On the outside looking in

How do you find your way in a world where everything is familiar and long ago thoughts, ideas and beliefs begin to creep into your being once again? Twenty years ago I answered this question by applying to college in another city and upon acceptance of my application moved away as quickly as I could at the age of 19.

I don’t want to do that again, but the idea of doing it continues to pop into my head. My closest in real life friends live a world away offline but online they are right beside me via Skype, email and Facebook. These are people I went to college with or are childhood friends with whom I skipped, walked and played hide and go seek with. I see them once per year or even less at times. I miss them greatly at this time of year.

It’s so difficult moving back to the city you grew up in and making strong connections especially when you live alone, work alone and choose to associate with very few people offline most days due to financial constraints, past wrongs and simply opposing belief systems.

So right now, I’m on the inside looking out the studio window and don’t know where to go, who to talk to or what to do and it’s driving me crazy! I don’t want to teach art classes or be involved in the arts offline. It’s not my domain. Really. I’m an online activist and content creator much more so than an offline one. Or maybe it’s just because I don’t know how to do it? Or I don’t know how to take what’s in my head about working online and put that knowledge down on paper and teach it.

People from various organizations are contacting me to come and speak or teach workshops. I don’t know how to do that. If you want me to do that you need to help me. Push me. Pay me. Really. I don’t know where to begin in trying to navigate the grant system or how to apply for an art gallery opening. You need to set up an actual appointment for me and not leave things so open ended as it’ll be another year or never before I reach a decision. I understand online but not offline.

I find the activist in me is coming out and I’m seeking an organization to join or common interest group and hope that I can find the courage to follow through with that goal before I turn into a peanut. I keep thinking about knitting, sewing and working with fabrics again. I’ve got all the supplies and three sewing machines sitting upstairs waiting to be turned on.

Anyways, life has a way of cycling and repeating itself and it’s not until a decision is made that the loop ends and a new fuller path is presented you.

On the outside looking in is available as a limited edition print on HandmadeCloud.

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10 thoughts on “On the outside looking in”

  1. “It’s so difficult moving back to the city you grew up in and making strong connections especially when you live alone, work alone and choose to associate with very few people offline most days due to financial constraints, past wrongs and simply opposing belief systems.”

    Wow, Jess, these thoughts feel so familiar right now. I’m living in an area where I know some (not all) of the “artsy folk” – from previously being involved in community theatre, summer workshops, festivals and goings-ons… and I really don’t feel connected to any of them on a personal level anymore, having burned my bridges with them a long time ago, nor do I feel like my artwork fits into their structure. I’m just not “cool” around here.

    And I usually don’t care, except that sometimes we get this feeling that we are required to take ourselves offline and function in the “real art world” … whatever the hell that is.
    Oh yes, you have to teach classes and give lectures in order to be taken seriously.

    So I went to a gallery opening tonight, walked around and admired/studied/critiqued the work on display… and realized how off-the-mark my work is, and it made me sad. So I went back home and crawled online, where I feel safe. 😛

  2. Wow Jessica and Tara! Even tho it is odd of me to say, I’m in the same boat! It’s almost reassuring to know that there are some artiststs out there that feels a bit apprehensive to connect with the art world offline. Somedays I feel like I’m not hip enough. Or because I moved away for so long and coming back home, with all my good friends up and gone, its hard for me to develop new friendships in such a small town. Even sometimes, the timid side of me thinks that everyone is all pretentious and are not accepting of newcomers (even though I’ve lived in the same town all my life!), but thats just the cowardly thought in my head. I know its more me than anything!

  3. This is an interesting post and comments above. As someone who has never had a “hometown” (relocated quite often growing up) or had childhood friends that linger into my adult life, I’ve always assumed people that live in the town they grew up in had a larger and stronger network of friends…and I was the one out in the cold (so to speak). This is definitely food for thought.

    While I am enjoying online life I also love the interaction with people as well. I don’t think I’d want to live one type of life exclusively. I have avoided exhibiting in shows (a lot of work and anxiety) and recently did two holiday shows. I realized, as I packed up my booth last night, that the part I enjoyed the most was interacting with other vendors and customers. Perhaps, as artists, you could venture your toes in the offline world that way…if that’s what you’re interested in that is.

    Love your work Jessica. Take care and happy holidays!

  4. Tara, it’s amazing how many great acquaintances I have in real life but the friends are far and few between these days. I have my family though which are my rocks so to speak.

    This community is very small and the circles are just that circles. There is no spiral here or if there is I haven’t discovered it yet to walk into and that is OK. I’ll keep looking.

    Your art is awesome. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. BTW the ACEO’s arrived and they are as awesome as you! xo

  5. Sherie, Yes, I agree it is more me than anything else too. I just don’t see the point is trying to be friends with people who have stolen from me, hurt me or basically ignored me for most of my life.

    I don’t blame anyone for the predicament I find myself in. It really all is my own doing. But I do long to be a part of something and to share my life with someone special.

    But, everyday I’m grateful for the people I’ve met online and for having this blog as an outlet to meet like-minded people and become friends with.

  6. I did one show this year Liane that I also sold at last year. Sadly, I was sick at this year’s show and couldn’t give it all I had. It was a still a good success though but I don’t think I’ll be going back next year.

    I’m really planning to change things up online in the new year so that I do not need to be glued to a computer 24/7 :)

    I have a small network of girlfriends that I grew up with that I’m still friends with to this day. I’ve known these women for over 30 years! I have not retained friends from high school. It wasn’t until reaching college that I began to form bonds with people again.

  7. Our community is the same, and the circles are very cliquish too. Reminiscent of high school. Even when I was an active participant in local events, I never wanted to compromise my own voice to endear myself to the artsy-fartsy group.

    Glad to hear the prints arrived! Joe just brought in our mail 20 minutes ago, and your card was included. Thank you!! 😀

    Curious to hear why you might not attend the Harbor Station show next year? I thought you enjoyed it.

  8. I did enjoy the show however the sales and attendance just wasn’t there this year. Many of the exhibitors are questioning whether it’s available show to continue doing. i’m thinking I like online better for now anyways.

    So glad the card arrived Tara! Merry Merry!

  9. Jessica- I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, though this is the first time I have ever felt the urge to comment. I think that you are a strong woman and a talented artist. I think you would be an excellent workshop instructor (most definitely to be paid for said services) , as you possess skills and TALENT that many lack. You say that you are not comfortable in the “offline” mode…but it is simply fear. And that is OK. Its EASY online…the fear of rejection is diminished through the protection of our computer screens. Luckily what you desire could easily be obtained in the virtual domain…start with a google search for artists grants, see where that takes you. E-mail an old university professor, see if they have any solid advice. Getting your work in an art gallery is the easiest task at hand… I work in a contemporary art gallery here in California…most galleries now prefer that you mail them a disc with images, bio & statement…many will even take portfolio submissions via e-mail. Search for a gallery whose aesthetic you admire and works with your art and send them your work. I have found you to be a continuing source of inspiration, both as an artist and as a woman, and i know that whatever you choose to do, you will succeed.

    good luck!

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