I can tell I’m coming out of an era. So to speak.
Moving through darkness is never easy. Taking a deep look at yourself and working on your shit is never simple. But these things are most certainly necessary.
Necessary for moving forward. Necessary for personal growth. Necessary for your mental health and your emotional intelligence and your ability to maintain a sense of hope in a shit storm of both internal and external mind-fuckery.
And as you know, I made (hell, am still making) a lot of art work wading through the darkest, most broken, bleeding places of my being. You’ve likely seen it here and there if you happen to follow my curious little life on this blog and social media.
I think the most important thing to note, the most crucial thing I’ve learned throughout this never-ending process, is just that. This is a process. A journey with many ebbs and flows, many falls and rises, that requires consistent presence and intentional action.
It’s crucial that you get up when you fall, no matter how hard. It’s the only way to keep moving forward.
Moving forward, learning the lessons, doing the things… it’s how we grow. But we need light to grow, and to quote my fave Brené Brown, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
So I’m telling you! Dig deep, find your Truth – even the ugly parts – because that’s where you begin to find your power and your light. And once you have that light, you hold onto that shit when the darkness creeps up again. Because it usually tries.
We don’t get to run from, or hide from, or get rid of our darkness – things like negative self-talk, downward spirals, feelings of hopelessness, struggles with self-worth, fears around putting yourself too far out there…
It all pops up from time to time. We have to give it space to breathe when it does – acknowledge the darkness. It’s the best way to maintain mental wellness.
I’m doing it today. It was a bad day. I was triggered at work. My laptop wasn’t working when I got home. The car needs a repair. I’m struggling financially. Everything is wrong and the world is one fire. Queue downward spiral and feelings of “trapped”, “not worthy”, “not good enough.”
Rational? Absolutely not. Does it happen? Often. But that’s why I say I’m coming out of an era so to speak. I’m learning and realizing…
When we accept and allow our darkest thoughts and feelings to come, when we acknowledge without becoming the emotion, we regain control.
We can quiet the negativity down.
We can show ourselves love.
We can try to understand where the monsters are coming from and cope accordingly.
We can lean into our fears and examine them and learn from them, which is the absolute best thing we can do.
We can say, “Look dude, I see you, I hear you, but I can’t let you continue to snuff out my light and control the narrative.”
Because those dark parts shape our light, just as our light shapes our darkness. The two cannot and do not exist without the other. Balance.
So in pursuit of balance I make art. I write. I share.
It helps to get the poison out. It helps to light a candle in the gloom. It helps to maintain a sense of hope in a shit storm of both internal and external mind-fuckery.
And now, looking at the body of work I’ve been making, I have a series essentially walking you through my darkest places.
And the coolest part for me personally is knowing that these places aren’t just mine. I’m not the first and only person to experience depression, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, sadness and rage. These dark places aren’t just mine, they’re ours.
That’s my favorite thing about art and storytelling… the universality of each.
To quote Cheryl Strayed…
“The best quotes don’t speak to one particular truth, but rather to universal truths that resonate – across time, culture, gender, generation and situation – in our own hearts and minds. They guide, motivate, validate, challenge and comfort us in our own lives. They reiterate what we’ve figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn.”
But it’s not just quotes. The same can be said for art, books, music, movies, and more.
Anyone putting their story – their joy and/or their pain – out into the world, is giving us a gift. A reminder that we are not alone in our suffering. That we are not alone, in general.
This is an important message. And I’m not the first person who has needed to hear it, as you may have gathered from my candidness on my mental health above. Which is exactly why I’m sharing it with you. I’ve been on the edge. The edge of giving up completely. But only in grasping that I am not alone, and that I have people that I can lean on – my people – do I make it through every time.
Don’t get me wrong. Pulling yourself through is on you. But having a solid support system to foster that growth is essential.
Without them I would probably still be suffocated by my darkest places.
Here’s to finding the light,