Updated: Dec 29, 2021
If you have ever been an artist you know the fierce silent competition that floods every art class. I am convinced that this competition is more fierce than the sports events I see because this competition isn’t fought in public, but is fought in hidden silence. It is competition internally and externally where the only person who can tell you, you have won is yourself, but you can't because you can't stop the fight to be better, to be more, to be different, to be enough. Each person fights against themselves to prove that they are an artist but measuring the bar based on the room around them. They fight to meet the standards of being called an artist by trying to be the best in the class. We never talk about this competition, but we all know it’s there. In silence we cry, we get angry, we fight, we compare, strive, we win and lose, fight and give up. If you chose to fight the battle seems like it never ends, but if you give up no one will judge you, in fact, they'll say you made the right choice and you will try to leave that room behind. We compete to create something that was never a competition. But the passion of it all, the fierceness of the silent battles we thought no one heard actually created waves of sound in the atmosphere. These sounds echoed with colors, shapes, and forms that came to life in the works of each of our hands, shouting our silent voices. Separately we tried to be the best, we tried to create beauty but little did we know that together all along we had written a symphony. If we just for a moment took a step back and stopped competing against each other to prove to ourselves what was always true we would have seen, we are all artists, we are all good enough and together we made more beauty than a single person alone could.
I have always been a part of this battle. I needed to be different. To be different meant to be seen, to be worthy, to be of value. If I could be different it meant that I had a unique beauty no one else did and that somehow made me seen and special. The things I have done to set myself apart remain and I don't regret it because I found a way that I can call my own; call me. I can say no one showed this, I chose this for myself, this is my contribution to the masterpiece we call life. I think this silent battle we all faced in art class wasn't wrong. I think we all needed it in some way because while we thought we were fighting against each other we were really fighting the battle for self-acceptance and discovery. All along we poured ourselves out answering the question of who am I? How am I enough? How am I different but the same? All along we were creating reflections of us, that answer these questions yet we were too blind to see it. All along we created works that showed us, us, and our growth in each season. No one can convince me growth isn't beautiful. Have you ever watched a child grow? Each year passes and each year holds different beauty, it is not less or more, just different, equally beautiful, and unique. Did you know that along with your fingerprints, your heartbeat, your ears, and even butt yes I said butt, are uniquely yours, no one else will have the same as you. Things may look the same, sound the same, yet there will be a slight difference. All along we stood apart because we never truly looked the same. All along we were seen because it’s hard not to see the difference. In every way, we compared we saw differences. How I wish I knew then that to be different isn't wrong just a different beautiful. All along we were unique, enough. All along we were us, beautiful, artworks ourselves. Artworks are always a work in progress. You can change them, add, stop, destroy and start over as much as you want. This is our every growing and changing lives. Different, but beautiful.
I start this post this way because I have been trying to discover what role art has in my life anymore. Why it’s so important to me? It’s ironic because I am an art teacher for an entire school, and yet I have forgotten why? I stopped making art as the other priorities in my life took hold. Priorities of standards needed to be met, lessons that needed to be learned and taught. Priorities of stability, protection, health, relationship, work, healing. I found myself finally safe, stable, ok in these priorities, and yet I felt I was missing something. I teach math. Math is predictable, always a right answer, there is an order to things that have a calculated result. I can look ahead and see exactly how to solve it and what that result looks like, I am in control with math. I realized this part of me that loves math, that prioritized the things I needed for a calculated result only resulted in a controlled bound life, lacking passion.
As I stopped fighting that silent battle in art class and put down my brush, I traded it for lists, for control. I thought that all this would result in joy, happiness, a well-rounded life, after all, art was reckless emotion, and emotion unchecked, uncontrolled leads to destruction. That if I could use these to find love it would be love, a love that is safe, happy, and alive. But I found that as I looked for this love every time it was lacking something. The formula for love in relationships, life, and joy wasn't adding up, and all along I couldn't stop and contain the creating. I couldn't stop myself from dreaming, hoping for fantasies that I know logically make no sense, isn't practical or controlled. I couldn't stop the hopeless, optimistic, romantic I deemed as a child-like gift that could be set down because eventually, you have to grow up and stop playing with toys. Yet every art class I found myself coming more alive, more passionate, more myself than any math class. Every time I tried to control my expression it never came out good, and always found a way to seep through creating a life of its own. In the coffees I make, the dishes I cook, the clothes I wear, the way I talk. I tried to contain the artist but she refused to be contained. She spilled out into words that painted pictures of emotions and told stories of things I wouldn't openly let her express because I thought she need to be grown up. So she wrote and filled tons of notebooks with just words, and they took on an artistic form of their own. Here I let her create. I let her live, in hidden silence.
In 10th grade, I painted a tryptic painting of a cage that had burst open with poetry because it could no longer contain the expression of self inside and a hummingbird that was resting ready to take off and fly. I have always loved to write but always kept it to myself. I have filled so many notebooks with just words you could turn into books. I have written more songs with just words flowing from my mouth than I couldn't ever contain on paper. But this too I couldn't share, because I was convinced this couldn't be set free, if it were it had to be controlled, meet the lists expectations, and not push the boundaries. Each blog post I have written was controlled. I thought it through, order each letter with purpose. I had a passion to write and tell the world all I had to share but I stopped myself. I stopped adding detail because I told myself no one wanted to read it, it’s too long. It wasn't important yet the artist wants detail to paint pictures, to drop people into my world while they are worlds apart. I was told I had to write a newsletter and update everyone on my life to keep supporters and yet every time I did it felt like a job, a burden where I had to just meet that list and I just couldn't bring myself to write anymore, no matter how important a priority I know it is. I stopped wanting to write and the idea of writing felt strenuous. I stopped wanting to prepare for art class because I had put such tight guidelines on what needed to happen. I stopped the flow. There was everything that was needed yet instead of the formula I had come up with for life to calculate the desired outcome working, it was missing a variable.
The variable that is missing I found as I allowed myself to accept who GOD says I am and allow myself to write with no boundaries. Something I haven't done in a while, but once I started I couldn't stop, like the cage burst open. Post after post I sent out the words I kept behind locked bars for the world to see, and the artist came to life with order and I saw how I need both to solve the equation.
I need the mathematician. I need the order she brings, the understanding, the organization, the safety, the calculating self, but I also need the artist. I thought that once I walked away from that battle and traded my brush for lists the battle would stop, yet I have discovered I can never leave the art room. I can only sit there in defeat holding what the world has convinced me is right and wish I were creating instead. I can stuff her down but she cannot be contained, she cannot disappear because she is a true expression of who I am. Art is not childish, or something I need to grow up from, art is passion, an expression of who I am. The artist is unique, beautiful and different, and doesn't need to be silenced. She is a gift that isn't childish but is a color on my canvas that makes the artwork come to life. I have discovered I am a mathematician but am also an artist, and it’s ok for them to coexist. I cannot choose one or the other because where there is passion without control there is destruction, but where there is control without passion there is no joy, no love, no life.
I can't control if you think my writing is beautiful, worth reading, or of value. I can't control if you believe what I am posting is relevant, should even be posted or shared. I cannot control what needs to be. I cannot control the silent battles expectations and standards they try to put on me as we did in art class. But I can control if I will accept those standards or if I will see that they were never relevant, a definition of me, success or value. I am back in the room, I never truly left now, but this time I am changing the battle. I now see the value of both perspectives and what they produce. I need what I need but I need to have desire to make it come alive. I am changing the battle by being un-apolitically free to create and be me. I am changing the battle by recognizing difference as beauty. I am changing the battle because it is no longer a battle against the world and everyone in that room but against how much I am willing to discover, accept and just be me. The battle is against me and I no longer see the mistakes, the loss of control as bad, but a learning experience, and how beautiful do the trees look when they are growing's, blossoming, changing. How beautiful is it to learn from your mistakes, grow and create something better?
This blog, how I use social media and simply live is going to start to look different. It will change again and again as I discover who I am, and what I want to share. There will be randomness, yet order. There will be straight-to-point messages and long poetic ones when I want to paint a picture. There will be days of order and days of randomness. I will no longer apologize, deny or contain who I am to live up to silent and loud standards because I cannot control the reaction or thoughts, of what others choose. I will just continue to be me, someone who works hard every day to love. I will continue to live and grow in love, in this discovery of life, purpose, who I am, and GOD. I'm so excited to see what Math + Art = X, who knows? Maybe it’s what I'm hoping for, maybe it'll change again. All I know for sure is I love this masterpiece called life I am painting, each stroke is beautiful and has a purpose even the mistakes.
I am so grateful to GOD for making me excel and love both art and math, and then revealing to me their purpose. I think it’s so
cool that 7 years ago He had me paint a picture of what would happen when I finally opened the cage and let the emotions and who I am flow. Freedom is here. Will you stay behind locked bars or will you learn to rise above the battle and fly with me?
Destiny A Schuett.