Monkey-Killing – #Atozchallenge

I’ve always loved expressing myself in creative ways. When I was younger, some people around me were astonished by the ways I perceived the world around me; that I noticed details that they didn’t see because they immediately applied familiar patterns which made the world easier to understand but also blinded them towards particular things. When I was asked what I wanted to be as a grown-up, the answer was clear to me – an artist, I said. People smiled, of course, as you would, patted me on the head and gave me crayons and sketchbooks and watercolours as birthday presents, with a little wink. Nobody took my wish for serious business. It’ll pass, reality will catch up with her, they said behind my back. And it did.

When I left school with 19, I still wanted to be an artist. Each sneering, each disapproving look and each ridiculing comment given by other people, be it family, friends or complete strangers, cut away chunks of my dream, my hard work, my pride in my own abilities. I probably could have delt with that. But then somebody very close to me came along and shattered all that was left inside. The person who allegedly supported me most, one day – out of the blue – yelled at me: “You are NOT GOOD ENOUGH to do this for a living! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!” After this, I was gone. The light was dimmed, my perception of the world shrunk down to the patterns everybody else was using. I functioned, like all the others. I threw all my supplies into a box and put on the lid. Not letting anything out ever again. But it hurt. So badly. I tried to forget about it, filled my time with ‘useful’ things. But the shards and chunks of my broken creativity melted together, took shape and got ressurected, a creature setting up camp in my heart and mind.

And it influenced every aspect of my life, not only things that had to do with making art. Every. Thing. A wonderful artist who speaks to my heart, Danny Gregory, calls this creature The Monkey. The Monkey that lives in me tries everything to keep me from doing what I love. Everytime I make a drawing, pick up a paintbrush, or even write a post on this blog, the monkey starts yelling at me, rattling and ranting, kicking my self esteem, throwing ideas in the bin before they’ve even been told to myself.

Here are some of the standard statements my monkey makes when I want to try something new, anythinng new, but it is especially vicious and loud when I am trying to make art:

“How old are you? Grow up!”

“This is a waste of money. It would be safer not to spend a little fortune on this!”

“People will think you are silly/stupid/out of your mind.”

“This is not new or original. Why bother?”

“You will never be as good as (person x), so don’t even try.”

“People will laugh at your funny little efforts.”

“This is a waste of time. You should rather do ironing/the dishes/hoover/your taxes.”

“Aren’t you glad you have a real job now? Your parents were right. You could never have made a living doing crap like that.”

With the help of a whole lot of supporting people that I’ve met during my student and working years though, I was able to start taming my monkey. I am doing a bit of monkey-killing almost every day of my life. And the evolution of my monkey taught me a lesson that is very important for my current job and probably for life itself:

I would never purposely shatter anybodys dreams just to have my way. On some days I might talk loads of rubbish. But if you ever meet a woman who never ever says the words not good enough in any context or combination, that woman might be me. Just say “monkeychunks” and when she smiles and replies with “peanutbutter”, you know for sure.