Updated: Nov 12, 2021
2020 was a long hard road of a year. I am very much pleased to see it receding into the distance as we move with cautious optimism into 2021.
I've realized that I enjoy the long term project style of art so I've committed to spending 2021 creating a "Bloom Where You're Planted Oracle Deck", using the Victorian meaning of flowers as my guide. I've put together a rough list of 48 flowers that I intend to include but the list could change as the year enfolds (in other words, I'm still in the planning stages and am not completely ready to be locked down).
First on the list (alphabetically speaking) is Amaryllis. According to the Victorian language of flowers, Amaryllis means "Pride, Passion, Ferocity". I like that. She reminds me of the Queen of Wands with definite overtones of the element of fire.
Amaryllis ties in perfectly with some of my takeaway from 2021 and my ongoing identity crisis.
Early in my art career, I struggled a lot with imposter syndrome. I kept expecting Neil Gaiman's clipboard workers to show up at my door and tell me that I had to get a real job because they were on to me. They'd discovered that I wasn't a real artist.
As I was accepted into more and more art exhibitions and my little pile of awards grew, the imposter syndrome faded a bit. I also learned not to care as much what other people think of me and my work. I'm never going to be mainstream or fit into the category of "normal". I've learned to love being a misfit and all the wonderful weirdness that goes along with it.
In 2020, though, I came face to face with my own struggle with pride and passion.
Art is my passion. I use it as a cornerstone of my spiritual practice. I process and filter my life and personal traumas and events through my art. I've come to rely on it as a sort of self therapy as well as a way of sharing my personal spiritual journey. I've discovered that my art resonated with enough people that it encouraged me on my path.
However, until 2020, I hadn't realized how dependent on my art I'd become as part of my self-identity. I like being an artist. I like identifying as an artist. That identity made me feel special. It fed my ego and became a source of pride.
I lost that in March. I still made art but I'd become dependent on the feedback I got from customers and browsers at markets and festivals. As a child, I was programmed to want positive feedback. I performed well in school because I learned to crave that approval. Doing well in school was the cornerstone of my identity as a child. After I left school, I missed that positive feedback and apparently, have never really shaken that craving for the approval.
I substituted the "good student" identity with the "creative artist" identity. I'd come full circle to the small child who just wanted to belong; who just wanted approval. 2020 opened my eyes to that.
Who was I if I wasn't the "creative artist"? I became unemployed even though I continued to make art. Social media likes and comments just didn't fill that void in me. I wanted that in person approval. I spent a few months as a Census Worker but it was all socially distanced. I enjoyed some aspects of the work but being an enumerator isn't the same as being an artist.
My eyes have been opened to how much of my sense of self I've tied into my identity as an artist and I know it's something that I need to work on. I have value whether I'm unemployed or working for the government or being in my comfort bubble as an artist. I need to evolve beyond that crutch as I know how I floundered when it was taken away.
Moving forward, I've spread my wings a little. I've plopped down in the middle of video making on YouTube and TikTok. I reclaimed my side hustle as Tarot reader (and came face to face with all sort of prejudice). As a teenager, professional Tarot reader would have been my dream job so it feels sort of nice to put that witch hat on. I've got a long road ahead trying to become more comfortable in front of a camera and just learning how videos work, but learning new things is good for me.
I'm expanding and evolving. I'm following my passions and my bliss and trying to learn not to crave approval quite so much; not to need that artist identity to believe I have value. It's a long road but I am ready for it.
Thank you for joining me on the road into 2021.