On not conforming and why you should really pay attention to that weird kid staring at you
You know that kid who’s always the center of attention and can naturally make a room come alive? Yeah, that was not me.
I was the quiet one. The one nobody noticed - unless there was some kind of sporting event that I was forced to participate and would eventually screw up. Then that kid I mentioned before would notice me. But that wasn't much fun, so in general I preferred being invisible. And I did a pretty good job at it, if you ask me. So much so, that I continued that pattern throughout most of my adulthood. That until I finally figured out how much that sucked.
But the thing about being invisible is that you get to watch people… A LOT. I mean, what else are you supposed to do? Now, before you start thinking I'm some kind of creep, let me assure you that I actually put that skill to good use. During my time as a wallflower I got to see the best and the worst in people and they were both fascinating to me. I became pretty good at reading people and it's actually what got me into art.
Of course my life would have been much easier if people had actually noticed me. Or had been nicer to me. Well, that and being good at sports - I swear, till this day I’ll either dodge or protect my face whenever I see a ball coming in my direction. But in general, that was a pretty good perk. It allowed me to look at people and really see them
And the real human being behind the mask? Pure gold.
It’s that inexplicable thing that draws us to certain people. And they are not necessarily the loudest ones in the room. It's a subtle trait. It’s the way you sigh after a ravishing childhood memory comes rushing in in the middle of a tedious three o’clock team meeting, and you can even smell the honey suckle scent of your favorite hiding place. Or when you catch yourself lost in thoughts in the middle of some mindless chit chat with some random colleagues at a company retreat party. And you suddenly feel like you’ve been transported to another time and place. Or when you’re alone folding laundry in your basement thinking of absolutely nothing. You’re not forcing a smile, you’re not trying to be nice or please anyone. You’re just you.
And that’s when you really are at your most beautiful.
When you take off the armor and let your guard down. When you’re the real you, one the many layers of you. Regardless of where you are or who you’re with.
But these days it seems like we’re all running around in some kind of mad competition to see who’s best. Who’s got the best (whatever it is that people are talking about on Facebook lately), or our latest amazing trip to (whatever hip destination kids are heading to these days) or how perfect our lives are (you’re supposed to have it all, didn’t you know?).
And this cold war?
It leaves us depleted. Mostly because it’s freaking impossible to have it all, and faking it is exhausting. So we create a culture of shallow. Shallow relationships, shallow work, shallow caring, shallow hearts. It’s funny how we expect to be loved. Yet, we numb ourselves.
It seems like we’re all trying to be like everyone else. But the truth is: being like everyone else is boring. And we don’t really want to fit in. We want to belong.
And that translates to how we live our lives. We want to belong. We want to be seen, to feel seen. But we end up trying to dress, act and live our lives like everyone else.
And the same goes for art. Of course there are times when you just want something pretty, or something that will go with your couch. And there is certainly a time and place for those things as well, but what I’m talking about here goes beyond that. It’s craving something different. It’s that thing that touches you, that makes you feel something. You don’t have to rationalize it, you don’t have to put words to it. You just feel it. And that's what makes a painting good. And quite frankly, it’s what makes a person good.
|So, why not break away from the norm? Why not choose to be you? The unabashed, unapologetic you|
We can all choose to live more truthful, fulfilling lives.
Me? I’m starting with my paintings. I paint my own truth. The way I see truth. The fleeting moments of truth. And I choose not to apologize for it anymore. I choose not to hide anymore. Because the truth is: being a wallflower was what brought me here, but I’m much more than that. This is who I am. And I’m not apologizing for it anymore.