There comes a time in your life when you need to take stock of things. Are you really where you want to be? Is your life following a path closely matched to your values? Actually what are your values? Are they the same as they used to be? Are you doing what you have always wanted to do? Are you wanting? Are you listening to that little voice?
I’ve been stuck a long time. Or maybe I’ve always been. But it’s twisted into a kind of existential crisis in the last few years. I’ve started to know what I don’t want, but that isn’t the best way to define you’re life. I haven’t known how to define myself for people, and so I’ve just hidden away. There were all sorts of things I couldn’t talk about because I just sounded like a fraud (oh, you do that and that AND that?). I had this unquenchable thirst to do so many things, to learn so many things but no clear way forward down the single path that we are expected to find. What do you do, people wanted to know. Everything, nothing, I learned to say.
See, by saying I did this (whatever my current job or pre-occupation was) meant I would get to be known for that, and what about all the other stuff? What about when I get tired of the this or move on to the next thing? Who was I then? I enjoy doing too many things and they don’t fit tidily under one umbrella. How do I market myself? This seems to be the thread that goes through everything. So instead of developing my personal brand, marketing myself for what I do, I hide. I avoid the questions. I change the subject. This is the dilemma of a multipotentialite.
In some ways it became worst when I discovered my kids were cognitively gifted. I started researching giftedness in hope to better understand the complicated life I have with my kids. In my travels I came across a blog by Paula Proper, Your Rainforest Mind. And suddenly I was no longer reading about my kids. I was reading about myself. I don’t mean giftedness, either, I mean the state of being too much. Too intense, too interested, too emotional, too thinking, too analytical, too this, too that. Not enough and too much. And you know you’ve hit on something when tears that seem to come from an ancient long-buried place appear, and your pain is getting unearthed, and you’re like, holy f***, I can’t unsee this. There I was. Right there. And so were others.
And one night I thought about how my life was and I realized I had no purpose. Sure, I’m a mother and my kids need me, but what if I had never had kids? Surely I am more than a mother. I have nothing to give to others. Nothing I want to give. Nothing of value. Those were the thoughts of that night.
See, there is a kind of corruption that happens when we don’t follow our paths. It was not that I was interested in programming, learning french, writing, photography, building websites, dogs, designing, video editing, physics, social media, business strategy, soccer, how the brain works, cognitive therapy, positive psychology (oh, there’s more). But I thought it was. How do you follow a path when you’ve got many? Just imagine what I could accomplish if I could commit to something! It was not that.
It was this intellectual drifting. It was my being authentic in the wrong place. It was letting fear dictate. It was about mailing it in.
And this little whisper in my ear. Art. Oh little voice. What is even art?
I fought it for a million reasons. Because, how does art help anyone? (And I’m not saying you, dear artists of my tribe, I am saying me. And yes, I can pinpoint the experiences that lead to this belief, but you can psychoanalyze me later).
But it refused to leave me alone. This is your purpose, it said back then, it always has been and you’ve been denying it.
This deeply upsets me. It’s a pain that has to do with living, that had to do with life itself. Like a sin against the self. Like I’ve been denying the very gift of life. We have a responsibility and a duty to make the most of this gift. And I’ve been squandering it.
I’ve been squandering it.
The thing about business is that it’s all about the other people. What do they want and need? It’s easy to hide in the quest of pleasing others. The pursuit of art was too narcissistic. Too impractical. And too revealing! And how are you going to make a living from that?
After a lot of heart searching and research I realized in art, what your tribe wants and needs is whatever your personal work and vision is. You can only go inwards for that. That is what they are looking for. That work helps certain others see the world differently. It expands their world.
I haven’t been able to tell people what I really do because I was hiding who I am, what I feel, what I believe.
My most authentic creative work and some of my best writing has been on two secret blogs. One blog was just to have a place in the world where, although in a fictionalized format, I could tell the real truth without fear. I had to answer to no one and no one knew who I was. And people responded. But I didn’t think I should be “wasting time” (another theme in my life).
The other was for the special audience of one but over time grew into a larger audience and I felt myself hiding once again because I was developing relationships with those people and I lost the authenticity as my need to please them was too great and I felt I was becoming to known. Artist can’t please people with their art. They must make art that pleases themselves.
I don’t know yet what my “niche” is. But this blog is about becoming unstuck. A kind of unravelling. A coming clean. Journeys of creative process. Of what it means to be alive.
And also, a search for my tribe. After reading Paula’s blog I’m coming to the conclusion I have one, and I just haven’t been looking. I think you, my fellow tribes people, are out there; fellow creators, fellow doubters, fellow thinkers, fellow multipotentialites, fellow hiders. You are out there.
I can’t predict where this blog will go. And I can certainly promise spelling mistakes. But what I can promise is that I’m aiming for something real. I offer you an intimate view into the mind of another.
Re-launching jackieferrier.com with a focus on the creative, process and life.