To put in perspective the type of person I am (rather than just saying 'neurotic' and making it easier on all of us), you should know that I've been narrating my actions mentally since the third grade. I remember the precise moment it began. I was given a paper, and I shoved it unceremoniously to the bottom of my backpack and stood, staring at it, for a moment. Briefly, I could picture the illustration of that crumpled, shadowed paper perfectly, so naturally me proceeding to sit down at my desk was accompanied in my head by "Amber reluctantly slid back into her chair" (probably not in those words, but maybe!). This never stopped. In my maturity (I mean age-wise- mentally I'm still in third grade) it has slowed down significantly, but it still hangs out there.
I'm telling you this to emphasize a point, which is that my view of life has loaned itself to a talent in certain things, specifically writing and illustration. It seemed to have been what I was born to do for the longest time. I'm GOOD at it, and I can admit that I always have been, which says something coming from someone whose tendency is to short-sell themselves. At least- I was good at it. I was also good at singing, and acting, and painting, and working with others. I grew up dreaming of being an actress, a singer (which was abandoned upon realizing that I'm terrified of singing in front of people. Those who have heard me are a reasonably small group. Do I write in parentheses too much? I do, don't I?), a writer, a painter, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a psychiatrist, a social worker.
Never did it even cross my mind that 10 years- and counting!- of my adult life would be dedicated to foreclosing on peoples' homes, and invoicing.
There are a number of musicians I listen to, artists I follow, etc. that have produced work that more or less points a finger of blame at me and mocks me for the decisions I have made that have lead me here. I can't say that I blame them. They are brave. They took that plunge into a strange, competitive, unpredictable world to follow their dreams. I'm too chickenshit to do the same.
|This is all I have on hand. I had a crappy scanner.|
The second part of the reason is that, as aforementioned, I am a chickenshit. You see, I really like STUFF. I like having stuff. Nice stuff is even more appealing, as is expensive stuff. This includes a house, preferably one I like, and a car that isn't a piece of crap. Stuff costs money. Money is never a guarantee, but especially not when you're an artist. There's a reason the term "starving artist" came about. The idea of not knowing when I am going to have money is absolutely terrifying to me. Considering I am not particularly wealthy, or even "Well off" most of the time, you can only imagine how often I am on edge about finances. I obviously am just me and therefore can't tell you whether or not everyone feels the same way about this, but when I don't know if I'm going to be able to pay my bills or when, I literally think of nothing else and lose tons of sleep.
Maybe the choices I've made have contributed to this way of thinking, or maybe it's just another one of the traits that make me the barely tolerable person I am. Maybe I would be more happy and tolerable a person if I could find a way to let go of materialistic things and figure out the difference between what I need to be a happy human being, and what I want. It's worse now that I have kids, because I'm not just worrying about myself anymore. Now I need to ensure that they have electricity, and bedrooms to sleep in, and comfortable furniture. Would they still be happy if we lived in a little shack with no heat and no TV? Some people argue 'yes'. All you need is love, ideally. Realistically, though, in this day and age? I'm not so sure. I'd love to trust in that and take a flying leap into the unknown. I'd love to be able to let go of this fear and embrace the struggle with open arms the way I did once, but I've lost that ability along with the squandered talent.
I don't know if it's my approaching 30th birthday that has gotten me so introspective lately, but I seem to be on a massive self-improvement kick. As part of my quest, I've found myself way too focused on materialistic means of acquiring a sense of satisfaction, though I know full well that it's empty gains. I've never purchased something for myself that followed with a sense of contentment. It's always just- "now I have this, what can I get next?" and that lifestyle of greed will never make me happy.
I guess my real quest should be getting back to the basics of who I am as a person, because in my pursuit of keeping up with this increasingly materialistic and vain society, I have lost that. Here's hoping the next decade can be one in which I can chip away at the meaningless layers I've piled on in the in the decade before it.