I haven’t written in a while because I could cry of the boredom I feel when I think of simply writing about my studying abroad experience in Spain as a diary about the food, the friends, the places. Simply writing about my external experiences would be to sit and write about the excitement of the wrapping paper without ever describing the gift within. My experiences here are swallowed up as I delve into what is beneath their physical state. The beauty I see, the people I meet, the places I go, the food I eat, are simply the physical manifestations of the inward journey of my soul. They are the doorways to a different type of destination.
I’ve always been one to live in my head no matter where I am. You could take me to any continent and my eyes would still wander from what’s in front of me and focus on the clouds, the moon and stars, the trees. Long ago this birthed an eternal inner dialogue between God and me, and in this place where I forget I am more than just spirit, I’m met with thoughts of the paradoxes of the universe, of time, of death, of resurrection. Eternity. Thus the external opens a door to for my mind to wander and there I find countless lessons on life, love, joy, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion.
My journey here in Spain is viewed through this lens–that of my spiritual growth and inner reflections. These are the things that truly inspire me but I never felt were the “right” thing to write about, and because I couldn’t muster up the energy to write about things I thought readers would enjoy I simply stopped writing.
But I must write, even if solely for the purpose of being able to read this years from now–but if I am to write, I must write about other things. I must write about the things that truly move and inspire me.Why turn away from my own flame which I’ve been tending to, to labor uninterestedly in building a bonfire for others? I must tend to my passion, the rest, the things I think I ought to do for others’ approval will simply have to wait–maybe till another lifetime.
I’be stopped drawing because I’ve been too scared I won’t be able to create anything like I’ve created before and I’ll just be massively disappointed. This also happens to me with academic writing. It keeps me talking about my paper without writing anything. Each time I keep myself from starting bc I’m so scared to find out this is the time I won’t succeed. It’s a miracle I ever turn in any of my papers.
Somehow, even with proof of what I’ve been able to accomplish before, I never trust or believe that I’ll be able to do it again. I feel like a fraud. Like all this “talent” could just one day disappear leaving me without any explanation of how I ever did anything in the first place. Maybe it’s low self esteem, maybe it’s a lack of faith in myself, I don’t know..Even once I’ve created something I feel an extreme detachment from it as if I wasn’t the one who created it. This detachment feeds into the cycle of not thinking I’ll be able to do it again. It drives me insane. I can’t remember a time I didn’t feel this way. But I just want to believe in myself..stop doubting my abilities..
but I don’t know how and it’s eating me alive.
I yearn to create.
But a tug of war
Between my fear
And my inspiration
Is taking place over my pen.
I command myself to draw
But either my mind
Or my body betrays me
And my hand remains paralyzed
over a blank sheet of paper
My heart twists in agony
Begging me to move
But all I can do is stare
At this nightmare of
Visible, tangible, measurable failure
Being vividly projected by my mind
Over this still blank sheet of paper.
Tonight I cannot draw.
So I crawl into the arms of words
Who soothes and cradles me
As she unbiasedly paints
My strength and weakness
Beauty and tragedy
Life and death
and fills with letters
This once blank sheet of paper.
I woke up 10 minutes before my only class this morning. I left my dorm in a panicked rush completely forgot to read my morning devotional. After class, and about 1/3 into this drawing, I remembered and took the time to read it. And even with my tardiness in spending time with God, He as always showed up right on time giving me exactly the words of encouragement I needed. The first paragraph of today’s”21 Days of Powerful Breakthroughs” began as follows:
Whatever it is you are hoping and expecting, it is important to be prepared for it. How can you say, one day I will do this or that, but are lacking to put yourself in a position to be able to receive it? In Jeremiah 31:17, God says there is hope in your future. This lets us know the very thing you are hoping shall come to pass.
I know God sees that my heart is full of so many dreams and desires for my art. He’s also already seen every drawing that will find its way into my sketch book and knows exactly what role art will ultimately play in my future. Today’s devotional paired with taking time each day to draw, despite facing challenges, helped me to know that I’m doing my part to prepare myself for what God is sending my way in response to my prayers.
I’ve never been one to continue something I’m not immediately good at, or one to complete something if I don’t like how it’s turning out about halfway through. I guess people would call that being a quitter (they’re not wrong.) Growing up I always felt that if I couldn’t see myself excelling or being the best one doing something, that it wasn’t worth my effort to finish, and when it came to me sensing I was about to fail, I always felt I’d rather fail because I didn’t try, rather than try my hardest and still fail. Undeniably a toxic mentality. A mentality that will keep you unbothered and stagnant. A mentality that will rob you of every possible success in order to avoid failure. But this is a year of actively fighting the shadow side of my type 4 personality and challenging my beliefs about the way I do or don’t do things. This drawing, though I’m not proud of its final form, is symbolic of my attempt to do just that–to grow as a person, to quit quitting, to finish what I’ve set out to complete with the same energy I had when I first started. Here’s to finishing.
I was hardly 15 minutes into this drawing and I was already feeling myself panic. My mind was doing it again, endlessly criticizing.. calling me out on how messy the lines were, how the the dimensions, proportions, and perspective of the buildings were completely off, how it was nowhere as beautiful as my reference picture. That it wasn’t worth finishing because it wouldn’t turn out good.. how could it? There was no coming back from all the mistakes glaring back at me in dark black ink.
You can’t go back..YOU HAVE TO START OVER. If you start over, you can do it better, be more meticulous, more precise, be perfect! This isn’t good enough…I mean just look at it! It’s awful!
Then, out of nowhere, came a brilliantly rebellious thought. I could almost imagine her devilish grin as she urged me to completely ignore the other voices by saying:
I dare you to finish it.. I dare you to finish it just to see how it turns out.
It was as if she knew something the other voices didn’t or saw something still hidden to my present self. I don’t know what it was but I listened. Every additional line I added was in outright defiance to my mind’s legion of critiquing voices.
By the time I finished all the voices were in silent awe. They knew it was good.
My Rebel Thought and I grinned.
It was good. Really good.
I give you permission to not be perfect. I give you permission to bend without breaking. I give you permission to draw simply for yourself, and I give you permission to be proud of it, even if it doesn’t compare to the image in your head. I give you permission to completely surprise yourself by what you create because you have let go of all expectations for it. I give you permission to embrace your accidents and mistakes as unique signatures of your art. I give you permission to Create without being overwhelmed by what you see. I free you to be the artist you’ve always dreamed of becoming. Messy. Unique. Gifted. Extraordinary. Driven. Successful. Full of undiscovered potential that you continuously find within yourself.
Te doy permiso para no ser perfecta. Te doy permiso para doblarte sin romper. Te doy permiso para dibujar simplemente por ti misma, y te doy permiso para estar orgullosa de ello incluso si no se compara con la imagen en tu cabeza. Te doy permiso para que te sorprendas completamente con lo que creas porque has dejado de lado todas las expectativas. Te doy permiso para aceptar tus errores y accidentes como firmas únicas de tu arte. Te doy permiso para crear sin ser abrumada por lo que ves. Te libero para ser la artista que siempre has soñado ser. Impulsiva. Única. Dotada. Extraordinaria. Impulsada. Exitosa. Llena de potencial todavía descubierto que continuamente encuentras dentro de ti.
Over the last 2 weeks I’ve been in Spain, my “Spain Art Inspo” board on Pinterest has accumulated 93 pins, but up until 2 days ago, my new sketch book, which was supposed to be filling up with my own art, remained untouched. I’d been to Valencia a few times since arriving and had a few pictures that I really liked, but I was utterly overwhelmed by the detailed architecture, especially since I’ve never focused on drawing buildings. Growing up I focused more on drawing/painting landscapes, faces, hands etc. anything naturally containing flaws, and I subconsciously steered clear from drawing buildings or anything requiring too much precision and symmetry. In my eyes drawing buildings demanded and even more extreme type of the perfectionist mentality that already caused me so much anxiety during my creative process. Nevertheless, I knew that despite my anxiety, I had to respond to the call of inspiration coming from the beautiful architecture in Spain. Before yesterday, I finally mustered enough courage to simply go for it. I gave myself 10 minute intervals to draw as much as possible simply to make it more fun and to prevent myself from trying to be too meticulously detailed. Although I wanted to commit to drawing in ink, it seemed too daunting so I allowed myself to use a pencil and eraser. Baby steps right? After three ten-minute-intervals, I discovered the secret to a joy for sketching I had always felt I lacked when I did it as a child. It was no longer about having the best most perfectly detailed drawing, but simply about challenging myself to do my best, have fun, and finally.. FINALLY allowing myself the freedom to embrace both talent and mistakes as equally welcomed collaborators in my art.
Image: Leo Molina – Compañía de Baile Flamenco performance
Quiero abrir la jaula
que encierra mi alma
cerrar mis ojos y bailar.
Hasta que el temblar de mi corazón
Se convierta en
tambaleo de cuerpo
Hasta que mi timidez y vergüenza
Se la trague el tempo
Hasta que mi espíritu tan inseguro
de pasos alegres y al tiempo
Hasta que mi ser con tanta riza
quede lagrimeando y sin aliento
Hasta que nada toque mi alegría
Mientras bailo con el sol y el viento
Yesterday, on my second day of studying abroad, I took my first Flamenco class, a traditional dance of Spain. I’ve never felt so free to mess up, laugh at myself, and try again. I left the class wishing to be able take that kind of ease into every aspect of my life…
Jet lag is finally hitting me and I’ve been waking up between 3-6 in the morning, unable to fall back asleep. Today I awoke with pressing questions about how many hours I needed to graduate and thoughts of a boy back at home that has been the reason for so many sleepless nights even back in the U.S..
I texted my professor asking about my hours knowing that even though it was early the next day in Spain, it was probably still relatively early in the afternoon in Alabama. She asked me if I needed the information immediately and jokingly rolled her eyes at me when I told her that it was actually 3am for me. Her final response, “Blog. Haha!”.
I wanted to go back to sleep, not because I was tired but because it was 3 in the morning but even with my eyes closed I was restless with thoughts and questions and deep desire to tap into the joy I felt while dancing earlier the previous day.
I began writing a poem in English peppered with phrases in Spanish which I would cut and paste at the end of my notes to save for another poem. However, the words didn’t flow properly in English so I translated a bit of what I had into Spanish and finally the poem spilled out, breaking through the barrier English had posed on my ability to write.
I was thoroughly happy (and quite impressed) at the fact that I had written my first poem in Spanish ever and that it felt so incredibly natural and almost easy. Desperate to relish in the creative flow, I translated the poem to English, and let my soul continue dancing.
I want to open the cage
Which has enclosed my soul
Close my eyes and dance
Till the shaking of my soul
Becomes a rhythmic sway of body
Till my shyness and embarrassment
Is swallowed whole by an allegro tempo
Till my spirit, so insecure
Gives quick easy steps to the beat
Till my whole being
with so much laughter
Is left teary eyed with glee
Till nothing touches my joy
While I dance with the sun and the wind