RIP creative heart

I recently had the most complete draining of my creative energy, my spirit. It was an unfortunate result of my sorority and the demands they place on their members. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that these requirements often make a lot of people more responsible, involved in their respective communities, and overall allow for growth. In my case, I am drained. I’m a senior and my work is suffering. 

I awoke today with a bitterness in my heart.

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It’s my fault because I didn’t read the announcement properly or something but I had it in my heart that I would be able to go alum early and it seems that is no longer the case. Which fucking sucks because I hadn’t realized how much of my mind had been set on the freedom I would soon experience. There is no way that I can continue being involved in this organization and still be able to create without this sort of negativity over my shoulder.

I feel it whenever I listen to anyone talk about their work or when I feel the pressure of deadlines. I need out. I’m suffocating and I need the fuck out.

It’s funny because when I got the email about going alum, the president’s phrasing was such that “I had not served my full four years” which I thought sounded like a contract for enlisted soldiers or a prison sentence. Either way, I’m definitely a prisoner in a voluntary placement.

I can’t drop because I’ve invested way too much time and I need the resume items I’ve accrued. I need the stupid accolades and the embroidery on my sash when I graduate. I don’t have anything else on my grad school application. I’m out of options. Send help please. 

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It’s taken me a year but I think I’m finally understanding why I stayed in my sorority. Like most things, the benefits of a decision don’t usually reveal themselves until the end. Since I’m at the halfway point – I go alum in Spring- I’ve been weirdly sentimental lately. All this talk at recruitment practice has reminded me of the way I felt before I joined. It reminded me of all the reasons I was seeking strong female bonds.

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People will say that it’s all fake and that we’re paying for friendships. On some level, there’s truth to that. But I guess it’s kind of like being in college and then paying to go to an all girl’s school at the same time. There are events, sports, uniforms, rules, bitchy people, drama. But there’s also a deep understanding that everyone is there for the same reason: to be a part of something. Even if that something doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, embracing the present is no less valuable than working towards something bigger.

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My sorority has taught me what I stand for, who I am. Most of the time, I feel like I only discover these things when I’m being pulled against my core beliefs. I’ve learned that I am kinder than I thought. I only saw this when people weren’t kind to me. I have learned that I am trustworthy and a pretty damn good secret-keeper. I saw this when people talked shit, or revealed things about themselves. I didn’t reciprocate. I learned that I am capable of being overwhelmed by other peoples’ emotions. I learned this when I became consumed by negativity because of the chatter of complaints around me. I learned that I have more courage than most people. I’ve only ever witnessed this in terms of male relationships and once I saw this in a group setting, I realized I do speak up for what I believe in. I learned that I won’t speak up when it’s something petty and will be sorted by someone else. I learned that I naturally delegate tasks through subtle suggestion, not coercion. I learned that I do not naturally give trust easily. I knew this before, but even after a year of being surrounded by these women, I am only just beginning to feel like I can let go of some of my defenses.

Let-Go

I needed to write this so that one day when I look back and think, ‘damn that was a waste of time’ or ‘thank god it’s over’, I will also remember all the good stuff that came out of it. I am no longer afraid of women. I am no longer afraid to paint. I am worthy of meaningful relationships and I am worthy because I have witnessed those who I deem unfit, receive the gift of friendship even when they shouldn’t. I am no better and no worse.

The human condition dictates that humans crave comfort and love. The fear of being alone is so strong, we work to find peace so that we don’t have to feel that way. I know these are random thoughts, but I can feel time slipping by so quickly and I’m a senior this year and totally terrified of graduation so I can say without a doubt, I made the right choice. I picked the right house. I found my home.

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How did I miss this?!

I’ve just come out of my religious studies class with a weird epiphany about my life and artistic process. My brain has been sort of hinting at the absence of my academic classes and the sense of satisfaction I get when I write essays that prove arguments or explore grand concepts. I love conceptual thinking that’s built up with evidence. I even like conceptual thinking that’s based in supernatural evidence, what some scholars term “sketchy”. Ultimately, the overlap is there within the foundation.

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My favorite element across all artistic mediums is contrast. I love contrast. Maybe that establishes itself in the physical contrast of the work, or maybe the way the light hits a sculpture at a specific time of day or maybe there’s something else there in terms of color and that just hits me because that sensational pop against my mind makes me feel something deep. I’m not sure yet.

What I’m realizing is that i need to be in a field of work that allows me to explore conceptual contrasts and reaffirm different ideas through writing and research. I crave research like water. The problem solving I experience through writing and essays is akin to the feeling of figuring out which color to use within a painting or ceramic glaze. It’s equally as satisfying. Psychologists refer to this feeling as “flow”. My flow lives in conceptual problem solving.

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I loved writing my essay on Cindy Sherman and I’m so stoked to write my fifteen page research paper contrasting buddhist ideals. I’m sort of dying to figure out the rest of my painting. I have no idea how I’m going to do on my history midterm Tuesday but the immense satisfaction that just began flowing through me has put me over the moon. This is the first time since my disengagement with photography that I’ve felt similarly stimulated and profoundly grateful. This feeling. This feeling right now is what I live for.

2:28am

Obligations
Affiliations
Incarceration
Connotation
Bureaucracy and blurred red lines
Sharpness of indecency
I hate this need to fight authority
My stupid desire to break the rules
Has more power over me than I do
This strange contradiction
Fuels my conviction
And I’m faced over and over
The whisper of memories fade
Replaced by rage
I’m not angry

My neck keeps shaking
My Russian teachers always made me cry

I hated bending and twirling
As long as they were there
I knew only good and bad
No compromise

I’m so very clearly there
Pick and choose the parts that make sense
My family says it’s easier to digest
I’m not craving
The Buddha says
But his golden body glows
I’ll swipe green across canvas
And spend hours on circles and spirals and waves
Tiny little pencil marks
One thing out of place
Daylight balance, warm tone, cool
Wipe clean the rules

In a field where the human condition
Is the one and only true theme,
Why did I stick myself in a place
Where identity is destroyed
And smiles quickly employed
And evil ovals stare at me
Across the plastic tables
“Not excused, sorry but that doesn’t count, you’ll still have to pay”
Okay.

2:17am

As I struggle with my own identity over the last few months, I realize that I was so frustrated by being marginalized with my community. People kept seeing me as a person I didn’t associate with directly. I thought sure, maybe there is some overlap but that’s not representative of me completely; there’s more than meets the eye. I realize now that being marginalized is actually way better because it allows me to remain somewhat out of reach. I can pick and choose which part of my community I associate with and which part I don’t. It’s nice because it’s safer there. I have more freedom to flow freely between circles. There is no group with one claim on me. That’s a double edged sword sometimes because it means I hear about things late sometimes but I make an in impression on people so there’s always someone who remembers. In many ways, it’s that same alienation that allows me to stand out. I think it’s silly that this all occurs to me as I’m browsing on amazon for a laptop cover. As a student, it’s those choices that will define how my friends and peers see me. Do I choose to blend in, or stand out? Or is it more so a question of accepting who I’m already perceived to be?

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9/19/15 (#2)

I write this as I sit in the parking lot waiting to walk inside to quit my job. I want to remember the disdain my subconscious has for this place. It has become my personal prison; ironically, the very subject of most of my own work.

This place drains me of the creative freedom I once experienced on a daily basis. Instead of finding the daily projects and questions an escape from my own worldly issues, I’ve found it drives me further away from the place I need to be.

I need to be focusing and creating and experimenting and instead all I’ve been doing is routine and it drives me fucking crazy. The thoughts I’ve had over the last week shock me.

I have thought of more ways to insert Popsicle sticks into people’s bodies than I ever thought possible. What type of stretcher bars would be most appropriate to bludgeon someone with, the kinds of brushes that would do the most harm if I stabbed someone in the eyes. I’ve thought of throwing turpentine on people and whacking them repeatedly with oil pastels and paint tubes. And then comes the creative ways I’ve thought I could have myself fired.

I’ve dreamt of streaking mid shift down the middle of the aisles as if nothing was wrong, I could pee In front of a customer, I could take the money out of the registers and throw it in the air yelling “free money free paint!” I could just knock everything off the shelves or intricately carve out “fuck you” with the pieces of balsa wood we have for sale. The xacto aisle is dangerous, there are so many little triangles and blades. I’ve thought of just flooding the backroom or even setting people’s hair on fire.

I am so angry that I have to spend my days inside, aching now that I have RA. I spend more money on food than I ever have in my life because I can’t eat anything close by and whole foods is expensive and yet my only option. I’m rushing around on others people’s time schedules and hating myself.

I can’t tell anyone I love my boyfriend because he’s my manager and also the most wonderful human being. It would be my luck that I go and meet the dream guy but have to lie about it for months.

I am psychologically and physically drained and I hate myself and everyone around me and it needs to stop. So I’m going in to give my two weeks and that’ll be the end of that blip in the road. Like sand slipping through my fingers, I watch as one door closes and another opens; aka my freedom.

9/19/15

I struggle assimilating into female culture. I struggle assimilating with people my age. So far there’s a lot of struggle with friends. I do have friends, don’t be confused but I’m not sure how to make new ones without a common interest.

There are girls who have no trouble

As soon as I find someone on the same maturity level, I find out they’re w

Rumi always taught me to break things down

Do I pick male relationships and friendships because I know they will end? Is it some form of self destruction? Is it to punish myself, ensuring that eventually they either fade away or destroy me, so that I’m stuck in a constant cycle of grieving? Is it that I am obsessed with feeling pain or going totally numb?

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I have lately been trying to cultivate my female friendships. This sorority has opened up doors for me in a way I never knew or thought possible. Everyday that I talk to a sister, I realize I’m missing the guidebook that most girls learn throughout their lives. I think that scares me. I always keep everyone at arms length. I do my best to be authentic and genuine but sometimes its necessary to smile and nod with everyone else because their nuances I don’t understand yet.

I find that when I choose a male friend, I already know what kind of personality they have from the moment I decide to invest energy in that relationship. When I find a female friend, I stand guarded, as if preparing for battle. I can feel this rustle of dragon armor, alerted by any possible action out of place.

I think that’s why I’ve avoided them for so long.

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It only just dawned on me that it’s not that women aren’t good friends and I’m saving myself from inevitable pain. Female friendships are potentially lifelong in a way that scares me. I’ve only ever had lifelong friends in family members. Except for the occasional boyfriend, I’ve only ever left myself raw with my sister.

I had one best friend in high school that was a girl. We were so close it was like family. I never worried about judgement or anything like that because we were so open with each other, we had no fear. And then something changed, I think it was just a natural progression of growing up, and I never really got over the idea that every future girlfriend would be some sort of backstabber or painful enemy. Weirder still as that even that specific best friend and I never really stabbed each other in the back, we just went our separate ways.

I know how to deal with break ups on some level. I’ve never dealt with any intensely long term ones but the few men I’ve loved, I’ve loved more deeply than I think I’ve let myself feel for my friends. It’s like wild abandon when I fall in love, both freeing and unbelievably merciless. It may be cheesy but it’s totally like the buildup before a roller coaster. My heart unfolds like a lotus releasing water and slowly builds up to a strong exterior.

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It’s like I decide to let all the men I love be the ones with the power to heal me. In the end they’re the only ones I let in. And for the longest time I had always chalked it up to mommy issues and even though that may be true, is that the whole truth? Have I been slowly convincing myself that I should live alone quietly just to avoid peace and happiness? I definitely hesitate more when I think about going out with girlfriends one on one. My first thought is always, what will we have to talk about? What if they don’t like me? What if I say something stupid or there’s a lull in the conversation? What joke will I make then?

My last relationship was a doozy. But it also taught me a lot about dealing with manipulative people and so for that, I am grateful to have felt the pain. But what about with women? I’ve had girlfriends in most of my life and while we weren’t exactly sisters, we got pretty close. And then something would happen, so and so talked crap about this or blah blah hooked up with this guy and people would disappear and it felt petty but I’m realizing slowly, that stuff does matter. It’s important to know where your loyalties should lie and it’s important to also build up those kinds of skills in yourself. I thought they were petty because I’ve always been a fiercely loyal person, except I’ve made mistakes in the past too and people learn at different paces.

So then I realize that my role in most relationships has been “the mother”. Which is definitely something I’ve been working on. I do not wish to mother anymore. So if I can’t mother, what the hell do I do? What other role is there?

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I don’t even know what positions to apply for. I think back on qualities of friends I’ve observed and I get most of my information from books and movies. I observe as much as I can in real life situations but it doesn’t always apply because I haven’t memorized the moves yet.

I have a friend I want to let in. She’s the most terrifying adventure on the horizon. It’s so silly but I can feel it, we could be friends for a ridiculously long time. Like really, really good friends. So why does that scare me so much?

It’s taken me several months of dipping my feet in the pool to prepare myself to jump in. I’ve set it up next semester so that I’m hugely involved in all of the events and I’ve joined this suicide prevention organization that will be working on campus too to help remove the stigma associated with depression. This means lots of working one on one with feelings and listening and lots of sisterhood commitments. I’m taking Tai Chi right afterwards and I feel like that’s going to be my favorite class. I know that all of this will work its way out and I can feel time slowly peeling off layers on my exterior. I always thought you had to heal something from the inside out for it to feel better. I think I really needed to do that for a while. Now, I’m going to try something different.

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