How I’ve been feeling about my art:
I’ve created many things, but I’ve never shown much of it. I’ve always kept it under wraps thinking that there could be a better way to show it, or a better time. I’ve been doing this for many years, and though it can feel quite rational in the beginning, keeping all this art tucked away can start eating away at your soul. Whether it be paint on canvas or words on paper, art is a means of expressing yourself, and if your art is never set free, you can never be set free.
It’s like if you really love someone, but you never tell this person how you feel. You see her everyday, but you keep waiting and thinking of a better way to confess your love. You live a life of self-censorship full of hesitancy, stuttering and half steps, when what you need to do is to climb up to the highest mountain, scream at the top of your lungs and tell the whole world how much you love her. Why is it so hard to express ourselves?
This fear of true self-expression comes from the immense pressure we feel on the day-to-day basis to appear perfect at all times for the sake of public approval. All our attention is focused on the outside world and you must put on a mask of perfection and act as if your life is flawless (hence the selfies showing how awesome our lives are. #iwokeuplikethis). While you may gain popularity by maintaining this façade, it comes at a high cost. We must hide anything about ourselves that others might not like. We start hiding from ourselves, and ultimately, we end up losing who we are as individuals.
As an artist, you must admit to yourself who you really are. It is one of the scariest things you can do, but also the one thing that will bring you the most joy. You must get out of your comfort zone and confront your fears. Who are you, really? It will be difficult because answering this question will not only conflict with the perfect image you have built for others, but also because it forces you to come face to face with the inner self that you have been hiding from all these years. You must stop neglecting the less-than-perfect aspects of your identity, and accept yourself as who you really are — as opposed to who you think you ought to be. When you are connected with your true self, you finally get to express yourself in a way that is genuine and truthful. The parts of you that are usually silenced and hidden away for fear of criticism and embarrassment finally have a way out, regardless of what others think. You can finally let yourself be seen.
When you have the courage to show your true self, your life’s work now has the opportunity to live a life of its own. It is no longer just yours. It now belongs to a larger audience: the world. No more hesitation. No more weight on your shoulders. No more words left unsaid. Your work is out there. Your love is out there. And that’s all you can really ever do. Create your best, most honest work from your heart, and let it be known. What happens next? I have no idea, but at least this way you can stop hiding from yourself and pretending you have your shit together all the time. Most people don’t. When you take off your mask of perfection, speak from your heart and allow yourself to be vulnerable, you get to be human again.
And in that moment, you are free.
by Jason Lam