"What are you willing to go unrestrained for in your art?" she asked me. "What's keeping you from really tapping into and unleashing your creativity, your artistic voice?"
I drew in a sharp breath and exhaled slowly. I knew the answer(s). They've been tugging at me and begging me to give in for months now. A year, really.
Be unstructured, they beg me as I fight to fit and tailor myself to what isn't meant for me.
Let go, they urge as I fight to maintain control. I'm not good at yielding. Survival mechanism.
Trust, they encourage as fear presses my toes into the edge and screams "BUT WHAT IF THEY DON'T APPROVE...UNDERSTAND...ACCEPT...SUPPORT...LOVE...YOU" in my ear.
You're overthinking it, just be, they admonish.
Follow me, the Muse beckons. Pursue me.
I want to, I whisper back. But...
I hold too tightly to the need for approval and acceptance, to be understood, to be valued, liked, loved. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest (pesky birth order). As much as I've worked through it in therapy, I have to say the effects of rejection, verbal abuse and neglect from my father still linger; choking, throttling, and gutting my words and paint. I haven't spoken with him since I was 17, but his criticism still plays on a loop in my head as background noise...as does the policing and disapproval from family and friends over the ways in which I choose to be expressive, to be vocal, to simply be myself.
Unrestrained? I'd like to be. But first I have to let go of the fears and insecurities stifling me. Lord knows I'm trying. What if I did? The potential answer terrifies me just as much as the attempt.
"The greatest majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life preserver which sinks them."
- Henry Miller
What would our words, visual art, ideas, dreams, living and other forms of creative expression look like if we ditched our life preservers?
Here's to kicking fear in the throat and finding out.