I handed in all my work for the semester at Art College today. I feel drained and exhausted and euphoric. I have no idea what I’m doing next, or even if I’m re-enrolling in the next subjects. (My degree has been defunded by the government and won’t exist in 2016. I can’t finish it in that time even if I was doing it full time.) I was up late last night finishing everything. I’m happy with my work for Drawing class, and really happy with my work for Photography. I created my first zine, and spent time in a darkroom learning how to make photograms, photomontages, and use handmade negatives. That part was awesome. The topic was awful. We had to explore identity through self portrait. I felt so challenged and exposed by this that I found that I couldn’t write much here any more. I don’t know if that will change now that I’m done. I rather hope so.
It turns out that when sharing feels like I gift I choose to give, I get pleasure from it. I don’t need to write a blog. I have journals. I’ve written privately for many years. I choose to share to let people in, to connect, to be a voice for other people like me, to be visible as multiple, bi/pan, trans, a mad artist, a trauma survivor, who is defined solely by none of these things. But being told I must share, and must share personal things, feels painfully similar to being bullied. I hate it. I get very angry and my art gets angry. My sense of the audience changes. Usually when I write here, I think of you guys, the readers, as my friends. I try to be mindful of people who are themselves very vulnerable or in chronic emotional distress. I also try to consider people who have never experienced what I have and try to bridge the Gap between us. Having a deeply personal topic set for me has warped my sense of my audience. I don’t have a sense of people who are warm or curious or hurting. I suddenly have a sense of a disinterested, impersonal, critical audience, one who is judging me harshly from a superior distance… It doesn’t lead to a comfortable sense of sharing. I’ve done my best anyway, and I’m proud of the work I’ve submitted. I’ll share it here once I get it back.
I’m also in the middle of a short series of business mentoring arranged by the disability employment agency I volunteered to attend a few weeks ago. It’s intense and exciting and confusing as hell. I am so tired of floating about in a haze of uncertainty about what my future looks like… but I remind myself over and over that I’m so damn fortunate to have this future, to have choices and opportunities. People are talking to me, about me, agreeing that I have something kind of unique in my skill set and passions. I’m being encouraged to re-engage my mental health work, which is thrilling and scary. It’s hard to decide where to focus, what risks to take, what timetable to work towards. I’m pulled in so many different directions with no promise of success in any of them. I also got some amazing feedback from Tafe today, a sense that I could be at home there, find a sense of belonging – as I am, out and visible, not as the student who first went there several years ago who was anxious and afraid of sharing about her reality – chronic illness, multiplicity, queer. I’m not scared any more. I want to stay out. I want to be seen as a person, and I want to keep being a voice for others who are not as lucky as I have been, where I have so little to lose by being honest. I want to connect with other artists and keep learning – I have so much to learn. I also want to be independent and earning my own income. I want to feel that I’m making a difference in the world – the way I feel when someone sends me an email telling me this blog saved their life, or cries when I henna an angel baby onto their palm in memory of their pregnancy loss.
I don’t have answers but I do seem to be gathering support – other people who believe in me or see potential in my work. I can, on good days, see a glimmer of a future where this works without being too much for me. Where I get to feel that I’m changing some small corner of the world and earn money and take care of my family. And have the occasional psychotic episode, meltdown, spiritual epiphany… learning to live with a sense of enduring homelessness, of being different and far too disconnected from my own soul, the losses of adulthood. And the dark hours where everything makes sense, where the stars sing to me, my lover breathes patterns in the frost on my skin. So it goes.