Fill in the gaps

 

It’s my last morning in New Orleans. I shower one last time in the Tricou street Air BnB that has been home for the past few days. I turned the knob so that the water would pour through the bottom faucet rather than the shower head but water still dropped from the top. I instinctively cupped my hands together to catch the water and despite how long I held my position, my hands never filled. It came to me almost immediately, the similarities between the blessings God showers down on us are more like drips of water than an outpouring. 

The reason we don’t feel like we’re being blessed is because there are holes in our vessels. Pour water into your hands and it will inevitably slip through the spaces of your fingers. God wants to mend the holes in your life so that when he sends your blessings to you, you’ll be whole enough that they won’t slip through your fingers. 

—8:09 AM in Nola

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Kimolee Eryn

Kimolee Eryn is an artist and writer who believes in creating for a purpose beyond the purpose of creating. She believes that a life should be lived not just to sustain itself but to cultivate peace, love and growth in all adjacent beings and hopes to exemplify that in all she does.

The Love You Know

Better the love you know than the love you don’t know is coming.

It has been exceedingly easy to get caught up in the ideals of love. If I’m honest, my idea of love has always been based on what I’ve witnessed as an impartial 3rd party observer with no personal interest in the details of it; be it in the relationships of those adjacent to me or on television. Love became a fantasy in that the way it had always played out was so far removed from all I would anticipate it to be.

I set some very general intentions for myself this year, I knew that I wanted it to be a year of love and financial stability but I had no idea how that would manifest. True to form, life took me through the backroads, undoing a bunch of stuff before there seemed to be any progress made. I had no specific thoughts on what stability in love would require from me or what it would leave me with but I knew that I didn’t want to feel isolated anymore.

Somehow, as much as I know that love isn’t limited to romantic, intimate relationships, I still managed to overlook the importance of every other love in my life.

My life unraveled slowly and intensely. I left the security of my job of 8 years, subsequently struggled with my identity in ways I thought I had long overcome, and I was made to choose between loving myself and people I had once so desperately wanted to keep in my life. What it all came down to in the end was, I’m just fine.

Starting over in so many ways has been terrifying. Having to talk oneself down from a state of perpetual anxiety because new and unknown never comes with ease. In all of the trying transitions my last set of intentions brought me, I’ve been finding myself drawing closer to the love that I know.

Last night, I sat on my Uncle’s back porch at my cousin’s baby shower surrounded by cousins and strangers. As the night wound down, I found myself sitting with my father watching the remnants of the party surround my cousin as she opened baby gifts. We talked as we watched. I told him about my plans for the coming year, plans so far outside of my comfort zone that I felt my mind trying to change as I verbalized them. He shared some words of faith and encouragement and all I can remember was visualizing my move, feeling the simulation of isolation bearing down on me and wanting to cry and change my mind. In the same breath, something in my thoughts regained it's composure and I knew that I had to continue. A part of my why was sitting right in front of me.

Last week, I ran around my mother’s new house accommodating family and strangers at her house warming party as she greeted guests and laughed and became swept up in conversation. In past years, I would have been far too busy mulling over my own rubbish to want anything to do with that party but in that moment, even with homework due and work the next morning, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

There had been a guy that I found myself interested in for a while and I had spent a lot of time trying to figure him out. There was no haste but I also wasn’t interested in wasting time pursuing something in ways that wouldn’t be beneficial in the long run. I desired to maneuver differently though the "figuring it out” process than I had before. I used to jump head first into things. I had often been the girl who would shut down completely when my heart gave me trouble in any way, isolating myself, picking myself apart, hating myself for not being enough to make it work or at the very least, not being enough to inspire him to want to make it work… whoever the him was. Letting this him go wasn’t simple but it became easier the more he proved incapable of consistency. Somehow, the final act of letting go didn’t feel like it required any courage. It felt like turning down the stove because the fire was too high. It felt like choosing the love that I’d always come right back to… my own.

I spent my summer playing tennis with my father, hanging out with my mother, visiting my big sister, having heart to heart’s with my little brother. I spent my summer at birthday parties for my God-kids, dancing around my mother’s kitchen with my 1-year-old cousin, and watching the faces of the babies in my life light up when they saw me. I spent my summer playing board games with family, taking hikes and talking dreams with friends. I spent my summer taking time to be alone, not as punishment to those I no longer wanted in my presence but in reverence for all that I’ve endured and all that I’m aiming to become. I spent the summer falling in love with my life, myself and the people in it who desired to be there.

When it comes to the fight of our lives, the fight for our minds, our peace, our stability, there is no perfect plan. We all need love to get us through. We all want a love that can save us but when life is short and reciprocity isn’t guaranteed, it’s better the love you know than the love you don’t. Love can save us all, we just have to be willing to accept that the love that’s right in front of our faces, the love that’s good for us won’t always be that romantic, intimate kind of love. Sometimes it’s just family, just friends, just you, but there’s beauty in that. There’s peace in that good ole reliable love.

xO,

KimE.png
 
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Kimolee Eryn

Kimolee Eryn is an artist and writer who believes in creating for a purpose beyond the purpose of creating. She believes that a life should be lived not just to sustain itself but to cultivate peace, love and growth in all adjacent beings and hopes to exemplify that in all she does.

Ambitions as a Writer

 

There was something off about my world growing up. So much was forcibly being locked out — everything from cursing in the adult films my parents would watch that I was only a room away from to kids kissing in the Disney shows I was allowed to watch. Meanwhile, a different flavor of hell was rolling on the reel from which my parents couldn’t step outside of themselves for long enough to prevent my siblings and me from binge-watching. It made for a pretty conflicting message. Growing up too fast — bad. Dodging punches thrown by your mother from the front seat while she drove home from church because you had re-requested a stop at the beauty supply store that she didn’t give an answer to the first time — fine. Verbal and physical abuse was normalized in my home under the guise of discipline. It provided a build-up that I had absolutely no clue how to release.

Instructing your pre-adolescent children on the ways of the world while fixing their hats, holding an umbrella and building a roof of Dos and Don’ts over their heads simultaneously is the triple-layered sheltering that raised me. It was very selective sheltering but all the things I’d come to experience, in bulk, outside of home was left off the syllabus of childhood lessons. I have no children so I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to present the crude realities of reality to bright-eyed little sponges without scarring their hearts with all the warnings you intend to imprint on their minds.

I knew from a young age that I didn’t want to be anything like my parents. The more I grew into myself the more I realized there were bits and pieces of both my parents lodged in my personality like shrapnel. Apples fall from trees and they roll, but there were just some traits that I couldn’t roll far enough to get away from. My love for the arts was a direct reflection of all of my mother’s obsessions and before long it was the one heirloom I didn’t mind being handed down.

My mother had a love for music that I didn’t understand when I was young. Her days of playing Michael Jackson at ignorant levels usually followed some depressive streak of making everyone in the house miserable, so I always had qualms about whether or not it was ok for me to sing and dance along. It took some time for me to find my own way to music but when I finally did, nothing was the same.

It took a while as there was a rule in the house, just like with TV, there was music that wasn’t allowed. My mother did her own thing, of course, but children weren’t allowed to listen to anything besides gospel. The list of things that were prohibited grew as new opportunities came about, but it all stemmed from one concept — if it had nothing to do with God, we had nothing to do with it. That applied to the elementary school production of The Wizard of Oz that I was excited to be a part of until the permission slip portion that was sent home cluing my father in on what was happening. Wizards? Witches? “No!” It applied to the trip to NASA I had won in an essay contest in elementary school. It applied to cheerleading tryouts in high school but was somehow overruled for things like middle school basketball and high school track and field.

There was nothing that my 11-year-old self knew about heartbreak but “You Got It Bad” made me feel emotions that Sunday school songs and Britney Spears didn’t.

I was introduced to secular sounds through pop. Aside from the pardoned Michael Jackson tapes, it was selectively allowed as it pertained to Disney films. “Bringin’ Da Noise” posed no immediate threat as it played in Disney’s “The Other Me” but would have been shunned had it just been playing from the stereo without context — though we still tensed up when music played in our permitted films while he was home. That was the era of looking up and printing out song lyrics on the computers at school. I remember learning “All Star” by Smash Mouth for music class around ’99 /‘00. My father found the paper with the lyrics mixed in with my homework and had a fit. “Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb?! Is that what you’re listening to?” I was careful to hide my indiscretions better after that.

When I got hip to hip-hop and R&B via the FM radio settings on my sister’s walkman that I’d swipe and take to school field trips, it was a whole new life. I didn’t know why it was prohibited in the house. Gospel is cool but so was R&B. I liked vibing with some of the rap songs but R&B was my jam. There was nothing that my 11-year-old self knew about heartbreak but “You Got It Bad” made me feel emotions that Sunday school songs and Britney Spears didn’t. I felt in touch with the world around me. I loved music.

It didn’t take long before I transitioned from R&B to Rap. The conversations that the group of guys in my middle school Latin class always had about new rap songs sparked my interest. They were good friends but would argue with each other about lyrics and who the better rapper was. I didn’t understand anything about it but I pushed me to do what little research I could. I remember one night in particular — I snuck into my mother's room while she was at work. I sat in her bed with my homework to disguise the real reason I was there — to listen to the radio. I flipped to our local radio station, hot 93.7 to see what was playing and back to the gospel station 104.9 when I thought someone was coming. That night, I heard 50 Cent for the first time and I was eager to hear the rap debate the next day at school now that I knew what the guys were talking about.

I played around with the beats of the mainstream rap song I heard and made little remixes that were way too close to the actual lyrics to be called anything but fun and games. It wasn’t until “All this commotion emotions run deep as ocean’s exploding. Tempers flaring from parents just blow ’em off and keep going” struck chords that resonated with the dissent I was never allowed to express that I found a prospective release for all the home life build-up.

When I realized in middle school that I didn’t have to be able to sing like the R&B artists that I fell in love with, to express those encased emotions, I let music lead my rebellion. Pandora’s box laid open in my bedroom in the hours between the time I’d get home from school and the time my father got home from work. But when he’d return, I’d scurry to hide any evidence of my budding worldliness.

Rap music birthed the spoken word poet in me. Although there were no ambitions of being a rapper or knowledge that poetry was something I could do anything major with, I stuck with it.

My favorite place to go once I hit high school was my aunt’s house. She was “the cool aunt,” whose house was the go-to spot for all the rule-bending action when summer hit. She had the internet, every music video channel I could want, and she didn’t care much about what we did. I would spend as many hours as I could soaking up as much music as time would allow before going home. I was glued to the computer between BlackPlanet, burning CDs and looking up the words for my favorite songs on azlyrics. It was then that I was exposed to BET — 106 & Park, Rap City: Tha Basement, and the stock pot of all the explicit visuals I could consume.

We spent many long, fun-filled days at my aunt’s house only to shrink back down to our sheltered, religious selves before going home. I don’t remember if it was a pleasant outing for my parents or an explosive moment of dysfunction that my siblings and I were tossed from that lead to the switch up but we stayed at my aunt’s house one summer night. I slept in my little cousin’s room. I woke up sometime after midnight and turned on the small TV that was sitting on top of a bedside table across the tiny room. If I had been home, getting back to sleep would have been simple as there was no TV in my room to steal my attention. I flipped through the channels I was most familiar with first — Disney and Nickelodeon — there was nothing on that I cared to watch. I flipped some more and stopped on BET. I had never been up that late, never watched TV past a certain time and never expected to see what I saw. I’ll never forget the image of Nelly, the credit card and the bottom of a woman wearing a gold thong.

I was about 14 at the time of my first and last encounter with BET uncut. I wasn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns but I was a church-going, Disney-watching, sheltered adolescent girl that wasn’t exposed to much of anything that wasn’t rated G. I won’t pretend that it scarred me. I wasn’t that wholesome. I was post-pubescent enough to be intrigued — to compare myself and my body to the women I saw dancing and being praised in that video. The words meant little to me in context. It was one of those “actions speak” sort of deals. Granted, I didn’t turn into some orgy loving nymphomaniac — I’ve always been quite reserved. I did, however, learn to associate attention with value. I remember wanting a body that would demand the sort of attention I always saw Black and Hispanic women getting in these videos. I had no idea what I’d do with it once I got it, but I wanted it.

I emulated the camo-wearing power stomp and fist pump combo move screaming “I’M A SURVIVOR!” whenever neglect, rejection, and self-doubt stranded me on my emotional deserted island.

Songs like “Tell Me” by Bobby Valentino — especially the remix featuring Lil Wayne — sounded like high praise. “Now you got my eyes following the places you go. I’m caught up in ya vibe tryna kick it like Judo”. It all boiled down to the attention, the source of that attention and how it felt.

The music I found myself listening to conflicted with my own writing as my experiences didn’t scratch the surface of what was being promoted. I knew it was what was popular, but I didn’t know how to create that kind of content which led me to believe that writing wasn’t something I could do.

Growing up before social media, before think pieces on how media objectifies women, before the rise in movements supporting conscious and ambitious women, my empowerment came from the same source: music. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child was the first song I heard that made me associate women with strength and I emulated the camo-wearing power stomp and fist pump combo move screaming “I’M A SURVIVOR!” whenever neglect, rejection, and self-doubt stranded me on my emotional deserted island.

It was a start to becoming who I am now, but even as a college student there was too much 22 two’s and not enough “Get It Together” (India Arie) in my iTunes catalog. The music I was hip to mostly derived from suggestions by guy friends, so there was always more than a splash of misogyny embedded into my playlists. I was beyond the age of accountability, and it was my own responsibility to nurture myself, but it didn’t click that the music and the videos I listened to and watched was what I was feeding my emotions about myself and my creativity — “you are what you eat” was always too improbable in the most obvious context for me to even take a second thought about how it related to my mental and spiritual diet and subsequently, my art.

Nothing against Jigga,“too many b*tches wanna be ladies, so if you’re a hoe Imma call you a hoe. Too many b*tches are shady” kept me guarded in my actions as it concerned men. While Christina and Lil Kim made some valid points about the double standard in “Can’t Hold Us Down,” father Hov’s opinion meant much more to me.

I can only imagine how much sooner I would have found the self-esteem I needed to not only live but to create what was true to me had I known to balance bobbing to the censored cuts of Freek-A-Leek at school functions with the double-standard quelling vibes TLC provided in “Girl Talk”. I needed more emphasis to be placed on how “respect is just the minimum”.

The disconnect came from all that I was creatively attracted to coupled with the fact that I essentially was not about that life in any regard.

My rhymes were fairly elementary up until I started college in 2007. I met a rapper from New York during my one semester at The University of Hartford that took a liking to me. Although it wasn’t reciprocated, I appreciated the interest he took in my writing. He’d compliment my work and offer suggestions. Though his ulterior motives were evident in the way he clowned me for my obsession with my boyfriend that was still in high school, I respected his critique of my art and remained cordial. He got me into switching up my rhyme schemes. Rather than rhyming the end of every bar, I practiced doubling rhymes mid bar and switching flows as often as I wanted to.

The roommate I had from the city that I spent half the semester with after moving on from Sarah Beth from New Hampshire put me on game. She introduced me to Lupe Fiasco and picking apart bars for meaning. I remember that November when American Gangster dropped, her homeboy’s Christian and Kelcy came by our room for a kickback and we listened to song after song and passionately discussed Sean Carter’s lyrical genius. He became a real influence in my writing after that.

I practiced writing about my life, as meager as my experiences were. I mimicked the rapper-style shit talk that I admired the most. I became more conflicted than ever, as I grew more socially aware, of the content of my writing. I perpetuated the same woman-bashing I had been affected by, and by 2009 it all became too much. My life began to mirror the drama I pretended to be about and it left me feeling isolated in the group of people I thought I wanted. I put down writing for some time because I had no idea where to go from where I was and I was too preoccupied with resuming my studies to figure it out. I’d write things that sounded good but spending time piecing words together that I never felt compelled enough to do more with felt unnecessarily taxing.

During that time, I took comfort in the musical stylings of Jhené Aiko. I loved the way she sang so serenely about some of the same concepts that I had heard rappers spit about in more vulgar tones. It was immensely soothing. It gave me new creative goals. It was what I wanted my words to feel like. I sought out artists that made me feel similar things with words that healed. A friend pointed me in the direction of India Arie’s Voyage to India and I knew that anything I created after that point had to be something real — it needed meaning.

I didn’t anticipate that I’d do more with writing than poetry. Mandated writing assignments annoyed me, so I didn’t think I’d write anything on my own time that didn’t rhyme. I found that there are some things that were all too real for me to water them down by dressing them up in metaphors. Sometime later I began to take it seriously and became an independent author sharing stories of my mental health. Not only did I not think I’d find a career in writing but I never thought those bitter moments powered by my parent’s emotional neglect would serve any purpose besides conditioning me for a life of self-deprecation. I never imagined that music would provide more than momentary feelings — even more, that it would fuel my ambitions as a writer.

xO,

KimE.png
 

Before It Gets Bad Again

“Things feel good right now, it’s a good time to end it, you know… before it gets bad again.”

Even with the spreading of awareness, the sharing of the stories, the breaking of the silence, the silencing of the shame, there are just some feelings you’ll never be ready for.

It was summer— nice weather always drastically improves my general mood. I had been taking on more events, my instagram was filling up with more than just selfies, I was showing my grind side. My DMs were flooding with people interested in what I was doing. I had just finished a body paint runway set that I was stressing over for months but once it happened, I received a response great enough to pacify my self-criticism. My event calendar was beginning to clear and I was settling into a restful and fulfilled space. My sisters came out to my show and after it was done we had our usual summertime sleepover, complete with mimosas and an afternoon by the pool.

At some point I found myself alone in the living room. Basking in my completeness when it hit me. “Things feel good right now, it’s a good time to end it, you know… before it gets bad again.” The was no clear trigger aside from a moment of me taking inventory of my peace. Peace is a trigger?! This was new. Like clockwork, memories of all of my latest run-ins with stress, worry, anxiety, fear and loneliness came sauntering into the open field of my once rested mind, reminding me of all that could go wrong again. I was terrified. It wasn’t the things that could inevitably go wrong that worried me, it was the fact that depression found a breech in a place I’d never expect it to infiltrate, in a way that I’d never see it coming. It was the moment I realized that my achilles heel had an achilles heel― I felt more at risk than I ever had before.

The worry came because although the thought was clearly temptation to fall back into a negative space, the concept was indisputable. Sure, things were good but there’s always a test around the corner. A struggle of mine had always been things that required maintenance ―clear skin, bills, cars, relationships―they were all triggers for me. I’d put so much effort into maintaining them and they just continued to need more. Multiplying that effort by the rest of my life was an overwhelming concept and being human became more of an ordeal than an experience.

The solution didn’t come instantly. It took some brooding over my new found plight, a lot of intense caution and the realization that I had avoided living in order to avoid triggering depression. What good was peace if I wasn’t actually enjoying it?

I slowly began to allow old triggers back into my life as a rebellion of sorts. If I was going to be depressed anyway I might as well enjoy it. I rebelled most against my diet and my self-imposed celibacy, the two things I needed the most show of control in. The junk food binges were a little less damaging. There was only so much my stomach could hold before it stopped me but the heart gives a little bit more leeway. I wasn’t ready to embrace love so I made it a point to let go of physical entanglements as well but in this moment, I found myself embracing a man that I knew wasn’t good for me. I had been so starved of affection that I’d rendezvous with his toxicity, drown out his presence with weed and wine, consume his lust as if he were someone I could curl up with and enjoy after spilling my love, then I’d go home to silence and self-loathing to pray away my guilt. I couldn’t make it a regular thing, he was too intensely bad for all that I tried to build in between those moments of self-destruction. I’d return to celibacy after using whatever the extent of his desire for me was to fulfill my need to be wanted. I’d avoid him, thoughts of him, memories of our times together until I needed more. Then I’d avoid thoughts of how he made me feel mentally and emotionally long enough to validate the idea of going back to him physically for another round of self-destruction.

After a string of ill feelings towards myself for allowing someone to bring me to odds with myself, I came to my senses. It was no longer worth the sacrifice to be touched by lips that couldn’t speak kindly to me when there was a difference of opinion. My self-esteem wouldn’t allow me to take any more of a beating.

Somewhere in-between all of that, I found the idea of a balance between cautiously existing and fully living. I had always been the person who needed to go from one extreme to the next before finding a comfortable place in the middle and this was no different. My middle, living cautiously. The difference is in existing and living. Striving to do everything in ways that I could be sure there’d be zero negative blowback was killing me just as much as ignoring consequence was. There’s a balance between flirting with the edge and creating boundaries for myself that I had been afraid to find.

It took me writing a book about control and shining light on my journey to mental health to show me that while I had begun to take back the reins of my life from the negative forces that were at work, I had also allowed myself to be pushed into a “safe” corner. It took being in that “safe” corner to discover that my lack of movement stemmed from fear and that anything done from a place of fear, even peace, would inevitably have an adverse effect.

My path to mental health has proven to be balance, more importantly, finding what that means for each moment, each step of the way. It has proven to be different for each phase so the battle will always be new and somewhat unfamiliar. It has also proven to be completely worth the fight.

xO,

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CELIBATE: Year 2- Knowledge is Power

 

I've been asked numerous times during the past couple of years why I chose to be celibate. There is no one answer to this for me. My reasons were (and still are) many. There were times when I’d boldly answer, “I want to do something different to get something I’ve never had before (which is the overall reason that all other reasons fall under).” Those times mostly fell within the first year and a half of my journey.

What changed?

...Life.

     It wasn’t that I no longer had the desire to do something different in order to get something I never had before (I still do). It was that in the midst of standing on that decision, life just kept on coming. That should be expected, right? Well, it is. Life is like a crash, it’s impossible to adequately brace for impact. You never know what’s coming, how fast or intensely it will arrive and how long it will linger.

     It wasn’t that relationships were that big of a distraction that any prospect of love intercepted my intentions and caused me to waver. It was that when life happened like consecutive jabs to my peace, my certainty in purposefully being alone was no longer certain. When the areas of your life that you thought you secured begin to loosen under pressures that you didn’t even think could move you let alone unravel you, whatever defenses you’ve prepared (or a lack thereof) kicks in.

     I went into celibacy thinking that the work that I would have to put in would simply be to stay away from any relationships. I had no intentions of flinging or one night standing so I knew that wouldn’t pose a problem for me.

     I didn’t stop being celibate, though there were moments I had to ask myself what the point was in all that I was forcing myself to endure ‒ and yes, there did come a point (several in fact) when it no longer felt like a choice that I made but like a punishment that I had to endure for an indefinite period of time. That point was accompanied by all the strength I felt from reclaiming my power thinning out and I hung on by a fairly loose thread to the remnants of my regained virtues.

     During my first year of celibacy, I had this amazing epiphany about “taking back my power”. I had been doing a lot of reading and referencing the parts of the bible I had committed to memory when I was in church. I always giggled at the lingo used to express sexual relations in the bible. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived.” “But he knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” We’ve gotten so far away from prudishly annotating the coming together of two people but going back to the basics made something apparent for me. Thinking of sex as “knowing” as well as the spiritual act of sharing your power with your partner ‒ “knowledge is power” started to mean a whole lot more than just “read a book and learn something.”

     After that moment of clarity, I was hell bent on never sharing my power with anyone my spirit couldn’t vouch for and I knew that would take time and intense vetting. But even those fortifying epiphanies don’t just stick.

Let’s back track..

     Back in December 2016, life happened to me in continuous rounds of body shots and I can’t recall a time prior to that where I took as many consecutive jabs, where I felt as low or as weak as I found myself feeling during that time. I found myself drunk at a friend’s house trying my hardest to not talk about all the emotions I was battling (ones that had absolutely nothing to do with celibacy). I found myself drunk. I found myself responding to subtle advances and I found myself advancing not so subtly on my own. The main problem with this was that the guilt that hit promptly upon the arrival of my sobriety the next morning stemmed in (large) part from the thought of having to restart my celibacy calendar (no, not an actual calendar).

     Being the guilt-ridden, introspection junkie that I’ve been, I lamented over all of it. I cried - a lot. I felt horrible in awful ways. My guilt and shame got together and reproduced, creating some hybrid monstrosity that felt like more self-loathing than I have ever had the displeasure of becoming acclimated with. It was so bad that I told a friend not to try to talk me out of my funk because I didn’t deserve to feel better.

     I woed even more about the fact that I didn’t break my celibacy because celibacy was proving to be difficult. It happened as a result of feeling weakened in every other area of my life. I loathed how comforting it felt to indulge in a meaningless connection. I hated myself for being capable of such weakness.

     That honest slip of my will pushed me to question myself and the reason for my vow of celibacy. It made me question whether or not it was necessary for me to continue. It made me uncomfortable with the self-imposed struggles that I was being held accountable for. It made me rebel against myself which led to a second moment of weakness that wasn’t an honest slip at all. It was deliberate. It was a face off between my will and my desire to be free of the responsibilities that I had taken on (on my own).

     I felt less terrible. It being a decision rather than a mistake took away some of the self-loathing that followed. I still felt wretched, though. I felt numb and that numbness - my rebellion that resulted in my little “experiment” helped me to realize that I had lost sight of the quest that I was so sure of to begin with.

     I can honestly say that I didn’t regain the confidence in my journey until a couple weeks ago (about 7 months after the slip). It was just a few weeks ago that I told a friend that I was over celibacy. The truth is, I’m not over it. That would mean that I’m over my growth, my peace and my desires for a life that doesn’t feel like an episode of a bad reality tv show. I’m not over it.

     The pros of my slip and fall from (my own) grace is that it highlighted for me more areas of my life that needed further detailing. I never intentionally swept any of my issues under my proverbial rug ‒ the mess was masked by “the way things are”, “the way things have always been”. I just happened to throw a pretty little rug on what I thought was a clear space. Now that it has come to light, I can’t pretend I didn’t see it. That would be a sin against myself. It would be catastrophic for the “different” that I’ve almost delusionally told myself was possible even without example.

     The con is fairly obvious (even if only in context). I backslid. There was a moment during my emotional decline where I sought out a purpose in my position of falling out of sync with myself. I tried to make it mean more than it did in a desperate attempt to regain the self- respect that I had lost. I even went as far as trying to find long term potential in that friend that so readily aided in my backsliding. That was up until I inevitably found myself on the losing side of a power trip and I realized that I never had this power trip with him before because he didn’t have my any of my power before. You can care enough about a friend to argue/ debate things but it’s different when those debates and arguments are a result of trying to demand a level of respect that you feel is deserved but isn’t being given. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t the respect you actually deserve but why demand it (even solely in action) from someone who doesn’t see you as worthy of it to begin with? It took a while to snap myself out of that foolishness but I did. I had to forgive myself in order to not count it as a failure for me. I had to get back to a place where I was adamant about not allowing it to make me feel like continuing was impossible or futile. I had to readjust my perspective to find the lesson in the L I was taking and that required me to sedate my ego.

Where am I now?

     I decided that I wasn’t going to completely start over. I’m still 2 years into my decision to be celibate. It’s not to pretend that I effortlessly made it to 2 years of celibacy. It’s not to pretend that what happened didn’t in fact happen. I will continue to count how long it has been since I made the decision, the vow to be celibate, just as I’ll always count my fouls as a part of the journey. It has been 2 years since I decided that I needed and wanted to be celibate. It has been 8 months since I realized that temptation doesn’t only come in the form of physical urges to have sex but that needing or wanting comfort in other seemingly unrelated areas can also open doors for weakness. And it has been 4 months since I proved to myself that sex clouds even the most objective judgement and can thwart the strongest will. Everything counts.

     I’m currently reading “The Wait” by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good. It’s reminding me of all the values that prompted my celibacy to start. My desire to regain my control, my power, my desire to get closer to God, my need to tune out the noise of modern life and modern love. It confirmed for me that these journeys are always better with support. That’s where I am now – building, attracting my support system. It’s necessary to start new, as I’m still learning. The people who are already stationed in your life as a support system for other things won’t all fit the necessary criteria for support in this journey. Friends who encourage you to have sex because “it’s good for you” and friends who are willing and always ready to aid you in succumbing to your vulnerability aren’t the friends that you need to allow into this particular part of your journey. It reminded me that you can’t take people on those parts of your journey that were meant just for you. It’s confirming that when you are ready to commit to a decision ‒ enough so that you are willing to put space between you and whoever you need to, that space will be filled with real support from kindred spirits.

     I’m in a place now where I’m looking for space to take. Space from everything and everyone not meant to serve in this next phase of my journey. I can’t afford the kind of support that eggs on counterproductive thoughts, behavior or even conversation. I can respect that this path isn’t meant for everyone regardless of how helpful it can be to anyone. I also have to respect that it’s necessary for me ‒ enough to give myself a solid chance at seeing it through.

Where am I now?

     I’m back on track - in a less “needing to be certain that it’s all possible” way and in a more “I’m going to create this possibility if it doesn’t already exist” way. Being committed, being adamant, being the force that you need, to be who you need to be is pretty damn great. It’s the kind of boldness that will attract the necessary support for the moment when your own force wanes.

Where am I now? I’m back to purposeful. I back to sure. I’m back to in control.

Am I afraid to mess up again?

     No, I’m not. That’s not to say that I’m any less human now than I was before. It’s to say that having gone through a significant phase of doubt only to come back to this resolve solidifies my resolve for me. I never want to get back to that place where my thoughts of myself felt almost impossible to redeem. I never want to get back to a place where my guilt is so strong that it has the potency to destroy my desire to allow myself to move on so I can do better. I never want to feel like less than my best self again.

     At the same time, I’m completely open to my humanness. I know that I’m not impervious to messing up. I’m not above emotion. I’m not the queen of restraint. I’m actually the opposite of all of that. I’m super moody and have the kind of personality that allows me to easily become addicted and almost obsessed with anything that coddles my feelings ‒ be it a combination of good weather and a serene location, a great meal or a gentle touch. Knowing myself and what makes me susceptible to caving is essential to avoiding those things that will tempt me in ways that I could potentially find it hard to turn down.

     Should the day come again, that I find myself staring down the barrel of any kind of pain or discomfort that has the potential to fuel my infidelity to my promise to myself and to God ‒ if I’m weak enough to fold, I’ll aim to deal more gracefully and mercifully with myself and get back on track sooner.

My resolve:
    All that I aim to be – powerful in my vulnerability, in giving of myself; through my art, through my life, being a source of light, of peace and of love – not everyone deserves to be on the inside of that journey; not as friends and certainly not as a partner. Not everyone (despite how intelligent they are or how spiritual they seem) can add to you in the ways you need it. This makes it imperative to wait, to take the time – however much it requires. Take the time before you allow someone to know you. Let them prove themselves continuously.

Who are you allowing to know you? Who are you sharing your power with?

 

CELIBATE: the bottom line

I wrote, once, about saving yourself up for your future, as you would for a car rather than frivolously spending yourself on meantime relationships. I guess my journey in celibacy is my “practice what you preach” because if I believed it enough to write about it, why not believe it enough to live it?

I think that people generally arrive at their need to be celibate, to abstain for a while or as I’ve come to refer to it, their “Eat. Pray. Love.” journeys when they realize that while endlessly looking for love in every Tom, Dick, Harry, Tiana, Diane and Harriet, they were making their energy rain in the wrong places and have inevitably entered their drought.

There is no short cut for arriving at this turning point. Yes, it is indeed a turning point if you’re looking at it from the right angle. If you aren’t, you’ll need to reposition yourself until it comes into focus.

We all reach our moments of “I can’t do this anymore” at some point in our lives. We just arrive and depart differently. Some get there in the form of repetitive heartbreak and leave shunning love while others arrive at the intersection through “those relationships weren’t right for me but my time will come”, bang a right at the light and find themselves on a journey to finding themselves and eventually their love. However you arrive, it is important to remember that love isn’t what hurt you; it is giving yourself to unworthy individuals, to people who don’t know themselves, to people who haven’t matured yet and people who don’t have the same end goal as you that has been causing you to suffer.


MAKING THE DECISION

The decision has to be based on you. That means that although your ultimate end game might be to find a good and suitable significant other for yourself, that should not be your driving force. If finding love (outside of yourself) is your driving force, the moment you meet someone a little different than what you’re accustomed to that catches your eye and makes you feel pretty inside, you’ll find yourself thinking that you’ve accomplished your mission and forget about the personal growth that you also needed – until that potentially falls apart too.

Be sure that your reasons for pursuing this journey is rooted in yourself (& God), in doing so, when temptation comes (and be advised, it surely will come) you’ll have more to stand against it than just your initial desires for alone time.


FINDING YOUR REASONS

Your you-based reasons for this journey will stem from a lot of feelings. It’s important to be completely honest with yourself when sorting these feelings. Some of the feelings that lead me to desiring alone time was the difference in my single me and my relationship me. I always felt a little better when I was alone. I had to compartmentalize the truths behind that realization and that lead me to sort out what part of that was me and my insecurities and what part derived from the behavior of my exes. Almost everything you feel will have a you component and a them component. This is why celibacy isn’t just a break from love, relationships and sex; it’s also a journey to personal growth.

The more you dig, the more you’ll feel and you should take those feelings into consideration as well. Example, some of the feelings I uncovered while digging made me annoyed with myself. I had to acknowledge that I had a propensity for all the things I didn’t like in others such as manipulation, jealousy and projecting insecurities. I was capable of all of this and it was uncomfortable to admit to myself because I would have liked to think that I was better than that. Outside of relationships, I was but something always got turned upside down in me when I was with someone and I hardly ever felt like myself. I concluded that I needed to grow in order to feel secure in a relationship and also, I needed to be with someone who was not only mature enough to never try to make me feel insecure but who would go out of his way to make me comfortable like I have always done for others.

This is something that pops up every time I found myself in conversation with someone who was interested in me. I’d allow myself to observe them (their negatives mostly) because it was what I used to remind myself that they needed to grow first and that would remind me further that I needed to grow more as well. I had to get out of the habit of making excuses for men and giving them the benefit of the doubt too soon.

In addition to sifting through those negative feelings, I had to highlight the good feelings I associated with relationships.


SUBSTITUTIONS

Figuring out what those good feelings were was essential to the process. I had to know all of what I got from those relationships so I could find those feelings in other things that were less compromising. Granted, there are some things in love that you can only get from love, but knowing that this journey will lead to the greatest loves (self, God, and in time, a relationship) makes the absence of those things now, less of a deal breaker. Since being celibate, I have put much more of my energy into my art. I’ve performed more, I’ve written more, I’ve been published and featured, I’ve tried more things and have received more opportunities. I don’t think I wouldn’t have been able to do those things while in a relationship but the energy I wasn’t putting into fighting with my ex became available for more productive things when I decided to let it go. I also decided that I didn’t want to split my energy again until I got to a place where I was satisfied with my creative consistency.

My art, my God kids, my sisters, my friends; spending time with them, sowing my love into myself and them has provided me with about 95% of the feelings that relationships provided me with before. The things that relationships made me feel that I needed included feeling loved, feeling special, feeling beautiful, feeling chosen, feeling essential to someone’s happiness, feeling like I’m contributing to someone’s life in ways that only I can; all those things I get from being a God mom/ Aunt, from being a sister, from being a friend, a confidant, an adviser, a creative, a leader, and a positive force in this world.


THE LONG HAUL

Physically, in my own journey, it was a bit difficult to start. I mentioned that I was in a relationship when I began. What made it easier for me was that the sex was subpar and that the relationship was long distance. Once that relationship ended, it continued to be easy as there was no one expressing interest that I was mutually interested in and I refused to back track and become involved with anyone from my past. It did become a task staying focused on my end goal when someone I had been interested in for a while expressed similar interest. To be honest, it’s still a bit difficult maintaining

that friendship when I know that there’s potential there for more. That’s when it becomes imperative to remind myself of my reasons. It’s easy to chalk up failed relationships to bad guys/ girls and heartbreak but that’s not always the case. Reminding myself that it wasn’t only the relationships with savage men that left me feeling empty and crawling back to my basics will continue to be important throughout this journey. Also, reminding myself that the problem was never 100% them (exes) but that I played a role in those failed relationships as well, is equally necessary. Otherwise, I’d be more tempted to take those great qualities I see in him and run with them forgetting that I have my own shit that needs fixing.

 

The bottom line for me was that I got to a place where I wanted me more than I wanted to be wanted by anyone else. Compromising before you get where you need to be takes away parts of you that you can’t afford to sacrifice. I wanted to feel what my best self felt like. I wanted to feel beautiful without comparison, to feel desired without expiration, to feel accomplished without boundaries, to feel high without influences. That’s how I feel now, being alone. As far as personal growth, I aim to be that more consistently. I don’t need anyone to make me feel that high but I also don’t want anyone who will take any of that away from me. I know he’s out there, and I know he’ll be worth the wait.

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Kimolee Eryn

Kimolee Eryn is an artist and writer who believes in creating for a purpose beyond the purpose of creating. She believes that a life should be lived not just to sustain itself but to cultivate peace, love and growth in all adjacent beings and hopes to exemplify that in all she does.

CELIBATE: 1 year and counting

Relationships aren’t what they used to be.  Having conversations with people who feel the same has started to feel like those conversations we heard our parents have about the difference in their music and ours.  I don’t know if it has always been as bad as it is now or if it’s just one more thing social media highlighted for us.  Either way, exclusivity, loyalty, communication, all these terms have become indicative of nagging or arguing and if those are the things we feel about the concepts that should be the keys to healthy relationships, what are we even trying to do anymore?

We all go into relationships looking for what we want for ourselves in others but how often do we try to see if we have what they need in us?  It seems like a given but with communication on the fritz, how can we even know the things about each other that we need to know in order to be all that we need to be for our partners.  I found myself in a relationship at one point that I knew I had no business being in simply for the fact that we weren’t able to communicate our issues effectively with each other because communication itself was stressful.  The more I got to know him, the more I knew I wanted nothing more than to undo everything but I didn’t want to be shallow and nagging so I pushed through.  It got to the point where I’d find myself hanging up on him mid story, mid argument, mid “why I love you” because the way he spoke gave me anxiety.  I know, it’s awful to hang up on someone and pretend you got cut off hoping when they called back they’d forget what they were talking about.  I was wrong for that but when I say anxiety, I mean literal anxiety attacks.  It was depressing, being with someone who I could barely talk to because the way he spoke, the things he said all made me want to poof out of existence.  No shade, we just weren’t compatible.

Since then, I have been celibate for 1 year and 2 months, to date. 

It was during that relationship that I decided I wanted to be celibate.  We discussed it and he agreed.  Seems like a messed up thing to want in the middle of a relationship, I know, but I honestly, I had no unreasonable expectations. If he wanted out, I wouldn’t have blamed him.  I didn’t expect him to agree to it, he was free to go but he decided to stay.  That’s when things got messy.

There were some things about that situation that played a major role in my decision to be celibate.  I came to realize that taking sex out of the equation will show you each and every place where there is a disconnect.   Those disconnections are the places that get pacified because “at least the sex is good” or “atleast I’m having sex on the regular”.   For me, the sex wasn’t good.  Definitely not good enough to fill in the many gaps that were present and that’s when I realized that the way I’ve been going about things was backwards.  As far as progress goes, I can’t regret something that has helped me grow as much as that failed relationship did but I got to the point where I no longer wished to go out on emotional limbs for anyone.

One important lesson I learned during those trials and error relationships was that men are no more sure (in general) than women are about any given thing.   It was a “DUH!” moment for me, admittedly but I had to cut myself a lot of slack.  A lot of men do come across like they know who they are, what they want, how to get it and what to do with it, though that obviously isn’t always the case.  I don’t hold it against them though because a lot of pressure has been placed on them to know and be sure of all these things, to be leaders, to be providers and there is little room for error.  This doesn’t excuse everything, just a lot by way of expectations. I’ve grown to learn that men are just as susceptible to uncertainty as women are.  They are just as liable to be fickle.  They have insecurities, just like women and they aren’t automatically suited to lead just because they are men.  None of those realizations made me hate men and none of those realizations made me want to bash men.  Realizing those things made me want to take control of who I found myself entertaining and the amount of energy I put into vetting that person.  There’s a big difference between choosing and “being chose”.  Although there was a screening process involved, I decided that it wasn’t enough.  I no longer felt flattered to catch anyone’s eye, no matter how much potential they had.  It no longer suited me to passively be dragged into and through relationships.  It became necessary to raise my standards a little more.  

A few reasons that pushed my decision to abstain…

1)      YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF SETS THE TONE FOR EVERY OTHER RELATIONSHIP YOU’LL HAVE.

Sounds simple enough, but it took some time to realize that my relationship with myself needed work.  I embraced some changes in the early years of my adult life and with those changes came a deeper understanding of myself and thus a deeper appreciation for myself but I didn’t know that back in 2010 when these changes began that I barely even scratched my own surface.  Trial and error relationships forcibly taught me a lot about myself - things that were important for me to know, but after a while, I had to realize that there was a lot left for me to embrace about myself and instead of employing my heart as a crash test dummy for the wild rides I’d find myself on, I decided that it would be best to not do any further damage to it and the remaining hope I had that longevity in love was possible.  Also, the time I have been investing in myself and my art has yielded so many amazing results. 

2)      I WANTED A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THAN THE ONE I TOLD MYSELF WAS ALREADY THERE.

I know it’s unpopular opinion that sex should be saved for marriage and based on the way our hormones are set up, I can easily see why.  I don’t have those “I wish I waited” regrets simply because spilling tears over spilled milk doesn’t get it back into the box (I didn’t intend that pun at all, to be honest).  Am I saying that I won’t have sex again until I’m married?  I hope that’s possible but to be 100% honest with myself – I can’t plan that, my self control is phenomenal but I’m still human.  I can however say that I don’t plan to have any flings, any relationships with anyone that doesn’t fully suit me as I’ve come to learn and love myself.  I don’t plan to have any relationship with anyone who does not believe as I believe and who is not willing to have God at the center of whatever is being built as I have made Him the center of all that I am and all that I do.  That’s non-negotiable. 

3)       BAD SEX, MEANINGLESS CONNECTIONS AND RAISING BOYS TO BE MEN FOR OTHER WOMEN

No shade.  I’m not insinuating that my exes weren’t good enough for me.  Despite how those relationships ended, I found that I was a perfect fit for each relationship I was in at the time I was in them, as I was.  That was the problem.  I didn’t want to be who I was, I wanted to be better and so I aimed to be better.  There were relationships that my wanting to grow became problematic for.  I wanted to try new things, I wanted to figure out who I could be.  Instead of seeing that as ambitious, there were those whose insecurities pushed them to mock my ambition as pretention.   Those were the guys who would either encourage me to not do too much or guilt me into not doing things that involved interacting with other men.   There were relationships I just couldn’t juggle; attempting to domesticate myself in order to “play my position” while aiming to level up in my own spaces left little energy for what was important to me and essentially wasn’t good for me.  I didn’t want to believe that I was fated to be unfulfilled conversationally, sexually and emotionally and it came to the point where I would rather no sex than bad sex and miscommunication with anyone for the rest of my life.  Also, there were cases of the boys who I tried to force to grow up, they fought back.  After a certain amount of arguing and tense interactions, we’d write it off as irreconcilable but then he’d grow up for whoever came next.  While there was a little satisfaction in having it acknowledged that I wasn’t just nagging but had a legitimate cause for concern, I was tired of being the test subject.

4)      I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT I WANTED.

I knew enough about myself to know what I did and didn’t want on the surface but the more I leveled up in my personal growth the more things changed and the more standards I had.  Realizing this let me know that I needed to either set my standards to what would fit the person I was growing into or just wait until I got there to go back to “dating”.

5)      SEX LOST ITS MEANING

Prior to actually losing my virginity (in college) I thought sex was special.  I thought it was supposed to be an intense connection between two people who already had an intense connection.  Growing up I realized that not everyone felt this way.  That didn’t change what I thought it should be or what I wanted it to be but those trials and errors did manage to snuff my fire out significantly.  I got to a point where even in relationships, I had to be under some kind of influence to connect sexually and if I wasn’t, my mind would roam and I’d have to fake interest in what was happening.  Those kinds of interactions made for great materials to write about and for a while, I accepted it solely for the purpose of feeling just enough to keep my poems flowing but I grew up.  That’s no longer sufficient and I’d rather quit art altogether than to put myself through anything just to feel something.

MIX IT ALL TOGETHER…

I’ve outgrown the influence of my peers, film, television, music and such that expresses this socially acceptable expression of “live your life” as it pertains to love and sex.  What relationships have come to represent is unappealing and disheartening to me but I don’t intend to allow it to deter me from what I want for myself or my belief that I can have it.  I do intend to wait as long as I need to to assure that what I bring to the table is nothing short of sincere and that my faith, my intentions, my ambitions, my loyalty and my desires are matched.  Celibacy has cleared that “this might be able to work” filter from the bigger picture for me.  I give myself time, now, to read people’s intentions and having no expectations for them rules out making excuses for who they show me that they are.

Since deciding to abstain, I’ve been in a couple situations where I had the opportunity to observe men’s behavior objectively.  There’s so much more that is communicated in these interactions than what is actually said.   Being celibate doesn’t give you superpowers that allow you to see who is sincere and who isn’t but when you stand on your decision to be removed from doing things the way you have always done them, you give yourself the time you need to locate your best interests in a situation before physically putting yourself there.  

It hasn’t been the easiest journey by a long shot.  There are bouts of loneliness, I must admit.  They don't tempt me to fold as much as I thought they would, though.  I fill them with conversations with friends and setting new goals for myself.  It's still not easy, though.  In the beginning, I felt a little aimless and thus more susceptible to crashing.  I knew why I was doing what I was doing but thoughts of “what’s the point? No one respects relationships as much as you do so you’ll be waiting forever” definitely came through to shake my foundation.  I can honestly say prior to the 8 month mark, I was ready to start making bad decisions again.  The frustration was real.  I don’t know if I would have gotten as far as I did if someone didn’t come along to give me a little hope.  I had a couple conversations with a friend who I had feelings for at one time.  The conversations reminded me of why those feelings where there to begin with and although being in that space to have those conversations with him at that point made me a lot more tempted to say “screw this journey”, it also inspired me to press through.  I know, it does seem ass backwards.  Finding someone with potential that matched my recently upped standards should have made me want to jump in because what are the odds that he’ll be available when I feel ready.  Except, seeing that potential made me want to wait even more because “do something you’ve never done to get something you’ve never had.”  I was 10 ½ pushing 11 months when this all happened.

Now that I’m here, well past a whole year, I am thankful that I stuck it out for several reasons. 

1) If I allowed myself to rush in for what I wanted, I’m sure we would have expired by now and our friendship would have gone bad with it.

2) I chose me.  I needed to choose me.  Showing myself the love that I needed was a step in the direction of being ready for all the things I want with someone else eventually.

3) Making a decision against your habits is a necessary step in changing those habits.

Overall, I’m still growing, I’m still learning and I’m still hopeful that at the end of this journey I’ll be an even more refined version of myself.  Also, that whoever I find myself with will be the last one.  I know this all seems a bit much but the lengths you’re willing to go for what you want says a lot about how badly you want it.    

 

 

Confessions of a CT Creative

Being a creative has been one of the most tumultuous journeys of my life.  There is little by way of certainty and then comes the realization that it will always be this way.  Deciding to be an artist is a step you take when you know that there is no other way to live (for you).  It isn't something that anyone should jump blindly into.  You have to know the risks and decide that though it will presumably be a maddening journey, it's what makes your soul feel at peace.

I've come to learn myself as a creator.  I'd get ideas of concepts that I wanted to bring to life that didn't always fit into poems, although I tried settling with the titles "poet" and "writer".  I never only wanted to write and perform, I wanted to try everything that caught my attention.  I was attracted to the messiness of painting along with the vibrant colors that always seemed to transcend any mood it was manipulated to fit.  I was drawn to the way film could capture and magnify regular life in beautiful cuts.  I fell in love with the way certain songs could hijack my heartbeat and make me feel things I would never voluntarily permit myself to feel.  I became intrigued with the thought that my hands, although attached to the body in control of my meager life, could possibly create things that were so far beyond who I had come to know myself as.  I never dreamed that merely acting on those small moments of inspiration would bring me here.

In a much needed pep talk after deciding that I wanted to create for a living, I told myself that "sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started".  Although, in the moment, it felt like something I was telling myself to pacify my debilitating fears of failure, it would be the smile inducing afterthought of every new self taught venture I'd find myself dabbling in.

 

" Sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started."

Living creatively...

It really has your emotions all over the place sometimes and it's important to be in tune with yourself enough so that you can differentiate your moods and traits from those caused by your creative frustrations.  I spent this entire past week trying to lift myself out of an exhausted funk and while I tried to create through the feelings, I wasn't satisfied.  It was important to not accredit the lows I was feeling to my art although I was tempted to.  Internalizing things will drive you over edges that you never even knew you were close to.   But I'm learning that it is also important to feel these things as they come, for a couple reasons: 

1) Denying them brings more pain than they bring themselves. 
2) They're the dark places that show you how brightly your light can shine.  

I think the problem a lot of artists face pertaining to inspiration is that they try to separate their creative side from their real lives and the space they put between the two is evident in their art.  You can sometimes see and feel the detachment in the music, the visuals, the lifestyle.  I've done it - still do, occasionally.  While I don't think there is a right or wrong way to create, I do think that we often try to protect ourselves from the very things sent to set us free.  

 

I admire raw skill. It's not something I think I have in any of my crafts - maybe with the exception of writing but I've been doing that since about 2002 so it's hard to tell what's raw and what is a result of practice.  The rawest thing about my art is my passion and the way I'm inspired.  It's hard to explain it but the way my mind overworks plays a huge role in the way I perceive the things I see/ hear/ feel and while it works for my art from time to time, it's painful in my regular life.  Those overthinking, over-analytical tendencies that drives me to sabotage friendships and relationships are my greatest allies, creatively. 

 

 

I'm sincerely "sensitive about my shit".  Saying that always gets a few chuckles in response for any creative but for so many of us, it's the realest shit we'll ever quote.  It's not just sensitivity by way of criticism but in everything.

In the middle of my last project (TBYC), I saw a couple creatives in my area take bits and pieces from my promotional material and copy it (verbatim) for their own projects.  I won't lie, it did make me feel a way.  Not as far as competition goes as I don't compete with my fellow creatives. I will always believe that there is enough success and inspiration and opportunities to go around several times.  I also am a firm believer in that "what is for me will always be for me".  It made me feel a way because what they were taking a few days to replicate took me 9 months to plan and execute.  It didn't take me 9 months to come up with a good idea, it took me 9 months to sit with my concept, to plan it out, to involve other creatives who helped make it happen, to sync schedules with busy individuals, to revamp parts of it and allow it to evolve.  It took me 9 months to decide that the direction I was taking this idea would satisfy my vision for it and to see it all through while fighting discouragement from all sides.  What I took 9 months to birth, others took 3 seconds to see and decide that they liked it enough to redo it exactly as it had already been done.

I kept hearing "nothing is original" and while I know that to be true, in essence, I only ever hear it from those creatives who don't take enough time to allow their inspiration to evolve past what they saw/ heard another creative do.  It took me some time to accept and move past this enough to not allow it to make me dislike these individuals but it still taints their creative integrity in my eyes and it does make me not want to work too closely with them.  Forgive me for being human enough to feel that way.  I don't knock anyone's art.  I know the kind of faith it takes to put yourself out there for the world to see and potentially rip to shreds.  I know what lacking inspiration feels like (even while having several projects in my queue).  I've also grown to learn to not knock the most "unoriginal" art, even if it was "inspired" by me in whatever way because: 

1) What is for me (won't stop being for me because of those who potentially try to intercept it) will always be for me.
2) I know what it's like to be lacking inspiration/ direction. 
3) It inspires me to level up.  


 

I've consistently tried to emphasize my humility so those who don't know me personally won't think I'm full of myself but it no longer pleases me to do so.  You will know a tree by the fruit it yields so I'll allow my work to speak for me.  

I'm honored to be an artist.  As cliche as it sounds, I feel like it's something that chose me, as it has so many others that I've been blessed to meet, know and learn from.  Through the frustration, the moments of uncertainty, the times when I wish I would have gotten my degree and gone to law school instead; I'm still learning who I am, what I'm capable of and that there is little outside of my reach.  

This process isn't a polished one.  In everything I do I aim to be true to my passion, not let the money dictate my direction and protect my creative integrity at all costs. I hope it's enough to take me to my top.