Savannah and Charleston have been exactly as I expected, wonderful and beautiful. I can't get over how at home I feel here. I am convinced that there is something in my biological, emotional and spiritual makeup that resonates with this location. It's a good thing too, because I've been fighting a bit of a battle within myself since I arrived. I've experienced the kind of self-doubt and fear that I always do when I'm writing. I don't know at what point in my life I heard (either from someone else or myself) that I wasn't smart or good enough to write anything of value, but it has been stuck in my head for a long time. Ironically, I can remember when I first went back to school in 2004 that I thought I was doing a great job. So it's been sometime since then...maybe when I entered graduate school.
Having come to art a little late in life, I felt behind when I compared myself to my other friends in class. They all sounded so smart and their vocabulary had me writing words down in the margin of my notes and looking them up when I was out of their sight. Terms such as "hegemonic" or "ontological." What? Haha! But instead of being excited about learning new things, I was intimidated. This is a problem. It's not how it's supposed to be! I had the best teachers and they weren't the ones who were telling me I couldn't do this. In fact, they have done nothing but the opposite, but I have told myself that I wasn't up to snuff with the rest of the students. NOT TRUE!!!! (And it wasn't the other students who were sending this message to me either. They have been great! In fact, I feel so grateful for the kind of support we've given to each other...and the friendships that have come out of it all.)
I think we can be our own worst enemies and that's sad. So today, I replace old mantras of "I can't do this" with "I CAN do this." I AM doing this! I've been given the opportunity to study something I love and to live in a place that I love. My words have value and my ideas are worth expressing. I love myself and all that I have to give to this world. Nobody else has what I have inside me and nobody else can do what I can do, because nobody else is me.
I know, without a doubt, that my greatest gifts to give this world are love, kindness and strength. Without loving and believing in myself, I am hindering the fullness of those gifts and I don't want to do that anymore. So anyone out there who thinks that they need to tell me that they have doubts or worries about my ability or work ethic can just keep that to themselves. I've heard enough of that...from my own voice and yours. And if I'm going to squelch that inside me, you need to do the same. I won't listen to you anymore, anyway, because there are plenty of people who have shown me the opposite.
The message I want to give to those who have expressed concern for my ability and work ethic (and to myself when I'm weak) is this. You have no idea how destructive and detrimental you've been to me. It's as if you and I, combined, took a week of this experience away from me. I know full and well that it has been my choice to hang on to those words and let them sink in, but I'm letting them go now. All I need from you is support and encouragement...even if you don't feel that way. Don't give me your worry or concern. If you really want to give me something that will help, give me good energy and words saying, "I know you can do this," Because I can do this. I am doing this. And in reality, what you're projecting on to me is your own fear for yourself. You never learned how to overcome the belief that you had to worry about things in order to get them done. Let me enjoy my own process and let me find wonder and beauty in all of the discoveries I'm making right now because they are changing me for the better and I know that it will translate into good things in my work.