What I didn't realize at the time was that I was searching for something else. In a sense, I was searching for myself. I was on a quest for validation and approval and my artwork was a roadmap.
I didn't know that at the time.
I had this idea that I would create a vessel – a vessel in which I could pour myself into and people would see it and value it and somehow they would value me. I would be loved. I would be cherished. I would live forever and never be forgotten.
The danger in creating these false icons is apparent now. Seeking approval from others is a recipe for disaster. It's a wild beast that will always be hungry and never be satisfied. The roadmap was there, but I could not read it. What's worse is that I thought I could.
As I steamrolled ahead, believing always that I was heading in the right direction, I grew further and further from myself. When you take what's raw and vulnerable and bleeding and put it in a frame and hang it on a wall and harden yourself to criticism and cruelty, that gap grows a little more. Eventually it grows so far, that you can hardly recognize yourself even though it is laid bare and naked for all to see.
The truth is that illusions are fragile things. We give them strength. We give them power. But in actuality, the imaginary constructs can be shattered with a word. It's not "Abracadabra" or "Shazam". The word is, "permission". It might seem completely ordinary and unremarkable, but there's a power in its meaning.
When you give yourself permission to love yourself, you give yourself the greatest gift. This love is not conditional. This love does not need to be proved or reassured. When you give yourself permission, you give yourself freedom. You give yourself power – the kind of power that cannot be taken away. This power is personal power and the source resides in the deepest part of each of us.
When I claimed this power for myself, I understood, maybe for the first time, why I did what I did. In understanding ourselves better and more fully, we allow ourselves the opportunity to create from a genuine and true place. And when I say, "create" I don't simply mean artwork or jewelry, but how we manifest our lives.