, if it’s not a grade, then it’s our weight, if it’s not our weight then it’s our age, or how much kids we have, what tax bracket we are in, like can I live?
Putting my foot down
In the world that I created for myself there is no measurement, I am free and alive and I do as I wish, I do not live for anyone but myself. When it comes to my art I will always be free. If people enjoy it, that’s cool, but that is not the purpose of its existence. The only thing I work towards is perfecting it in its quality.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to be the greatest at what I do (and I will be) but it is not the end all be all of my life. I decide each factor that determines my greatness. I pick the things I decide to chase. I don’t care how much the world rewards others, I will always value honesty over followers, I don’t care how your body looks, I appreciate the substance of your speech 10000x more. If you are able to remain yourself and hold onto your core values despite being tugged by society, social media, or career, that is beauty to me. I will always reject the world’s definition of success, even on the days I do fit in it (I am not Bernard lol). Trust me, my friend, there is no ladder to climb, or approval to gain, as much as the people around us insist that there is.
By focusing on my own definitions, life becomes more clear, calmer, and relaxing. I am not being tugged from every angle anymore, or allowing my art to be sized by other people. Creating my own definition of success is like putting yellow tape around the furniture in my house, putting my favourite pieces in glass boxes, so when people come by I can protect the things that matter to me.