Why I Make Things
I’ve been an artist my whole life, I just didn’t know it until five or so years ago. There’s always been something unnamed in me that I have needed to exercise, even as a child. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like an alien around other people, never seeing the specter of social norms, spewing up word vomit in an attempt to connect. Maybe it’s the narcissistic hubris of an only child. I’m self-aware enough to know that on some level it’s attempt to overcome my mental illness (Depression, ADHD, Light Bipolar). I used to think that if I could just explain my brain just right to someone else that some sort of transcendence-through-understanding might occur. I never did accomplish that.
I remember when I was little, maybe eight or nine, I had a friend who used to play psychiatrist with me. I would tell her what was in my head, and I’m fairly sure as soon as I left her house she would call up her friends in our very small class and have a good laugh. My life is full of memories like this; I was a naive kid. That is just a small example. A girl got expelled from my middle school for bullying me. In high school my sadness and alcohol abuse made me a class clown of sorts. I blacked out a lot. People would cheers to my name when they chugged liquor at parties. The people doing these things were my friends, almost always done in the name of humor. Despite its obvious negative effects I still genuinely think on most counts the people participating in this were not malicious, which is weird. This kind of thing was so common in my life I eventually just saw it as a symptom born from having to be around someone with a personality as strong as mine. I saw it as a reasonable response to having to deal with the social stigma of being associated with me. I am still trying to break myself of this mindset.
I don’t like to talk about any of this, mainly because I was not just a victim of it, I was complicit in it. I didn’t just put up with it, I participated in it. It was something that I had to deal with to have the social experiences I wanted. It was just my reality. As I got older learned that if I made myself smaller, made the joke first, that I could control the situation more, and maybe get some of the connection that I wanted in return. I was not a saint. Sometimes I was mean as a snake. I almost never think about it now. I hate admitting that it touches me in the present, but perhaps that’s a mistake.
Experience has taught me that the world does not take kindly to honest self-expression, this kind of vulnerability. I’ve never been anything but punished for it, emotionally, verbally, once even physically. However, despite it’s apparent futility, I am still compelled to try. I use the word compelled intentionally, because it’s not a choice for me. It’s in my blood. I cannot quiet myself, though I still have the strong impulse to, most of the time. But I know my greatest value is my voice and I will use it. I’m sharing all this now in the hope that it will help someone else feel less alone one day, and maybe help me understand myself a little better along the way. That is why I create.