Sunday, May 7, 2017
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
A thought just fluttered through my mind. It was profound. At least to me.
There are a few areas of life that I have always drawn back from: the artistic ones. Things like music, painting, creating, even cooking. I spent time playing cello, making jewelry and doing a few doodles, but to be honest, creativity scared me. Now that I am an adult (or something) I can confidently say that I was scared of being judged on the results of my creativity. Art class never seemed like a place to explore and be free. It was a competition. At least, that was the message I somehow received. And so, as the years went on, I stopped being creative. I stopped doodling on my notebooks and I stopped trying to join the choir and I stopped playing cello in groups. Why? Because I was scared. Of not being good enough.
Now the basic fear of judgement is one that every person experiences and learns to handle eventually. I, too, have worked to decrease its impact on my life. And I'm pretty happy with my progress. But maybe there is a way to make this easier for the young people in our lives.
My, how talented you are! Wow, you have such a gift. You are so lucky to be so good at this.
This is what we tell people. This is what we tell people who are creative. Our words, although meant as compliments, portray a kind of uncontrollable power that has given this person: their ability to be creative. We are pushing the idea that you are born being able to sing, paint, or play. You either are good at being creative or... you didn't receive that gift at birth.
What this means to me and my mind is that the hard work that creative people put into their creations is seen as meaningless. Or rather, it is forgotten. We assume that painting is a skill you either have or do not, not one that you train for. We don't congratulate people on the hard work and the endless hours that they have given. We congratulate people on having been lucky enough to receive a gift from fate. And how disrespectful is that? I know, it's not on purpose. We don't always mean what we say. But an opera singer should be praised for the work that they do to get to where they are just as much as an doctor.
I admit, I believe that some skills come easier to some people. That's just the way things are. But need that shape our perception of their hard work? No creator has gotten to where they are without hard work, for which every person deserves praise.
Friday, September 30, 2016
7. Solitude. Anchorage is a city, but Alaska is a vast wilderness. There is something fascinating about traveling for miles and not seeing another soul. I love planning where you will get gas because eventually you will be two far from a gas station to think twice. I love walking over tundra in the foothills of Denali and seeing no man-made trails around. I love the internal quiet that comes over you when you realize the sheer expanse of nature around you.
8. Coffee. When I watch someone make a shot of espresso I try to gauge how many pounds of pressure they are using to press down the grounds. I watch the shot glass filling and try to see the three layers of important stuff. I love how Alaska is home to so many little drive-through coffee shacks that I can make pro/con lists and collect punch cards from my favorites. And although I really like my plain-old coffee or simple latte, I love seeing the seasonal creations and crazy names. Besides, coffee is yummy. AND there's something about coffee in Germany that is... just different. And don't you dare say something about how 'well that's because coffee much stronger in Germany' or whatever. Cuz no. Coffee is more complicated than that. And deserves more respect than that.
9. Fashion. Well, Alaskan fashion. Alaskans are not know for good fashion sense. Rather... the opposite. However, we have a few things down: colorful skirt/tights/clogs combinations; winter skirts (yeeeah!); hand-made, local jewelry; winter sandals (as long as there's no fresh snow, why not?); mukluks, kuspuks, Alaska Grown, State-Fair-products and everything Alaskan.
10. Winter. Yeah, this one makes sense, right? sheesh. Alaskans. Did you know that when the first snow comes I tend to run outside and dance around? I have run out of class, AFS events and peaceful evenings in my apartment to do this. Snow makes me feel cozy inside. The crisp winter air is a fresh reminder of how beauty hides everywhere we look. Have you ever looked outside your window in the dark of winter and seen the brightness that snow shares with the world despite the darkness around it. Have you ever seen the vast white wilderness around you sparkle before your eyes? Ugh. I love squeaky snow under my boots, I love frost on my eyelashes, I love the sight of undisturbed fresh show on the street. And I really miss putting on my skis, V2ing across the stadium and feeling like I am flying...
The plane landed in Frankfurt we started cheering and clapping. And boy, were we nervous. Some kids had spent the trip crying, others were shaking, but all seemed affected by this intense energy that swarmed around us: we were moving abroad.
Someone asked what 'baggage claim' was in German and we were suddenly struck with the fear of being completely lost in a foreign airport in a foreign language. But the AFS volunteers ferried us to our bags and then to the meeting hall where we waited for our trains. I remember wondering what 'Hbf' stood for. It was on my name tag: Dresden Hbf. When the time came to catch my train my group was taken down through the maze of escalators to the fancy fast trains. Here, I made my second friend. Among the 10 of us waiting on the track, there was one other tall, light-haired and awkwardly pale girl who was also dying in the heat. Somehow we knew we had something in common - a home in a place with snow.
I was not self-confident, at least not on the inside. I put up a facade to the outside world in an attempt to hide the reality in my mind. I doubted myself and compared myself relentlessly to the unrealistic standards I perceived. I had trouble trusting anyone - adults, friends, myself. All in all, I guess some of it was just a teenager surrounded by other teenagers. But honestly? It hurt. And it felt a lot more difficult than it was supposed to.