When I was sixteen I became increasingly confident in my aesthetic choices and inclinations; what I liked looking at, listening to and reading. There was a clarity of self that I was proud of and found essential to the artistic work that I did or planned on doing. There was a peace and a confidence I enjoyed relentlessly and even bragged about (mostly to myself, may I note). When I turned 21 I realized how much of this pristine view I had lost. And, in a way, how much of myself I had lost, too. For a while I judged myself on my losing this innate part of me, which I felt aided me in everything I created. I have since begun the long and painful process of mourning this loss and accepting it as a blessing. Embracing the fact that I don't have to subscribe to a specific aesthetic which may have once defined me but no longer does is in a sense an aesthetic choice in itself. I have begun accepting I don't have to subscribe to an artistic path like I don't subscribe to a specific religion, sexual orientation or even gender identity. The freedom that comes with this realization and embrace is difficult and painful, despite the fact that I do believe it is a form of freedom.
This year has been a struggle in countless ways, and in ways that I find difficult to put into words. My mental health has been at its most strained as has been my love for what I do. I constantly have to remind myself that from struggle often stem the most beautiful and rewarding experiences, even art. I remind myself that pain is power and knowledge, and that identity struggle is a part of human life. And yet. And yet I keep thinking of eighteen year old me, secure in her ability even in times of stress; her will to go on because her vision is bound to be realized. I think of her and I think of me and the disconnect is so evident that I don't know how I will ever reach a point of security and love like that again. And I know what I should be thinking, how I should be reacting to change. I should be and in a way am proud of who I'm becoming and the path that I'm taking on. But the insecurity that comes in creating work that isn't a full representation of what I want to be or living a life full of anxieties I have no control over is exhausting at best and threatening at worst.
Here's to completing a full circle, jumping down and reaching the floor bloody and filled with scars but alive. Here's to future me waking up and living and continuing on making the world around me feel like it could be mine. Here's to me wrapping my wounds in the scraps that surrounding me and climbing back up towards the light. Here's to life.