Paint Slapped Over Your Finished Canvas Is Not Art

03/09/2014 · 17 comments

in Creating Your Identity, For The Love Of God, Noa Gavin

LOFB - NoaI write a lot.

I write every day. I write on here, for a couple of people who think it’s apparently wise to pay me to do so, and also I write short stories and novel-ish things, which is something I don’t talk about a lot.

As with most things, I start writing novels and stories with little information and a lot of the “eh, just fuckin’ do it,” attitude. I start with 3 things in mind: a rough idea of the main character, the rough idea of the ending, and a scene I really want to see.

The best part about writing with this little information is that the character and the story have the room and space to develop totally on their own, seemingly independent of my input. By the end, there’s this whole person on the page, with hopes and dreams and desires and jokes that it feels like I didn’t come up with. They develop on their own and no amount of shoehorning on my part makes them that way. It only makes them disingenuous.

You know, sort of like people.

The hardest thing for me to accept is the willingness people have to let someone or something define who they are entirely. It’s different for everyone, but I see it so much. People consider themselves defined solely by their political affiliation, religion, spouse, child, job, parents, friends. Whether it’s good or most likely bad, allowing something outside of who you are to define you solely is bad. It’s bad. 

There’s nothing wrong with making these things a part of your identity, for sure. My husband and our life is part of my identity, but he alone and our marriage do not define me totally. Nor does my family, or my friends.

That wasn’t always the case though.

There’s a lot of pressure in our society to fit in to the molds that are given to us by others. Be a good girl, be sensitive and sweet, be strong, don’t cry, don’t talk back, don’t believe this or that, don’t ask, don’t tell, be yourself only in so much as it fits what we deem acceptable. The ‘we’ part is ever changing.

In school, I floated between being a cheerleader and a skater and a country girl and a drama kid and a ton of other things, but it was clear to me that only one of those at a time was really acceptable. There were groups you either did or did not belong to, and to float between them was not okay.

In floating around and being shoved around, I learned to play the ‘cool girl’ pretty well. I played at being above cheerleading, though I really loved it. I played at being above drama and theatre, though I loved it. I was country because it was expected of me, but it wasn’t me. I was skater because they were fringe and so was I, and they, at least, didn’t give a fuck who I was because it’s not very punk rock to judge.

original-8257-1393514926-2Must Read: The psyche of Hollywood Cool Girls

I learned to play this person over everything in my life. I never loved anything lest I be judged for it, was everyone’s friend, every boy’s girl, the right person for everything right then and there.

And it all collapsed in on itself because that’s not an identity. That’s a fucking moving box–something for everyone, something everyone can use, no opinions, no loves, no ideas, just a hollow container to be filled by anyone at anytime. Just like that box, eventually it all falls apart.

I had to learn to have opinions. To learn that I’m not the right person for everyone, whether romantically, for friendship, and jobs. I had to learn to say what I loved and own it without fear. I had to learn to make decisions based on who I wanted to be and who I knew myself to be deep down.

At first, it was very hard, because I couldn’t handle not being liked by someone else. I couldn’t handle being angry with someone, or having an unpopular opinion. I didn’t want to be seen as a loudmouth, or as someone who was too opinionated.

Over time it got easier and easier and live got better and better. Experiences became deeper, life was more vibrant. I learned to trust people, to make real friends, to argue without losing everything, to state how I felt without fear.

Over time, I became me. I’m not for everyone, but I also don’t want to be.

Don’t let someone paint over your art and tell you it’s better this way, with their input. Before you know it, there will be no glimmer of the true beauty and art underneath all that other paint, until you’re just a mishmash of input and no real structure. Your art is beautiful. Display it fearlessly.

Moving Box-Noa

Heather Rhodes March 10, 2014 at 9:08 am

I loved reading this…because this is exactly where I am! I finally feel like I am coming out of my shell too, finding something for myself! Thank you! This is why I love blogging, because it so nice to find people out there where you know you are not alone in the world. I am writing books too – or trying anyway-ha. I have started a new blog as well, it comes out next week! Well- it will look pretty next week. ha Thanks again! :)

Noa March 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Blogging is such a great connecter of people.

Roxie March 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

Not being accepted or liked is one thing, but when you get abused by your peers, and the teachers tell you it’s your fault for being different, and your parents even agree with the teachers, then hiding your canvas under all that paint seems the only way to protect yourself.

Noa March 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Absolutely. Sometimes we have to hide ourselves for self-preservation. I know that in large part, that was a lot of what I had done. We have to seek out a place for ourselves that we can be who we really are, though. In whatever way we can.

Lydia March 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for this. You just took a big feeling in my life and put it into words.

Noa March 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Awesome! Be you, Lady!

Abby March 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Yup. That’s why I wrote that “Measuring Up” post because I think that it’s so easy to let trying to please everyone cloud pleasing yourself (not in a dirty way, mind you. That came out wrong.) It’s unrealistic to assume that whatever you’ve made—art, writing, cooking—is something that everyone everywhere should embrace. And even though it’s hard to stop measuring things that are measurable, the best things don’t measure well by conventional means.

The most popular isn’t necessarily the “best,” and personally I don’t want to mirror what’s around me, especially if it’s mediocre.

But it’s so damn hard NOT to let something define you, especially a failure or what you perceive as a flaw. At least that’s how it is for me. I’m still trying to figure out this whole identity thing, and even though I have an idea of who I am or whatever, it’s hard to hold on to that at times, to accept that it’s not always the “popular” choice. But I’m glad to know others are out there–you, most certainly included–who get it.

Rock on, sister friend.
Abby recently posted..Revealing Some Lady Parts

Noa March 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

It’s the worst to try to stand out, to try and do something different. People hate that shit, but you know what? That’s why I love you. Because you don’t take no shit.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner March 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Well said!
Johi Kokjohn-Wagner recently posted..More Drawrings with the Things

Noa March 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Thank ya much!

April March 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I never defined myself until I was an adult. I was whatever I wanted to be at that moment. It was beautiful and freeing and I could wear leather and be crass and dangerous. And the next morning I could go to church and be innocent and wholesome. I just wore the personality that fit me that day. At work I was an engineer. After work I was whatever, wherever, whoever.

And then I was diagnosed with cancer. What a terrifyingly beautiful moment. Forced to face my own mortality for a moment. I realized that what I really am….compassionate, caring, steadfast, loving, and loyal. I am a friend.

And because of that, I am begging you to read my blog today. Begging. My friend needs my help (and yours). And her story is so much broader and more compelling than mine is.

And a stickler for grammar…. I’m totally a stickler for grammar. Um, not so much the part about not starting sentences with ‘and’ or having complete non-run-on sentences. More the kind that knows that to, two, and too are three different words and using them properly IS IMPORTANT. I’m a stickler for that. Also, the Oxford Comma, I am a valiant defender of the Oxford Comma.
April recently posted..Amazing Anne

Noa March 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I’m glad that you know who you are now! Funny how sometimes the worst things do good things for us. I hope everything works out well for Anne!

Valerie March 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Learning that I’m not the right person for everyone is still something I struggle with. Well said!!!


Valerie recently posted..Let’s laugh like Monday isn’t going to ass rape us tomorrow

Noa March 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Ugh. It’s the worst, man.

Jana March 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm

“At first, it was very hard, because I couldn’t handle not being liked by someone else. I couldn’t handle being angry with someone, or having an unpopular opinion. I didn’t want to be seen as a loudmouth, or as someone who was too opinionated.”

My dear, it sounds like you didn’t want to be a bitch back then. I’m SO glad you got over that nonsense!
Jana recently posted..An Elephant Stepped on Me

Noa March 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I didn’t wanna be a bitch! I wanted to be so friendly. Now, well…I’m here.

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