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Your Mental Health is Important. Your Art Isn't Just a Hobby. It's a Passion. // On Art, Social Validation, and Creation

28 October 2017

Your Art Isn't Just a Hobby. It's a Passion. // On Art, Social Validation, & Creation

One of the most irksome comments arising in conversations regarding art is someone's easy dismissal of my writing as "just a hobby," and I'm sure many artists who aspire to make a career out of it, whether in film or painting or whatever medium used, have encountered this at one time or another. There's a sense of belittlement and tinged awkwardness behind their expressions staring back, yet all one can do is nod politely and continue on.

It's frustrating to encounter these kinds of comments for one reason: it derives a person's artistic ability and presuming there isn't any way to become successful. Yes, the art world is known for it's plethora of individuals trying to make a name for themselves and make a living out of their work. Outside the art sphere, an even greater populace looks down condescendingly, thinking artists, the "doomed and starving," don't contribute anything to society, which is a red flag.

Art provides light, insight, imagination, perspective, causing those who immerse themselves into it to have a better understanding. Art transcends into tangible silk with numerous facets. Art is traversal, subversive, and visceral, getting voices out there who feel the need to express it when they can't vocally do it themselves.

Most importantly, art is whatever a person wants it to be.

The thoughts kept resonating in my head as my family and I drove back from The Homey Boardwalk Town and the future of senior year laid impending on my shoulders. The greater fear of life after high school just paralyzes me. Now, I know for some bloggers, their parents allow them to live with them right after graduating high school to pursue their passions, and they are incredibly lucky to have that chance. For numerous reasons I can't elaborate on, it's not an option for me. My parents did give me a choice to support me in my future writing endeavors including potentially studying it somewhat in at the post-secondary level as long as I have a job that would help sustain me.

Does this mean I'm giving up my dreams as a successful published author? Not at all. I do understand where my parents do come from and how much of a struggle it was to move over here as a first generation Filipino-American where back where my place of birth had only a fourth of the opportunities I have here, and I am going to study something I'm incredibly passionate about doing. Going this route doesn't mean I'm giving up on my dreams. Going to university to major in something that isn't writing based doesn't make me less of a writer.

On that same token, just because someone is ahead of you in the art world, bulked up by accolades and publishing deals, does not mean that you are any less of an artist capable of success. I have writing friends who have won competitions and have been endowed some of the highest levels of national awards there is for those under eighteen, whereas I've only been acknowledged for a couple awards at the regional level. Of course, they started much before I did be regardless, the lack of success now does not define that I stink. Comparison is an ugly poison, dear friend. Over the years I've learned focusing on one's own progress instead of comparison, however tempting it may be to succumb to its clutches, help make tremendous bounds in spirit and progress.

The key to success isn't a MFA in Creative Writing, or becoming a Poet Laureate, my friends, but passion. Passion is the key to all things: to dreams, to relationships (both platonic and otherwise), the drive towards success despite the hardships enveloping when all you want to do is lay in your bed and weep. There are days when the winds howl salt scalding into open wounds and all a person can hear are painful howls coming from their mouth, days when the darkness takes toll and convinces this dream won't be fulfilled. The art world is a hard business, friend. It's one of the most brutal because it takes something so dear to one's heart and opens it up for all the world to see and people may not like it.

So keep going. Keep creating. Keep smiling and laughing and crying and feeling. Keep going during this NaNoWriMo, during this time of college applications. Our passions are the most draining things, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, but like the feeling of satisfaction that rolls over in the end, it's always worth it.

Have you had similar thoughts? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Also, sign up for the Blogger Yearbook! Submissions are due by November 16th!

14 October 2017

Your Mental Health is Important.

Your mental health is important. Reiterating these words may appear pointless to some, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Your mental health is important.

These past several weeks: headaches throbbing due to the lack of water. Quiet coffee shop sessions featuring two introverts trying to start a conversation turned awkward. Four days in a row eating dinner skimpily. Lunches spent in solidarity without the company of friends. There are days I’d wake up feigning away exhaustion heavy as the feeling in my chest and just want the days to end as early as they’ve started. And yes, I’ve broke down crying multiple times. All I’ve been holding on to are the sparse moments with friends, snippets of volunteering and slam poetry and just laughing and crying and going through this perpetuating cycle.

Today, my footing has stepped into place. My college applications have been reigned in, I sent in scholarships, and perhaps I’m understanding what’s been going on in one of my toughest classes these past several weeks. I’ve talked to people fervently and visited friends, refracting different colors. My expressions are bright and iridescent so everyone can see the struggles. Here are reminders that’s good to be reminded every once in a while:

// It’s okay to say everything is not okay. Society tells us to dictate, to “suck it up, buttercup. Bottle it up.” I am telling you right now, this may be a great solution short term, but keeping your problems inhibited and not acknowledging them may make things worse. You have the choice of knowing what defines you, and what is weighing you down right now, know this does not. You have that choice. Let the armor fall, allow your skin to touch the air, however harsh it may be. Wrap yourself up in warm blankets fresh out of the dryer and just feel comfortable. Let go of the baggage. Go contact a friend or mentor and just hash out everything with them. 

// With that said, it’s okay to cry.I won’t rehash out this out, but if you’d like to hear my thoughts on the subject, there’s a post about it in the archives.

// There is no shame in having to drop events or itinerary to-dos. Come back and work at full capacity when you’re ready to do so. Doing things without your full best effort, while laudable, isn’t the best. In fact, just let all expectations go and just move through life allowing wiggle room to be surprised / shocked / out-of-schedule.

// Know that you are entitled to having free days to just relax. For me, those days consist of going out by myself to places with a lot of people, just basking in all of the chatter around me, and bringing something rejuvenating for me to do. That may be simple as visiting a book store or going out and walking around the woods, marveling at the leaves. Again, another post here.

// Lastly, take care of yourself. This is you. You may be fifteen or twenty, or perhaps an adult approaching their middle years. Maybe you’re even eight, but know this: you have only one body and one mind in this life, so take care of it. Don’t let stress overrun you. Drink water. Sleep well.

Perhaps a few may be tired about the same sayings coming out from my mouth, but they are universal. Struggles will always come around. I want to be real about the things that I go through. My classes may say ups equal the downs, and they’re right.

To days to be good to yourself.