Art Is About Truth
my heart is broken, and i'm finally giving myself permission to write about it. (#1000wordsofsummer day 5)
this one is dedicated to everyone who’s ever been left behind. who had their hearts ripped open in conversation, or lack thereof. who read books on self love and self help, yet can't help but wonder, "what is wrong with me? why won't they stay?
... why do i drive everyone away?"
i've always been made to feel like i was too much. too loud, too bossy, too proud, too honest. i curse. i stumble. i say all the wrong things, at all the wrong times. over the years, i learned that my expression was my curse. not everyone can take what i have to say. i learned to hold back, to self-censor. to play it small. and bit by bit, little by little, i lost my voice. i lost my vision. i lost myself.
since April, i have been on a journey of finding my way back to myself. to the deepest, truest, most authentic expression of me. i am re-discovering what it means to be Creative, what it means to make Art. when i think of those words, images of paint-splattered mavericks come to mind – but i'm learning it is so much more than that.
as Humans, everything we do is creative. yes, even boring things like doing our taxes or going to the gym. we are creating every single moment of our lives: our energy, our experiences, our relationships. everything we put out into the world – from a sigh, to a social media post – is creation. (but of course, not all of it is generative.)
it's been 70 days since i embarked on this 100-day creative challenge, and i've made all kinds of things. photos, music, essays, carousels, Reels, podcasts. i've had conversations with friends; taken a walk outdoors almost every single day. tried new things: portraits with Procreate, taken a solo trip, started writing 1,000 words a day. and after creating 70+ pieces of Art – things that would. not. have. existed had i not started this challenge (🥲!!) – there is one thing i've learned to be true:
Art is about Truth.
it's about revealing a part of yourself that's raw, tender; that feels like a risk to put out there – but sharing it will feel like an exhale. when we express ourselves with candor, authenticity, and vulnerability, we hold a Mirror up to the world. we say: "this is true for me; is it true for you, too?". and we give other people permission to say, "yes. yes." and together, we stop feeling so alone.
one of my all-time favorite things that i've created is this Reel. i conceptualized it on one of my morning walks: strung the footage together, and recorded myself reading what i'd written into a mic. i found the most perfect song – "Spring Is Coming" by Austin Farwell – that suited the mood perfectly. even better, it matched the metaphor i was using for hope: Spring. it’s one of the most tender, vulnerable things i'd ever created. i keep coming back to it, because through this one small radical act of honesty – i was free.
i never fully understood the 'value' of Art. in our capitalistic modern society, it has no 'tangible' value. it doesn't contribute to workplace productivity, or our GDP. it doesn't make money. in fact, most of the time, it just makes us cry. yet, the deeper i go into this world, the more i feel like it is an unshakeable, undeniable part of us. it feels ancient, as Old as Humanity itself. this desire, this need to create – to express – to seek for the Truth in our shared experiences – what could be more human than that?
the more Art i create, the more awake i've become to the instances of inauthenticity in other parts of my life. i've felt disgruntled at work for the longest time, but i'd come to accept it as part of adulthood: something to suck up, and soldier on. Art opened my eyes to that, when i was journaling under the hot mid-day sun in the park.
i've always wondered why my family found it hard to accept me for who i am. why could i express myself so freely, so authentically on the page, but when it came to real life, i was shut down at every turn? i'm slowly realizing now that it may be a projection of my own past hurts. when i was younger, i didn't have the chance to express myself fully. some of my expression was celebrated, yes, but only in the context of achievement: debate, theatre, public speaking – oratory pursuits. but when i played, when i laughed, when i made a mess – the only feedback i'd receive was when i'd "gone too far" in the form of a slap or a scold; and not how i could avoid it in the future, or how i could make it right now. (that trauma manifested in adulthood as hyper-vigilance and crippling perfectionism. but i digress.)
as i grew up, and learned to hold space for my inner child to make the messes she missed out on, i can't help but wonder if my mom never gave me space to fail because she never had that luxury. as the youngest of seven children, she was coddled; but with that many mouths to feed, and not enough to go around, i can't imagine she had the opportunities that i did to explore, play, and discover myself.
it's hard to be a parent, isn't it? it's such a fine line. you'd think that you've done everything you could for your kid – and yet, always, there's still something you've fallen short in.
i think it’s time we moved past the idea that mistakes = failure. we can be cognizant of our mistakes. we can be told the myriad of ways we've f*cked up. but i don't think it's healthy to equate that to consummate failure; that because we did a million things right, but this one crucial thing wrong, we've failed our kids as parents. there were many, many years that i held this grudge against my mom, blaming her for all my problems: my low self-esteem, my social anxiety, my inability to follow through. but i feel like i see the bigger picture, now. and i can understand things for what they are: she isn't perfect. i'm not, either. but two imperfect people can still love each other, imperfectly. they just need to be willing to look past the hurt.
i'm in that situation right now, with my sister. today marks exactly one month since she requested for some space from our relationship. i don't think i've ever gone this long without speaking to her, and it breaks my heart, every single day. as someone who preaches empathy and communication and “working things out”, i just can't wrap my head around her decision. the silence treatment was weaponized by my mom all throughout my childhood, and it is still a very tender spot for me today.
for the past 30 days, i've been carrying this secret in my heart. telling myself: "it's okay, it's her story to tell. don't make this about you." but Art is about Truth, and so this is mine: it hurts. it hurts so much to be cut off from the people you love. when there is an invisible wall where there once was a joyous river of conversation. the worst part? i know she is hurting, too. i am trying to be respectful, to honor her timeline, but it's been a month… and i'm losing hope.
i'm afraid to lose my sister. i'm terrified i'll lose my oldest, bestest friend.
i don't know how we are going to come back from this. but if there's anything i've learned from these past 70 days, it's that the only way out is through (making Art).
and so, i write. and i set my Truth free. 🕊️
thank you for bearing witness to it.