‘What do you have to say?’, ‘your English isn’t good enough for this’, ‘It’s lame.’
Thoughts that crossed my mind when I was pondering over the decision of starting my personal blog. As a twenty-something year old, Belgian university student, the idea of putting one’s own writing on the web sounds a bit far fetched, maybe even audacious.
But hey, I’m here now. So what changed my mind?
Currently I’m pursuing a masters degree in the arts and in over a year I’ll be graduated. Spit out from the safe womb into the cold, hard world, we call reality. To be honest, thoughts have been stirring and I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency lately. Fear, uncertainty and anxiety everyone my age might relate with.
Yet, at university everything is going swimmingly. Nothing to worry about in this controlled, reassuring environment. The voices only exist in my mind and I should discard them and hold on to the sturdy structure of rules and conventions to recenter my balance, right? Don’t let the voices get the better of you and focus on that one amazing destination: to live the same life as the all hailed alumni. They have made it into the art gallery world, they have become famous documentary photographers and have been lavished with fancy prizes.
It seems like a beautiful life and I would love to end up in the same place as them, but we also have to be real… These people only make up a very small percentage of the graduates.
So I’m wondering, ‘what happens to all these other people?’, ‘what if I’m one of them?’. Yes, I’m being a bit doubtful and pessimistic now, but sadly enough it is something I have to admit to myself. While I was breaking my head over all the possible plan B’s for after graduation, I’ve come to a reassuring thought: ‘Isn’t hanging on to this idea as the only definition of success limiting?’ ‘Can you only call yourself ‘accomplished’ and ‘worthy’ when your work is hanging in an art gallery? When your self-worth is validated by all these fancy prizes?’. – The art world and the people who decide what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art is definitely another complex topic to dissect a different time… – Even with this realization, the idealist in me is too stubborn to give up. I refuse to let go of this dream. I want to travel the world and make a living from my art, but I will do it on my terms. I will keep going down this rocky path not for the external factors such as fame, money or ego, but because it makes me feel fulfilled and happy. If ‘succes’ comes my way, great. If it doesn’t, that’s also fine, I know that this will only allow another opportunity to be created.
Lately I’ve been really enjoying reading Deepak Chopra’s books and listening to his podcasts. Here is a quote I’d like to share with you from his book The 7 Spiritual Laws of Succes:
You can look at every problem you have in your life as an opportunity for some greater benefit. You can stay alert to opportunities by being grounded in the wisdom of uncertainty.
You, me, every person on this earth is a multitude of different personas. Be it a mother, a doctor, an artist or a writer. And I find this complexity truly beautiful and fascinating. However, we are so obsessed with labeling everything, knowing everything and putting everything into neatly organized, transparant boxes. By doing so, aren’t we also restricting ourselves? Limiting ourselves to a single existence, a single mode of living?
Why only eat one kind of ice cream when you have an entire aisle of colorful tubs waiting for you to be discovered?
I am experiencing these limitations right now in my creative process. Photography has kind of become my vanilla ice cream. Standardly delicious and reassuringly dull. My taste buds are craving a novel sensation and my attention seems to be jumping from one colorful tub to the next. I was feeling uninspired recently and my mind seemed to be doing everything it could to get away. I was no longer photographing because it made me happy. I was picking up the camera because I need to get that flimsy piece of paper that supposedly should be the solution to all my problems.
How idle my creative process had become…
A few months ago I started to venture outside the confines of photography in the hopes it would serve as a remedy for my dissatisfaction. After six years, I decided to pick up my dusty guitar again. I am teaching myself now how to sing. I started dabbling with poetry and I have challenged myself to learn Chinese calligraphy. By taking distance from photography, I’ve found myself feeling more creatively inspired and funny enough, I’m even thinking of photographing again.
‘You’re wasting your time, just focus on your school work’.
A thought that occurred to me many times and often induced a feeling of guilt while I was enjoying these creative ‘distractions’.
But I’ve decided for myself that from now on, I will unapologetically lean into these new found interests. I want to embrace these rushes of energy and allow myself to explore the different facets that make up my personality. In the end, that is what art and creativity is all about, no? It is about the joy of the process and only here can the best artworks come to fruition.
While I embark on this journey, I’ve decided to create a little corner on the web called Ginkoleaves. Just like when you decide to go on an adventure, one of the essentials is a camera. A means to document your journey to look back on and share with your friends and family. That is what Ginkoleaves is for me. A camera, a little adventure book, a place to document my discoveries and share my daily joys and challenges. It is a place to freely wander and unapologetically express.