Infertility and Humility and Art
Here is a question I answered in an (very well put together, seriously great questions Tiffay!) interview not long ago. I like how the interviewer acknowledges that we have to create a spiritual space inside of ourselves to be safe in our creativity. Its such an honest evaluation of how hard it is to show our deepest selves in our art, and in our lives. It made me think about living honestly and fully and of course that led me to think about humility and empathy. I really do want to help people who are afraid to show their work but its a deeper issue than being afraid to show your art. Its about being afraid to be yourself, and maybe even afraid to see yourself at all. Does that make sense? I have talked before about how focusing on being a source of positivity for others actually makes is much easier to be open about yourself (code for showing your art if thats what your goal is) because your focus is not on yourself, or your ego or your image, but on a meaningful interaction with another person. Is it so wrong to say that when you do that, you find many times that the other person you are having a meaningful interaction with is someone who's perspective, or values are not in line with yours? I think that its ok to acknowledge that, take their opinion with a grain of salt, and move on. (code for not give a fly fuck). I say this in the most respectful sense of course (sarcastic but not really). I talk about infertility here because showing my art has honestly never been hard for me, but talking about infertility was hard for me, so it makes me more empathetic toward the many who have asked for advice about being open about art, which is really about showing our true selves to the world.
Lets talk about when others are rude to you.
I can tell you that when I was talking about my infertility and struggles with that, I encountered some rudeness that I was floored by. But for the most part it was unintentional rudeness. I mean to say that it came from a person who was so self absorbed that they didn't even know that turning my problem around and putting their judgmental spin on it was hurtful or selfish of them. Perfect example: I was telling the mother of a friend at a party about my struggle and a new mom overheard me and came to say, loudly, in front of everyone at the party that I didn't really want to get pregnant anyway. That she had been sick, and fat, and in pain for nine months and it was terrible...Then I guess she felt guilty b/c she said she would do it all over again for her sweet baby....I must have had a really blank look on my face b/c she stared at me for a moment and then my friends mom gave me a hug. (Insert open mouthed speechlessness here) She is telling a woman who would give anything, and has given more of herself than she thought she had just for the chance to be fat, sick and pregnant. How could she know about the thousands of dollars I spent, the anxiety, the fact that I had already been living with the pain of Endometriosis for years and years. I wanted to kick her in her vagina. But it made me realize this:
People offer advice when you feel down b/c they want to be the one who fixes you. They want to insert themselves into your problem and be victorious in offering the solution or the perspective that will make you better, or happier. That kind of advice is motivated by selfishness, not humility or empathy. (although I still give the benefit of the doubt and think its just a lesson not yet learned and not coming from a malicious place.) Mostly in our culture living in sadness is not ok, you must always prove you are feeling better, or you must always fix other's to make them feel better. Thats our duty! I could write a whole post about etiquette for infertility in our culture, and maybe I will! But I learned that is ok to live in sadness, and that I don't have a responsibility to make others feel better about my sadness. I also learned that I can't control the negative energy that will be hurled at me when I open up, but I can control my reaction, and I can learn from it how to be better to other people. (I am not sad anymore, btw, I get over stuff fast, lucky me.)
This leads me to think of a moment when I realized that the opinions of others don't have to mean anything to me: I remember talking to one such "friend" and seeing the look in their eyes as they reacted to me saying that I didn't want to pursue IVF and I would rather adopt (this is getting heavy y'all). She was disgusted and in that moment I realized that I didn't need her to agree with me, or to empathize with me because I sensed that she wasn't strong enough to put herself aside for me and support me. And thats ok, I took her judgment and I totally disregarded it, now when I see her face in my minds eye it makes me chuckle, no feelings are evoked. Right then and there I knew that I didn't care one shit floating in space what her opinion was. It was liberating! I wish I could burn this feeling into everyone so they could realize that expressing a deep part of yourself (like when you show your art or your creations) is for you and to just feel confident in your choices regardless of the noise of judgment from sources you disagree with anyway! Also this proves that practice makes perfect. Get judged a couple of times, and get past it!