The Art of Being You
I used to take art lessons as a child and stopped in my early teenage years. The result of my 2 to 3 years of lessons was a public exhibition of what I created at the most advanced stage of my learning. I am now in awe of my oil paintings which are hung beautifully in my Cleveland home. I pride myself on calling myself an artist: I used to paint, I write, and I sing (in the bathroom).
Is it just me or does the title artist have a cool ring to it? We generally refer to someone as an ‘artist’ when they know how to create of something, when someone has a skill to do something that requires a bit of imagination. I think everyone is an artist in their own right. At an early age we learn to mask our emotions, hide behind our feelings, and plug our sentiments for propriety. In tandem we learn to fake our smiles, make sham emotions, and invent reactions to please others.
There always seem to be those moments where showing our real emotion is inappropriate, but have we faked ourselves into feeling something we do not? If there is a need to hide our emotions for propriety, do we know when we needn’t hide our emotion? Culturally people have mastered the art of being themselves by becoming situation chameleons.
The beauty of art is that we can manipulate the canvas, notes, or words to elicit the emotion that we want. Essentially when an artist constructs, composes, or otherwise forms a creation they have the liberty to build and rebuild based on their mood and the mood they hope to elicit. How is this different from what we do on a daily basis?
Our faces have become a canvas on which we paint smiles, tears, creases of concern, and frowns based on propriety, pleasing others, or for leverage. It seems as though we have for so long become attuned to masking our emotions and hiding our true feelings that now we are grasp at moments that will allow us to feel a trickle of genuine emotion.
I have learned not to cry even when my heart strings are pulled. I have learned to smile even if I am sad. There is a Jamaican quote that is applicable, ‘we laugh to hide our tears.’ This sounds like a sentimental exaggeration, but unfortunately it is true.
For so long we have disguised our feelings into something more appropriate and pleasing that I wonder if we can recognize and cope with our raw emotion. Our ability to express our emotions seems constrained at best and our need to feel passionate about anything is inadequate at best. When I was young I started to write poetry and was able to I retain my interest until my college years, and this helped me stay attuned to my emotions, but as we combat adulthood the stings of emotional attunement become looser. Work, family, and sense of propriety all combine to form a semipermeable barrier between our emotions and exhibition of them.
There are indeed times when are unable to portray what we are really feeling, but we have allowed these times to reign over and decide how and when to show emotion. As an exercise I invite you spend 5 minutes everyday feeling your emotion. Cry out your tears, laugh out your smiles, and scream out your frustration.
When we can truly feel ourselves our person hood no longer has to be an art. Our emotions represent our natural bodies. Over the years we have been taught to shy away from our emotions and instead rationalize, analyze, or mask our feelings away. This exercise serves as a catharsis and let’s us feel a raw emotion that we have forgotten how to feel over the years.
I impel you to stop camouflaging what makes you unique and start coloring your emotions again with vibrant hues. If we can live and feel our true emotions for a few minutes each day, we will become more attuned to our core and start to understand and thereby grow from our insecurities, sadness, and hesitations.