There is a song that I love and used to listen to on repeat. When I hear it now, it reminds me of being young and angry, in that indignant way that seems to fade and soften sometime in your twenties and leave you sort-of resembling a normal person somewhere in your thirties. Some of the lines read: I have climbed the highest mountain/ I have sailed across the sea/ I have wrestled with my demons/ and woke up with only me
Perhaps because the entire life of this blog has revolved around relationships, or because of recent events in my current life, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal demons, specifically, how much do we (er, I) allow the little cloven feet of the things that haunt us to trample on the potential of new and greater things?
By no means do I claim to have the answer to this question, nor as to how to vanquish said demons, but I can say that, in my personal experience they interfere in more ways than I’d probably like to admit. It’s as of they – the demons, that is – wait, gathered on the edges of consciousness, and as potential-holding things occur in real life, they press in closer, one or two slipping over the break and into awareness – and, because life is like that, they are precisely the one or two terrify the hell out of you at that exact moment. Every time.
When I was a little girl, I never had much of an idea as to what I wanted. But, I was stubborn, a little defiant, and had seen enough in too few years to tell you what I didn’t want. And when I did, I would often insist with such conviction for such a small person that the people around me took it as my unwavering word.
For instance, I did not want to be an artist.
Though this often surprises people, I can picture myself as a child insisting that I did not, under any circumstances, want to be an artist when I grew up. I had been ingrained pretty early on that art was a “nice hobby” and, alone, did not lend itself well to successful people. A little afraid of doing things wrong, even then, I decided that it would be best to avoid the entire mess altogether. So, despite having won my first coloring contest at age 5 (in a 5-12 year old group!), having learned to oil paint at 10, and probably being the only fourth grader in the world to press her elementary school art teacher for a more adequate explanation of foreshortened perspective drawing because I just could not get the one leg of the hundredth horse I was drawing (to this day, I’m not sure that she actually understood it herself), I decided that middle and high school were the appropriate time for “more serious things” and committed myself to straight A’s and ideas of pre-med.
Funny, I never really figured out what kind of medicine I would pursue, not even when I applied to Boston University at the end of my junior year of high school – but, on some level, I suppose it didn’t matter. I wasn’t being an artist, and that was what was important. Thankfully, I had a small crisis in the very beginning of my senior year and dropped all of my science and math classes (which I would have never passed without massive intervention from a certain, near-genius, physicist/engineer/author friend of mine) and picked up every art, music, and lit class I possibly could.
At 30, I want to be an artist, more than I want to do anything in life, and it both saddens and terrifies me that it took me this long to realize it. And still, there are countless times when those demons fall over the edge of whatever it is that holds them back and find themselves somewhere in the part of my mind that deals with reality and begin to wreak havoc on the plans and dreams on which I think I have finally settled. It is in these moments that I experience a little bit of that old fear – that being an artist means I will inherently be unsuccessful, that I’m not good enough to actually pull it off, and that graphic design is a good enough compromise that will satisfy my creative spirit and still be practical enough.
These are difficult moments. They are terrifying, overwhelming, unsettling moments.
I still make it through at least the greater part of every day knowing that I want to be an artist, whatever that may or may not mean for my “success”, but I cannot help but wonder about the other areas of my life that I allow these demons to play their foul little game.
Relationships? Most definitely. When I was young, and frankly, when I was not so young, I spent a lot of time insisting that I did not want to get married, have children, or participate in anything remotely comparable. I had convinced myself that it would always end in nothing short of painful, avoidable, disaster. Not to mention that both my mother and my grandmother – the two most prominent women in my raising – said to me on many, many separate occasions that men should not be trusted. “Never depend on a man for anything, Karbear,” they would say. “You can do everything yourself.”
Funny how five year olds just believe the things you say.
Even in blogging. I can’t tell you that I didn’t want to be a blogger when I was a child– I didn’t know what a blog was, nor that they would ever exist, but it did not occur to me that I would ever long to write in the same way that I long to paint and create. This blog started as a way to document my experiences living and working in the Dominican Republic way, way back in 2009. I kept it going because I realized that I really liked to tell stories, and there were a few people who seemed to really like reading them. Since then (I stopped posting somewhere in 2011), my life has done a 180 and I have come to the begrudging place that I know I love to write. In fact, I think about writing a lot– obsessively, like subconsciously worrying with a thread or a pull in a sweater. Over my tea in the morning, when I lay down in bed at night, while I’m driving– I have considered what it would be like to start blogging again, and perhaps think about writing in a more serious vein. You would think that spending this much time thinking about doing something would make the actual ‘doing’ part easier. It doesn’t. It just made me think of all the reasons I shouldn’t start blogging again– I’m already doing too much. People don’t want to read what I’m writing. I’m old [thirty] and married now, and don’t have anything interesting to talk about. And so on…
But, like my mother always said, if you keep pulling that thread on your sweater, you’ll end up without a sweater. And so, here I am again, a blogger, I suppose– and perhaps a writer. At the very least, I think I still have a lot of stories to tell.