Friday, January 31, 2014
Everyone has a talent. I truly believe this. Some are more apparent than others, but everyone has that one gift that makes them amazing. Everyone. No exceptions. No one walks this earth mediocre. Each of us are miraculous living beings living complex lives, impacting others in subtle complex ways. There are no mistakes. I am convinced of it.
I love to solve problems, create things, make things. I love my individuality and I am not ashamed of it anymore. Not like when I was young and judged by my peers who found it to be easier to conform to the whims of society, their parents, the school, then to explore things for themselves. Looking back onto those days that I felt inadequate, I realize my inadequacy was fostered by jealousy. It may have been unrealized by my peers, who felt that random meanness was justified. An unconscious attempt on their part to turn me around and make me a useful asset to the established norm. I don't know. As much as I hated myself for being different, I simply could not conform. Something kept me loving what I loved despite the meanness. I wasn't a rebel. I wasn't trying to be edgy or different or revolutionary. I just simply was existing as myself and was incapable of doing otherwise.
A friend of mine posted this article about a fellow artist who puts her heart out into the world for all to see in hopes of getting closer to her dreams. She does this because she simply cannot be anyone but herself. She does not post because she feels superior. She posts because she needs to. She needs to remind herself and others that there is more to this world than a gray factory existence, that she has something to contribute and in order to make a living from her talent, she has got to put herself out there into the public. This project I found deeply touching. Obviously, her purpose and destiny is to bring awareness to this cold, anonymous, mean-spirited world.
Having experienced this myself while trying to make a living from what I love and exposing myself to the anonymity of the interwebs in order to achieve this desire, I feel especially kindred to her cause. When first trying to establish my etsy store, I was going from one project to another just trying to find my place. I had no idea what to charge for what I created or to describe it. Sometimes I would sell a hat for 20$, sometimes 50 or 60, sometimes auctions would only bring me 5 or 10$. I was learning. The only thing that I could boast that was extraordinary, was the fact that everything I made was patternless and unguided. The concept itself was not my own, but the creation of it was completely random. As I started advertising myself, I suddenly was confronted by a fellow crochet artist who obviously was running a very successful business. Via Facebook, she publicly questioned my prices and belittled my work, further accusing me of "stealing" her ideas.
At first, I tried very hard to be an adult about the whole thing, simply asking her why she would say something so nasty for no reason. I further admitted that I was new at this and thanked her for the advice, promptly going over my store and setting what I assumed was more reasonable prices.
She wrote back, chastising my price changes, further belittling me for stealing her ideas and ended her message with, "Oh, and you are ugly."
Whoa! What? I am a grown up person, being teased by another grown up person over an idea that is blanketed over the internet for anyone to look at and try. Frankly, I behaved wrongly. I have such a temper that it wasn't long before I simply stooped to her level, finally having to block any more messages from coming in because I suddenly was in junior high with a circle of bullies around me, crying and feeling inadequate and helpless. The only difference was, I was the only one in the room feeling this way.
Possibly I was raised differently, but to just say something, even in comment online, randomly mean is unspeakable to me. Even during my argument with this other artist, I was never able to type, "No, YOU'RE the ugly one." I can't do it. Oddly, I don't feel the cloak of anonymity. I feel like a hater bully. I feel real guilt and remorse when I know I have hurt another human being for no reason at all. This is not to say that I do not have strong opinions that others may not like. I am also not saying that if my feelings are hurt, it will only be so long before I will justify a taste of the medicine prescribed to me so liberally. I am not perfect. I'm not Zen. I am a human being with the same knee jerk reactions as the next person. However, I will put my name on each and every thing I say and I will be accountable for it. I will even apologize for it and reflect on my actions should my accountability be challenged. I am not afraid to answer for anything. If I am, then it should not be said until I am willing to be accountable. This is a daily, conscious challenge for me because I am so open with my heart. It's taken me a long time to learn it and I still screw it up at times.
I tend to think about things. It may take days, but I have to come up with a valid reason for things to happen. I will not claim that my reasoning is correct, but if it brings me peace enough to move on to the next thing, then I stick with it. I personally believe that everything happens for a reason. There are no accidents. The reason we exist on this earth is to support each other and help each other. Maybe that crochet artist was meant to send me messages because I needed to be humbled. I needed to be reminded that there will always be someone out there who has more talent than me. I need to think about how I present myself so that I shine, but I don't make others feel inadequate. I need to inspire. Thats my job. I need to use my talent for good. I need to sing for those who need a song, and I need to create things for people who need a symbol. I think I have a right to prosper from these talents, but I also know that they are a gift to me and should be a gift to others too. Maybe what I said to her was meant for her. Maybe she got something out of my retaliation that humbled her for the better. I don't know. Her attitude did not change with me despite compliments and an honest attempt to be diplomatic. But, maybe they did and she was just too ashamed of herself to let me know.
But, why then did she confront me in the first place? What was the driving force behind that first anonymous comment? Here again, I am not at all sure. I've spent a lot of time discussing this very thing with myself over several different subjects and it always seems to boil down to one simple emotion. Jealousy. While arguing she mentioned that she purchased the patterns she used to create her business. There was no originality there. She had the talent to construct, but essentially, she made her money from the creativity of others.
As with the artist above who posted her mean comments and incorporated them into her art, what was the reason that prompted this hate? In one photo, she poses with her arm up showing her armpits in their most natural state. Personally, I don't find this offensive. Shaving is an unhealthy nuisance that is only encouraged because the "norm" dictates that the modern woman is a filthy animal if she is not hairless. She, of course, gets chastised for this photo. Why? Maybe because the person commenting wishes they had the guts to be natural. Maybe they wish they were loved as they were without all the makeup and razor burn. Maybe they are jealous of the artist's comfort in her own body, which fosters the attitude of, "If I can't do it, no one should. It's my duty to shame her into conforming to the mainstream." Possibly they are jealous of her ability to just make things, to be pretty with minimal effort, jealous of her natural thinness, jealous of her ability to manage or prioritize her time to do what she enjoys...Jealously that they would never ever admit to if they had an identity attached to that comment. Instead of finding their own talent and beauty, they compare themselves to others and pull them apart to me them feel superior. These people assume that the recipient of the comments will simply shrug it off, but we feel every single jab as real as if it were a sword through the guts. I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would honestly want to do this to another human being. Instead of being jealous, look for your talent. It may not be as black and white as some, but its there. It may be a way with words, a talent for making money and managing it, just being a comfortable presence, but its there and its something I do not possess. That a lot of others do not possess. Its your gift unique to you and yours to spread to others to help them be better. Stop being ashamed, hateful, jealous. You have a purpose. You may not know what it is, but you are accomplishing it right now. Are you loud and obnoxious? Maybe you are teaching patience. Are you disfigured in some way or do you feel you are unattractive? Maybe you are teaching acceptance and appreciation for inner beauty. Do you complain a lot? Maybe you are teaching someone to be more empathetic. We all have our quirks, our subtleties, our personalities. None of us are perfect prophets of peace. We are human beings. We should act appropriately and be proud of who we are and be supportive of others. We should be people who are proud to wear a name tag all the time.