The Artist's Way Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity

The First and Second Think


When reading the article "Going Sane" in the Week 2 portion of The Artist's Way I came to realize one of my self-sabotage patterns. I began to refer to this subtle sabotage as the "second think". The first think would be an instant idea that would flutter into my head and make me inspired. But, then would come the anxious second think. The second think would be this quiet thought about how no matter what my idea as, I wasn't able to do it. I always dismissed my burst of creativity, thinking this was my logic and rationality reminding me that not all ideas have to be carried out by myself. There is always someone more talented and qualified who would really do something amazing with my idea. Anyone could have an idea, that doesn't mean I had the talent to pursue it. Here are some of the self doubts I found myself juggling while working through week 2.

  • Penelope's Book: I'm not an author, I barely studied literature in college.

  • Promoting Myself on TikTok: I'm too old to learn TikTok, no one wants to see anyone in their thirties attempt to make funny videos.

  • Podcasting: Sure, I have journals full of stories to tell and I've outlined the concept. But I don't know anything about microphones or recording. Techie stuff really intimidates me.

"Going Sane" got me thinking about how I am the person who holds up the wall between what I want to create and the act of creating it. This way of life has shifted from people telling me I'm wrong to pursue my creative projects to myself being the guard between my logical life and what could lead me to artistic passion. Pictured in this section is what I imagine my face looked like when I had the "oh shit, turns out I'm the problem" realization. The face that mean I had come to terms that there was no one who would make this better but me. It was time to get out of my comfort zone and explore my unknown self. I was cautiously ready to tackle these thoughts head on and begin to take my ideas seriously. Everything I wanted to do just needed an initial first step. If I could think it, I could plan it. As a Capricorn, I know I am the most successful when I have an outline and a check-list to follow. When I am armed with a plan, I am my most confident about any task. It was time for me to come up with an agenda to making myself comfortable with my creativity.

Who is Allowed to the Artsy Party?


One of the elements of this week that I find myself still reflecting upon is the idea of who should be allowed into your creative journey. Cameron refers to the people who do not serve us during our creative growth as "poisonous playmates". When I think about what poisonous playmates mean to me, I realize there are several people I get lulled into a false sense of security in my relationships with them. When life threw me these people through genetics, work, social structures, or other events, I felt connected with them. I took that as a sign I could share openly with them about my goals, interests, and dreams. However, just because someone connects with you on what type of movie genre you like to watch, doesn't mean they can help further your goal or understand why you want to be a children's book author. I have spent a lot of time with naysayers who when I push their comfort zone on what my life could look like when I'm living creatively, they rally against me. I find myself disappointed in the people I love because I always believed that true love was partnered with radical acceptance. As I have moved through my artist's journey, I realize that other people's reactions to my work have little to do with me. As hard as it was for me to begin this journey, it is just as hard for someone on the outside of it to understand it and offer me support. Some people in my life are not ready to push through their own boundaries to accommodate my new growth. Therefore, there are certain people I have stopped looking to for assurance and guidance. I wouldn't learn marine biology from a heart surgeon, so why do I look for affirmation from someone who doesn't value art or is living a false narrative about what it means to be an artist. I've learned I cannot force people to take my hand and go on this path with me. I have to be my own leader, my own affirmer, and my own accountability partner.

I have found the sacred circle exercise of week two one of the most beneficial activities within the book. Within that circle I've written my spirituality, producing my podcast, becoming an author, and this blog dedicated to working through The Artist's Way. These are my projects where I am still too volatile to be questioned on their importance. I then wrote in the circle the people who have shown general interest and support in at least two of those subjects. These are the relationships I feel safe communicating with about progress. Outside of the circle were people I recognized were playmates in my life but not in my artistic work. Having a clear boundary between people I can go deeply with has been immensely helpful and I update the paper often based on what I write in my morning pages. It also illuminated for me that I could benefit greatly from having a community based in my spirituality as well as my artistic goals. Luckily, I can navigate through social media fairly easily and immersed myself in some groups that could help me meet my goal. I was very candid about my imposter syndrome in both my art and my spirituality. I wrote about how one of my goals in joining said group was to combat my self-doubt and learn from others. The support I received from strangers was immense and inspiring. I was able to hear about how others viewed themselves and their work before The Artist's Way or as they studied more about their take on spirituality. I was able to practice talking about my art and my spiritual work while asking leading questions for feedback. I was also led to podcasts and books that would help me feel knowledgeable and grounded in my new path. I was well on my way to having a community to support me when I felt like I wasn't brave enough for my journey.

Enjoyments and Tiny Changes


Week two was one of my first steps in reconnecting to my priorities. In order for me to make time for the things I enjoyed, I needed to remember what they were. There were my pastimes that I always made time for: listening to podcasts, journaling, yoga/meditation, and other activities that were forged into my daily routine. What I noticed about my list of things I didn't make consistent time for were the activities where I was the active participant in the activity and not a bystander to creativity. One of my biggest mental blocks to getting out my supplies for collaging or painting is the idea of materials and the mess they will create. One of my tiny changes I keep writing about is re-imagining my loft space so I can truly turn it into a working studio. Whenever I set my mind to paint, I first have to spend a chunk of time cleaning out my space. The furniture currently residing in the loft doesn't serve my need for art materials to be stored as well as board games and books to be displayed. There are a lot of organized chaotically piles in my workspace. Time has always been one of my anxiety points so when I think of the chore of cleaning up the loft, painting for a little bit, and then cleaning again my brain fizzes out. It was time for me to start making conscious changes in my creative space.

A Failed Artist Date


I completed an Artist Date for week 2, it just wasn't the date I had dreamt. One afternoon at my tutoring job I noticed that it had finally started to snow. I smiled at the graceful, fluffy flakes as they drifted down to the ground. I sighed as I watched it accumulate and then I giggled because I was dressed ridiculously for the weather. I had promised my student that I would wear my rainbow tutu so we could match that day. I looked at how the colorful tulle compared to the stark white environment as we went out to play after lunch. I realized that what I really wanted to do was a solo photoshoot in my favorite park with my rainbow self against a world of brilliant winter.

I started googling how to accomplish a photo shoot by yourself with limited equipment. I realized I was going to have to take a stack of books and possibly my yoga mat to prop my phone up. I didn't have a remote connected to my phone's camera so I would have to rely on the timer function. The ten seconds to set myself up seemed daunting. Doubt started to creep into my brain. I wasn't prepared for this whimsical idea. I didn't want to have to lug a bunch of belongings around the park and risk people asking me what I was doing. The rainbow tutu would also draw a lot of attention so I definitely was going to get stares by people passing me. Also, when my work day ended and I got home, the snow had stopped. It was more of a flurry of sleet and the aesthetic no longer appeased my vision. I had completely given up on the project. I wasn't prepared.

Looking back on this idea, I know I was taking myself too seriously. I could have convinced myself that no one would actually be interested in what I was doing or how I was dressed. I could have even laughed at the attempts to take staged photos within ten seconds. My brain had morphed this fun idea into a full blown professional modeling shoot. I did not feel confident enough to appear silly in public while I was exploring something new. To make it up to myself, I ordered a ring light that came with a Bluetooth remote. I had removed the block from my creativity and taken a stand against my excuses. When the next photo idea arises, I will be ready.

My alternative Artist Dates were doing a deep listen to Taylor Swift's Evermore album. I also completed a Solar Eclipse Ritual. During the ritual I cut ties to a belief from my past that I wasn't special or talented enough to create art. I also reflected on how in the presence moment I felt ready to tackle my blocks from my creativity and repurpose my energy. For my future reflection, I offered advice to my present and past self that I can always trust in my creativity and be the sole driving force towards what I want from my life. The past, present, and future were all represented by three candles. In front of the lit candles were my musings written on a peace of paper. There was a piece of strong connecting each candle. As I moved through the ritual and let go of my past self-doubt, I cut the string connected my past to my present. I then thanked and honored how I was feeling presently and snipped its connection to my future. Lastly, I asked for guidance and protection in my new path. I also got a bonus to this ritual and got to eat a candy to assure that my next phase of life would be filled with sweetness.

I ended the ritual with a tarot reading focused on what would come to light from the passing darkness. The spread featured revealed that I was still not ready to define what my future life would be with a focus on my work life. As the eclipse revealed the light of the sun, I would be shown a strong sense of love and acceptance from the people who understood my authentic self. I only had to believe that I was worthy of acceptance and that love could come easily from those around me. The spread also reaffirmed that I garnish the abundance and prosperity I work for and that it is my own nurturing that will make my dreams come true. I already have the skills required to get out of life what I am seeking.

Week 2 didn't contain enough time to form my new identity. However, I now know that reflecting on my identity is an everyday occurrence. I am the only person who will make all of these tiny changes into bigger achievements.

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