This is my hand; take a look at my cards. I thought this post was going to be about self-portraits and fear, but that feels tired and not right, because although I did all of that this week because I want to be included in my story (thanks to Ali Edwards for that nudge), that isn't what feels the most real and scary to me right now. If I am going to be in my story, I am going to have to live in it as honestly and vulnerably as possible in it, because that's where the best and the worst of it is.
Lately I've been making and sharing more than ever, and the feedback I've been getting has been so good and kind and heartfelt that my exhausted heart grew three sizes and it was so easy to keep going, to feel like I was on the right track. This week, in the swirl of a challenging work week and tough news about my mother's health, I received two pieces of more critical feedback on the work I've been sharing, and then shortly after I lost a few followers on Instagram - people I know and like (not the same people with the feedback, but stick with me), and in the swirl of emotions I thought the following irrational things:
- all these doodles are silly and I am taking something small and trying to make it something it's not
- there are so many amazing artists out there, who needs one more? I should just support them
- I am sharing too much and people are growing weary with so much of me (who do I think I am?)
And then, of course, I grew more upset with myself for these thoughts, for caring about a few rough comments or a few followers (first world problems, anyone?) that I think my own internal frustration might have been worse than what triggered it. I expect more and better from myself, and I didn't bring it.
Whoa, that was a bit embarrassing to share, but here's the thing, I wrote earlier this week that I don't want to be someone who plays it cool when great things happen, and well, I also don't want to be someone who can't just be honest when something sucked a little. I want to be able to tell you that although I am not proud of it, the harsh words made me question more than I should have, and the loss of the followers, though I almost never look at that count and noticed it by a sad fluke that caused unnecessary awareness, well, that wasn't fun either.
And I can rationalize every bit of this away, and I can tell you that numbers don't matter, and those few unkind words don't matter, and that I, of course, am just fine, because, of course, I am, but that wouldn't be my whole story, and if I am going to be in it, it needs to be more than just my face. If I am going to be in my story, it's going to take my head and my heart; it's going to take the whole darn thing.
I want to be the kind of person who rolls all of this off like someone else's dust I have no more time for, and I want to be the kind of person who tells you I've never looked at any counts or lists (of who's following, who likes things, who comments, who shares), and I would like to be the kind of person who doesn't have to write a whole post about the less attractive side of all that making and sharing I've been blathering on about lately, but I am not, at least not yet, that kind of person. I am, however, someone who is flawed and honest, an amalgamation of serious and silly, clean and cluttered, tough and tender, and that's okay.
The good outweighs the bad, and I think the answer is always as simple as this: make more. The only way to move past the voices that question and quarrel is to move past them. To move. To make. To share. To be open and ready for whatever comes back. To be thankful for the good and thankful for the bad. To be honest when it hurts but not to be so self-involved to believe it is a reason to stop. Make more.
So, this is me:
And these are some of the things I made this week: