“Wear your stripes proudly, my fellow zebras. Embrace what makes you different. Own what sets you apart. It’s not a weakness, and its just as beautiful. Believe in your stripes, slay that insecurity demon and feeling of inadequacy, and you just might find that the mustangs around you aren’t running away, but are instead running with you.”
Great, right? She’s a fabulous writer and editor, though she’ll claim she’s a better editor than writer.
I got a little choked up when I read her post, especially that quote.
I constantly struggle with the self-doubt demon. I’m not good enough, will never be good enough. Because of these thoughts, I’ve fought depression, and anxiety visits me every now and then.
In my worry and fear of failure, I forget to recognize that all the qualities that make me ME, that make me different, are reasons to celebrate.
Here I am. A writer. Admitting that is difficult. Writing that is difficult. Saying it is difficult. Because I’m not sure I believe it. I don’t think I ever will. I never set out to be a writer. It never crossed my mind until I was 31 years old.
I was an artist. As a kid, I drew, always. My art teachers encouraged me, said I had talent. This I believed.
I went to college for an art degree (though my mom nearly had a heart attack at this). I studied the fine arts, because illustrations with a unique artistic view would be cool. If I could find my own style, push myself to be an artist, then translate that into illustrations, that would be awesome! I would be happy.
However, in those classes, I wasn’t happy. I went from the best art student in high school to just some goober in college, a kid who knew nothing of art. When my painting teacher discovered that I wanted to be an illustrator, he told me that illustration is NOT fine art, that maybe I was in the wrong place. I panicked. I floundered in my classes, not having a clue what to do… not having a clue who I was as an artist (or a person). But I stuck it out. My teacher continued to preach that we should all go on to the MFA program to go on to show our work at galleries. All the while, I screamed silently. I had no desire to see my pictures hanging on some sterile white wall with people discussing them. I wanted to help tell stories. I wanted to add line and color to words to add to the worlds that existed in books.
When I look back, I can see the writer hiding inside of me.
~So many of my former sketches are characters. I not only drew them, but filled the edges of the page with words about who they are and where they live. Other drawings are scenes from stories that I had in my head. Stories spun through my head all the time, and I acknowledged them with art. I’ve been told my writing is visual, that people were not surprised to learn I was an artist.
~I’ve always been more of a sit in the corner and watch kind of person. I’ve always looked for all the strange things in life, noticing every detail from the subtle changes in the leaves in the fall to the way clouds can form messages in the sky. Go figure detail is one of my writerly “things”. I usually end up with too much and when I critique others’ work, I ask for MORE DETAIL!
~Depression has made me face the darker sides of the human mind and showed me the depth of emotions we are capable of. I like horror. I like to explore the darker side of our personalities, of the world. The darkness that clouds my mind allows me to do this. So, although it sucks, I wouldn’t erase the shadows in my head.
I did not come at writing by the “normal” route. That’s what makes my writing unique, makes it mine. Our lives, our experiences make us who we are and lead us to where we need to be, all the while painting us with lines of individuality, filling in our unfinished places with color to make us each works of art.
We should all go out into the world confident in our place, in our colors. When I look at my stripes, REALLY look at them, they are beautiful.
So are yours.