What does it mean to be our full selves? I was recently challenged by loved one on why I was struggling with centering the artist part of me in my day to day life and I was forced to admit, I’m not sure how to be my “artist” self. Thinking about it, I wonder if I’m afraid because I create art from a very vulnerable place. A place where the inner wise part lives. A place where I am willing to do what it takes – split myself open, let it all go, be estranged from my desires – all to be centered in the truth.
Facilitating and activism lets me hide behind others’ truth or the political truth. Personal truth involves a personal cost if it is rejected. It’s why we all hide our truth or struggle with dishonesty. I was taught that the key to my survival as a deeply sensitive and intuitive person was to hide. I also learned to expect punishment for any truth that was perceived to cause conflict. As I grew up, I did learn that there was a way to share my intuition which was appreciated. People liked it when I could help them understand themselves better. When I can guess at, name, and relate to their truth this built bridges, yet, as much as I did this for others, my truth was not received with the same understanding. Others often perceived my truth as suspect. I longed for people who were willing to do for me what I did for them. Over my life, I haven’t found many, but I did find a few and the gift they have given me is giving my truth room to exist on its own, without them being afraid.
Why do we find people’s truth so scary? I think it’s in part because we can feel bad, like we failed someone and I think in part because truth requires us to change. If we let ourselves sit with it, letting the feelings of discomfort, anger, and sadness pass, then whatever of that truth rings true for us, then asks us to shift, to change, to evolve. It’s why truth is so hard and why it is so powerful.
The real art, once we get practiced at listening to and letting truth saturate our lives is learning to hold multiple realities at once. Sometimes conflicting truths can both feel right. We learn how to let that be “okay”, to live in what I call the, “AND”. This is true AND that is true too. I find this place fun, where multiple realities exist and many truths are present. Fun, but lonely. Fun AND unsettling.
We don’t seem to have cultural teachings about how to be in relationship with truth. The most we are taught is the scientific method of searching out and only believing discernible, replicable facts. But, when it comes to social human experience this approach is lacking.
Because we both fear and crave truth, we both fiercely reject it and/or give it power.
For me, often not fitting into or being able to function in the ways we’ve established as socially acceptable, my truth is often perceived as conflict creating. My truth is often fiercely rejected. But what does this mean as an artist who’s decided to center my own truth in my day-to-day life? One is that it clicks why all those “how to be an artist… writer, etc.” books said that there will be people in your life who are angry with you for doing art, that they themselves might actually be frustrated or repressed artists. Their anger and discomfort might be misdirected because they are struggling with their own desire to be centered in their own truth.
Two, this means that to live authentically as an artist, to live centered in my own truth, I am really going to have to let go of caring what other people think of me. Caring what others have thought has been a long-established survival mechanism in trying to protect myself. Of course, this doesn’t mean I start to disregard people’s feelings or critiques, but that I must redefine what self-protection means. I have to start taking people’s fear and discomfort less personally, maybe even just starting with not taking it personally unless they asked me to.
Finally, and perhaps hardest, I need to stop being afraid of taking up energetic space. Truth is energetically big and I am practiced at being small, another survival mechanism, not taking up too much space in a group of people unless for some reason I absolutely have to. I’m so practice at being energetically small that to be my full self really means that I must learn how to allow myself energetic flexibility. I can’t avoid that pushback is part of being an artist and I can no longer prioritize silence/safety over openness/honesty.
Centering in my own truth, nurturing a constant connection to allow for the highest good (which may be in complete opposition to my ego), living in that “AND”, while giving myself permission to take up space on this earth is what being an artist means to me.
As with all change, I must begin with noticing in each moment…
– Am I centered in my own truth?
– Am I allowing opportunity for the highest good to be expressed (check the ego)?
– Am I giving myself permission to take up energetic space, to be in flow with others instead of hiding?