My life has been filled with more ups and downs than I can possibly count. In junior high I began my struggle with Depression and Anxiety. I had absolutely no idea then that this was something that would follow me into my adult life, then it was just my angsty reality. Although this isn’t a post about Depression and Anxiety specifically, it is a integral piece of my story and I have a strong belief that one’s whole story is important to their journey. I don’t really want this post to be an entire book, so I will just touch on a few important parts. For the better part of my teenage years, art was my way of managing those highs and lows. In junior high it was basic drawings and writing poetry. In high school and college it became mainly painting, but I would do absolutely any kind of art I could get my hands on. I would paint every surface I could including by not limited to: old wood from my dad, canvas, paper, and the walls of my bedroom.
I would eat and breathe art. It was how I dealt with the pieces of my life and the emotions that came along with them. However that all changed in 2009. That year was a really big year. I lost about 8 people that I loved within those 12 months. In March or April, I had an adverse reaction to the medication Zoloft, which resulted in developing a condition called Functional Myoclonus where my body would twitch constantly. In September, I married my best friend at 18 and a month later he left for Basic Training. By the time Fall rolled around, I was so emotionally tired and instead of running to art as I had for so many years before, I ran away.
I buried myself in my new life as an Army Wife. I stopped working and became a housewife. I would cook, clean, and blog about couponing, recipes, cleaning tips, and more. Every so often my husband would say, “Erica, can you please do art already!” But I always had an excuse.
I don’t even know where to start anymore
Right now I don’t have the time.
It’s too hard to just pick it back up.
Maybe I will soon, but right now I can’t.
Or, I would simply say No. I can’t. or I won’t.
When Kendall’s contract with the Army ended, we finally took a deep inhale. It felt like we had been living in this idealistic, dreamlike state and all the sudden our bubble broke and there was this great big world available to us. I started this painstakingly slow journey of trying to find myself in this broken world I had created. I started doing things because I wanted to, not because I felt like I was supposed to. I started recognizing the things that are important to me and what I want my life to look like.
I also starting trying everything I could think of to reach the life I wanted. I started a portrait photography business, which I hated. I learned Coding and web design, which was interesting but not my passion. I tried niche blogging, but it felt unauthentic and limiting. I tried going back to school, but after 3 days I realized that this was WAY too linear of a life choice for me. So a few months ago, I sat down with Kendall and had a conversation that we have had way too many times.
What should I do with my life?
And he sat there and just said “You know what I am going to say, Erica.” and I just looked at him and said, “I know, but please say it again.”
You need to make art.
This wasn’t the first time I had heard those words. It wasn’t the first time I had tried to live those words. But it was the first time in 7 years that I believed them. It was the first time 7 years that I really wanted that.
That was about 2 months ago. To be honest, it has been so much harder than I anticipated. Finding my style and the motivation to work on projects has been exhausting. I have 7 years of shit that I have to dig through to get there. But the difference is, I’m not quitting. I’m not defeated by it. I just keep pushing through and I am making slow progress. I had thrown out nearly all my art supplies over the years. So I have to start from scratch. That’s really expensive. So yeah, it’s really slow, but I am moving forward.
It is time for me to stop running from art. I have to face the emotions that I ran from. I have had more anxiety in the last month than I have in years. I have had to face my distractions and struggles and learn how to not let them defeat me.
This quote from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield has been one that I have to keep on repeat.
“This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
I am the only one with the power to create the life I want. I am the only one who can make the decision to work or not to.
The power is mine. So I must stop running and stand strong. I have to trust my ability. Trust the process. Trust my decision. Because I have one life. If I spend it all waiting for my life to magically become the life I want, I will literally wait the entire thing away. I refuse to accept that fate. I refuse to die without having said what I need to say. I refuse to miss out on my only opportunity to see and contribute to the beauty in our world. This moment is mine. And only I can make use of it. Otherwise, it is gone. And I refuse to let that be my reality any longer.