Thursday, May 3, 2012
No Explanation Necessary.
What does it mean to not want to be seen when you ostensibly don't care what others think and aren't particularly self-conscious about your appearance anyway?
This question is posited to me by my therapist and thus myself this Thursday, May 3.
It started by my question of why I was SOOO terribly invested in Sharon Needles winning Rupaul's Drag Race. Why was the goth girl within so obsessed with seeing her win? When I tried to explain this to Chad (I'm supposed to refer to him as Dr. G-----, but I just don't like that...too formal) I described the "goth girl within" and I even said that when I imagine my true self, she is this dark tortured form. This led to the discussion of the self-sabotaging of my creativity in general. How I can fully imagine costumes for costume parties, but I always wait until it is too late to actualize said costume. How I don't do art anymore and why? I originally stopped because I didn't like being an art major. It ruined artistic expression for me for a long time. And the loss of the fattest, longest-running sketchbook of my life also hampered my artistic expression, but years after both of these events, these have just become excuses.
And the issue is me seeing my art reflected in others. I don't like people to comment on my outfits. I don't like to explain Halloween costumes to others (and I always have to explain, because I have NEVER been a creature that's recognizable to others--literally and costume-wise). I HATED art critiques in college because I don't want my words to accompany my art. Seeing someone looking at me or my art (and I am one of those people that feels my physical shape is an extension of my art) makes me feel naked. The weird thing is that this isn't because I am worried how others perceive me. This isn't that I don't want others to perceive me at all. I just don't want to be confronted with them trying to figure me out. Not many people get me, and that's okay, because that makes the few people that do SO special to me. In high school when I dressed in full Gothic regalia almost every day, I knew my real friends were the ones that didn't comment on my shocking appearance...the ones that wordlessly knew I wasn't doing it for attention, I was doing it because I NEED to express myself in a visual way. I am one of those weirdos that feels that all of my body modifications have always existed, they just had to be surfaced, brought to fruition with needles and ink (in that I feel more whole with every self-made change in my appearance and it is a HUGE part of who I am). My self-expression is an obsession and at times I don't have the energy to present myself the way I see myself in my head. And sometimes I don't have the energy to deal with the repercussions of presenting myself the way I feel I truly am.
I have harped on this issue too much, but I suppose it is still something I'm processing. I have to express myself, but I don't seem to want to know others are seeing me as a sore thumb. I don't mind if they keep their thoughts to themselves, but I have this overall vibe from the general public that I am expected to defend my weird choices. I realized today that the point of contention is the point where I try to be nice and explain who I am to others. Why I'm like this...WHAT my costume is. I get defensive because often people are flippant with how I choose to present myself. Like when I died my hair hot pink and a woman asked me if I lost a bet and was simply flabbergasted that I would do this thing on purpose. This is a typical attitude I get from people and this has always left me with the feeling that perhaps others are suppressing their individuality, but this is also something I can't know for sure because for ME the thing that's flabbergasting is when others DON'T express themselves visually. After the tornado I was SO incredibly grateful that I still had my clothes because I'm not sure I would have survived wearing donated clothing for months before I could start collecting my particular garment weirdness again. I'm sure I would have received clothing from all the glorious weirdos in my life, and it would have been magnificent, but at the time I couldn't imagine not having the wealth of hand-me-downs and thrift store treasures I've collected since middle school.
I digress, this moment that I don't enjoy is the one where I try to explain myself, because I firmly believe that art should be interpreted by the viewer--within, in the case where an aspect of me is art. If you want to be thoughtful about what I present to the universe (my art, my writing, my physical self) and send me an email or text msg with your observations after contemplation or if you have genuine thoughtful questions as to why I do what I do, I am very open to that.
Ultimately, the problem is me. I have to be able to say "I don't feel the need to explain my art to you right now." And not worry if that makes me look like an ass. Sometimes I have a hard time being gracious and patient with others and sometimes when I'm particularly raw, I simply don't go out in public because I don't want to explain myself. This is why being goth in the '90s was so easy. People avoided you. Black lipstick was the "Do Not Cross" barrier written on my face. Those that crossed it anyway knew what I was about and accepted me without words. No explanation necessary.
I know this is an issue that not a lot of people understand. Just try to imagine if you looked like a weirdo every day of your life, and you looked that way because it was your idea of beauty and it was how you felt most comfortable in your skin, and others seemed taken-aback and shocked by your appearance EVERY DAY and felt the need to comment. Obvious things like "You have a deer tattoo on your arm!" and "That dress looks like it's from the '70s." etc. Every article of your physical being up for display and comment every day. I realize these comments are something that a lot of more extroverted people wouldn't mind fielding day in and day out, but it sucks me dry. Like a husk. It's a huge source of cognitive dissonance for me because I simply cannot leave the house unless I look how I feel...unless my visual form represents the innards of me, but when I'm a husk, I can't deal with the confusion my appearance causes in others.
So, the crux of all of this blather is that I somehow need to stop responding to the comments. I need to NOT explain my art and do it anyway. If I show up at work with fishnets on my arms on a regular Tuesday, I will act as if nothing is awry, because NOTHING IS AWRY. And when a stranger asks why, I will say "Because I like fishnets" or "I don't feel the need to explain my art to you" or "Why not?" or "Why are you wearing bracelets on your arms?" or perhaps I'll unearth the familiar and effective scowl. And part two of this transformation needs to actualize in the reactions of others having no effect on my energy. I can't let inane comments have influence on how I feel or how I present myself. I need to create more than I currently do. I can't let past suppressions of my expression dictate my current expression of self.
Again, thank you, Sharon Needles.