Monday, May 19, 2014

The In-Crowd

Art Journal page, May 2014
For most of my adult life I lamented the fact that whatever work I was doing, and that would be employed work, never felt like it was my work...the work I was supposed to be doing.  This work that never felt like my own would always consist of a good job with responsibility that more often than not paid me enough to live a shabby chic lifestyle.

I can't tell you how many times (five, actually) I imagined getting a Master's Degree or a specialized certificate in something that would legitimize my latest interest in some area of work, hoping an "expensive piece of paper" would buy my ownership of something to hang my hat on.  I even went so far, on each of those five occasions, as applying to various programs in different places, doing all the legwork and the paperwork, and actually getting accepted.  Whereupon I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do after all.

Really, I just longed to be part of the in-crowd ~ which I saw as women who knew what they wanted to do with their lives (and those were mostly artists, in my view), and actually did it.

What I became, instead of specializing in any one thing, was a generalist.  A Jill of all trades.  Literally.  As I took on a variety of tasks in my usually management-level jobs with nonprofit organizations, eventually I could have run an organization completely on my own.

And in retrospect, generalist is exactly what I became in my creative life as well.  I can do it all now, or have done it, and done it competently.  But I've still never felt like part of the in-crowd, despite trying really hard in more than one medium.  Really, I think I've just been trying on different personae in pursuit of self knowledge.

Here I am, pushing 70, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  I'm thinking now that this life for me might really be about never growing up, always being a beginner, always starting afresh.  In my heart of hearts, I think my real work in the world is to discover and accept the fact that being alive and enjoying my life are enough.  When this is over, nothing else will matter anyway.  In the recent words of a dear friend, perhaps I do have too high expectations of myself.


p.s.  This weekend I practically consumed Jo Nesbo's newest standalone Nordic thriller, The Son.  Highly recommended. 

13 comments:

Jacki Long said...

Okay, I am going to say it!
"You, Connie Rose, are a cookie in the oven, you aren't done yet!"
But further, you are an intelligent, over-achieving, caring, perfectionist-in-a-good-way, talented, delicious cookie! And, you are the in-crowd, we should be knocking at your door! So there! ;o)

And, what could be better than that?

Roberta said...

You always write about the same things I am feeling....but you say it much better.

Jan said...

What Jacki said.
As we touched on the other day, I don't think women are encouraged to be focused on one thing. We have been forced to be generalists by our roles going back to hunter (men) gatherer (women)days. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the "in-crowd." Successful women artists who actually make $$$? Or successful women artists who don't need to make $$$?

I have found that there is an in crowd in every arena and I'm not usually in it. Interesting to have cliques at this age. I do my best to ignore them, and realize that there are probably those who think I'm part of an in crowd because of participation in guild committees.

I'm sure many people envy you your diverse talents and the speed that you go from beginner to expert, as well as wishing for the solitude and drive you have.

I know you don't necessarily want or need this kind of response...only to be heard. So: I hear you, and I love that you voice this for yourself and for us.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

This post and the past few others have been very thoughtful and thought provoking ... thank you for such clear expression of where you are in this art making!
I also loved your last post with all the most beautiful colors and I'm sure they will serve you when you begin this journey into painting!

Irene said...

And I am a generalized sort of person who isn't even anything like an artist and who will not leave much behind to show for myself. How do I excuse my existence? I simply live the best way I know how with the idea that I should be as contended as I can be every day and that is all. I have no end product. No proof to of why I was here. Simply a memory of my own happiness and maybe very few people will know about that. There, a whisper in the wind. Out like a candle. xox

Jeannie said...

As Jan pointed out, women are raised to be multi-taskers. We were expected to breed, cook, clean, budget, etc. Our creative time was our "hobby". Women who pursued their craft where thought to do so at the cost of their family. They were gypsies, not responsible, selfish,......Think back to the era of the Noblewomen who were taught the arts, but not how to read or do math. It showed that your family was of high standing. I think the reverse applied to our generation and those right before and after us.
As to the higher degree - they are over rated! LOL! A lawyer friend advised me when I went to school in my 30's - you are getting your card punched. The card will open new doors, even though I already had the skills and knowledge, I didn't have the magic key card.
Have a fabulous week and thanks for always making me think! xo

Maggi said...

Your reflections are always interesting to read Connie. I have never wanted to be part of any in-crowd but you have reminded me that I should pay more attention to who I am and to celebrate that.

MegWeaves said...

I sometimes want to be part of the in-crowd, though I don't know whom I mean by them, but the minute I'm in, I regret it, and most times I leave as quickly as I can. Groups/cliques/crowds look better to me from the outside than in. I had to laugh about the higher degrees, too; I had this idea that I had to, to be counted as a human being of some value, until one day I was sitting in a textile conference hearing all these PhDs and candidates speak, and I thought, gee, they only categorize and describe work other people made, and they themselves don't make anything. I was 42. Better late than never, yeah?

Peggy Lynn said...

I've been reading Marlo Thomas's latest book about a variety of women and their journeys. One woman (I won't name her) eventually found a style all her own and her art now sells for thousands. I've looked at her work, and it's a unique style which is recognizable alright! Years ago that would have impressed me. Nowadays, with learning and trying so many mediums and with so many talented people to follow on-line...I've concluded that I would not want to be that stylized (albeit financially successful) artist after all. Why limit myself? Where is the spice-of-life variety in that? I guess one has to look at the bottom-line. What do we hope to accomplish though our artwork? I am closer to your age than not, Connie, and I think what you are doing and creating is stunning!

Threadpainter said...

Don't you think that as artists we are our own worst enemy ?
Being women, period, means we multi-task ... working out of a dozen compartments in our brain at the same time. ... men, not so much, from my own experience
Your art journals are to die for ! I am so envious !! Painting those collages is your calling ... in my humble opinion.

john said...

This is a crazy good journal page. Really a terrific composition. :-)

Alice said...

I guess you could add, "it's all about the journey."

And another way to think of it...
On my studio wall I have hanging a quotation from John Milton–"A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit embalmed & treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life." Well I don't know about the embalmed part, but I think of your work and comments as definitely possessing a life beyond life. And incidentally, I hope yours is a long & happy one. Goodness, child, 70 is young!

Jan Jackson said...

Connie, once again your words speak to me. In search of "my artist voice" continues ... however, I realize that the journey is more important. The art of discovery (what if) is what started me on my artistic journey and continues to keep me interested. Thank you for this post!