So I've been thinking a lot today about our perceptions of happiness, bouts of depression and the events that bring on both. It's all about perception. I was listening to Paramore when I caught a lyric that just really spoke to me (again, anyway. This is the lyric that inspired me to get the album artwork from Brand New Eyes tattooed to my thigh.):
"It's all about the exposure, the lense," I told her;
The angles were all wrong, now she's ripping wings off of butterflies.
Which the title in it of itself is part of all of this. Brand New Eyes. I don't know about anyone else, but I honestly thought that butterflies were magical when I was little. I thought that if one landed on you that it was good luck. We build up such idealistic fantasies as children that quickly get ripped apart like the wings off of butterflies and dissected as we get older and come to face the harsh realities of the real world. Which, in a way, aren't really as harsh as we think. It's because our perceptions have changed.
As hard as it is, there is a way to find positivity in any situation. Do not ever get me wrong on this, I know what it's like to be completely losing your mind with depression and anxiety, but it's about perception. And if you want to change your perception on something, find the negative patterns in your life and thoughts. Dissect them. Find your triggers and beat them with a metaphorical hammer. You can overcome this.
For me, it was sensing abandonment. And I could tell when I was sensing it because my throat would get numb and clench itself. It's not the first symptom, but it's definitely the most noticeable. The first would definitely have to be picking at my cuticles, but it's just a constant thing at this point.
The most ridiculous thing about my predicament was that at my worst point, a lot of things made me think people would abandon me. Because I have such a caregiver/mom type personality, I often blame myself for things totally out of my control like a friend being in a bad mood before I even saw them. I told myself that it was my fault that they didn't feel happy. So even when I got a bad grade on a test I would immediately go into panic mode with thoughts about my dad thinking I'm stupid and leaving me out to dry because I'm wasting his money all racing through my head. Even that sentence is jumbled because it made me feel panicky, but I have to talk about these things:
If this post could grace the eyes of any single person that feels like this and it comforts them to know they aren't alone, I can rest peacefully. That's actually why I created my We Are Never Alone series, but that was inspired by a Wonder Years album rather than Paramore. I totally shouldn't get into that though, this novel will triple in length in like two seconds.
TLDR; make a pattern of focusing on the positive and solutions rather than the negative and reactions. A friend once told me that even a bad trip is a good trip because we learn something from bad trips, and that is absolutely no different from life; the times where I was thrown into a situation where I wasn't in control were the times where I really found myself. Without the bad times we wouldn't even know what a good time is.
**EDIT: The work pictured below as well as the Who's Yin? half of my diptych with me and Mary Heather have both been accepted into the JMU Juried Undergrad Show. Yippie!
A ripple in our design causes us to grow. We are like trees with great branches, growing tall and wide. Our pain gives us beauty. Seize opportunity. These ripples are signs. Despite our destinies, we are given the illusion of choice. You can choose joy, you can choose sadness, it's your life.
Yesterday was ridiculously inspiring. A friend started a conversation with me about self-worth, saying that we should essentially never sell ourselves short. In the class I went to after that, I realized that not only have I been negligent to my self-worth, but I have had poor expectations and therefore a lower opinion of others' worth. We were editing mini-lessons we had written and I realized that a great deal of it was under-stimulating because I didn't think kindergarteners could think critically; it wasn't engaging. I was merely asking questions for them to fill in the blanks. They wouldn't be learning anything. And then I thought about art-making itself. 75% of art-making is thought. If I'm not teaching students to think, then how will they come to appreciate art the same way that I do?
No one is ever going to realize their self-worth if they aren't pushed. They won't push themselves if they feel worthless. It's my job as an aspiring educator to inspire them to feel worthy, to try new things, and to grow.
To conclude this post, I decided that last night in my power yoga class, which I knew Jess was cookin' up a tough one, that I was going to push myself farther than I have before. I told myself every time I wanted to rest that I could hold the pose for just one more breath. And you know what? I did for the most part. I was truly surprised. After class Gina , Mary Heather , and I worked on headstands. Even though this is a preliminary shot (we decided to take a picture after I had tired myself out the first time and I couldn't hold still for a clear picture), I was able to raise into a headstand without someone other than the wall helping me. It might seem small to a lot of you, especially since I still needed the wall, but I have never been so proud of myself haha. I always thought I lacked any physical ability. It's not that I didn't try, but I never wanted to keep trying until I got it (like with art). Appreciate even your smallest accomplishments, guys. Go out and build your self-worth!
My name is Allison Nickens. I graduated from James Madison University with a BFA in Fine Art in 2015. After graduation I began live painting at music and arts festivals and at local shows, and still continue to show and sell my work around Harrisonburg,VA.
Upcoming Shows & Events
Valley Fusion Festival
Solo Show at The Camel
Solo Show at Restless Moons Brewing