Brightly colored roosters, a large pool table set-up, Cadillac cars and giant sunflowers filled the screen one by one. I smiled as I felt pride in what I had created. My pieces were large, loose interpretations of objects with overly bright colors. It was exactly as I saw them in my mind.
I stood next to Lois, waiting anxiously for her long-awaited approval. For months I had longed for her to ask to see my art, or offer me a space to sell it within her shop, but this was the first time she'd ever approached the subject.
After a few moments of silent swiping, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yeah, you haven't found your style yet” and she turned around to continue cleaning the coffee pots.
I'll never forget that moment. I was hoping Lois would let me hang some of my paintings in her shop to sell, but instead she had tried to invalidate me as an artist. Luckily, I felt strongly in disagreeing with her. I thought certainly I had found my style and it suited me just fine.
I didn't like realistic looking art. I didn't like the painstaking detailed work that came with perfectionism. I truly enjoyed creating art for the fun of it, and for me, the fun was throwing paint against a canvas and splattering bright colors on top of other bright colors. It may not be a defined style, but it was distinct in that it was mine.
Several years later I took an oil painting class with a very well-respected artist. She taught us a few color mixing tricks to make our paintings seem more realistic. By the third day of the class I had three very nice-looking paintings that I hated. They were proportionally correct, realistically colored and visually acceptable. That wasn't my style. That was when I realized I had, in fact, found my style and I was very comfortable in it. In fact, I had been quite successful in selling this style, (so long as I was selling outside of cowboy country.)
Every single day I encounter people or industries who try to shape the way I look, act or create. It's constantly a struggle to keep from falling back into this black hole of conformity. For many people conformity suits them well. There are always the conforming majority that does really well just falling into place. It was Jesus, I believe, who said men are like sheep! We very easily follow whatever is set before us. Maybe it is coincidence that so many people like the same style of things, or maybe they literally don't have any qualms about falling into line, but for me, I wasn't made like that. I've never been one to passively join in fashion trends or social norms. In fact, the most miserable times of my life have been when I was trying desperately to be a part of something else.
In art, in college, in career, it is so easy to shrug your shoulders and do what is expected of you. Our parents have expectations, our friends have expectations, boyfriends and school counselors have expectations, but when, in all of this, do you get to set the goals and expectations for yourself? After all, it is your life is it not?
For many of us, our individuality is the key to our success, and as creatives, we know we must harness confidence and courage in this individuality in order to thrive in our personal and professional lives.
Despite the message on the megaphone, it is okay to dance to the beat of your own drum. It's okay to wear something crazy. People often times enjoy something off-beat if only for a refreshing outlook.
It is way too easy to get caught up in the pits of perfectionism and group-think. Life is much more exciting when we stand on our own and think on our feet. Intuition is one of the greatest and unfortunately, most under-used gifts of humanity. It takes time and practice to learn to trust your gut in daily decisions, but great minds learn to master this technique early on.
So, what is it that your gut is telling you? What's that raw style that only you can reflect into the world? Is there something in your belly telling you to stand up, walk out and go your own way? Can you put your finger on it? Write it out on paper tonight in your journal as you prepare for sleep. Let it out on paper, so that it might be given a chance to live out its own life in as small a way as possible. This will be your beginning.
To get you started, here are my top 5 reasons you should ROCK YOUR OWN STYLE, be it in fashion, art, identity or any other way you can think of!
1. Ain't nobody do it like you
This is so simple yet so incredibly complicated. It sounds so easy to just "be yourself" and "forget the haters" but when it comes down to it and we're really honest with ourselves, we generally hide from that true person and put up a front to ensure our safety. While this is safe and comfortable, it isn't adding anything to the world.
In a world FULL of conformists, we need your unique and awesome style that you and ONLY YOU can bring to the planet. Great ideas are rarely born out of conformity. If you want to change the world and rock it like no one before you has done, you absolutely must appreciate your individuality and stick it out there for yourself! Sure, everyone will comment, but that's not your focus. (Think Janis Joplin's untamed hair. You and I both know within 5 seconds of seeing her silhouette that that can only be one person's iconic do. She rocked it.)
2. Your creativity heals yourself and others.
This is one of my favorite affirmations. I've said it for years and I have to continuously say it to myself, but the older I get the more true I realize it is!! When you're constantly being rushed from one thing to another, creativity can easily seem like a frivolous luxury rather than a soulful necessity. However, it is absolutely pertinent that you come to take your creativity as a serious healing method both for yourself and for others who are going through similar things.
You've heard me say it before, but there are no rules in art -- whether it be music, painting, knitting, etc. -- we don't create primarily for other people. We create so we can express ourselves in honest and vulnerable ways that words don't cover. Your creative healing style is not only unique to you, but an essential remedy for your soul.
3. Most people aren't even brave enough to rock their own style.
You know how scary it is to be yourself! So does everyone else. That's why it is safe to assume that most of the people judging your work, commenting on your new "tude" and dismissing you for your crazy ideas are simply blocked creatives themselves. They are just as scared as you and I, although they may still be blocked. This blockage on their part can lead to criticism in others. It is very common for creatives to resent one another simply out of jealousy. Now, is this what I want to promote? Not by any means. In fact, one of my biggest goals is to help teach creatives to love one another through cooperation and sharing. I'm simply saying that we shouldn't take criticism to heart. More than likely the insult came from a place of bitterness in that person's own personal life. We should do our best to love them into healing AND..(remember reason #2) it is our own creativity than can eventually result in healing for them as well.
I know this is a little cliche, but in my post "Number 1 Regret of the Dying" I talk about the importance of living for yourself in each moment life presents you with. It's way too easy to say "next year" or "one day" but what happens when you wake up on your death bed and you're out of "next years" and "one days". Then it is too late.
When it comes to living life we have to unwrap each day like it is the biggest and bestest present we've ever received. We need to wake up, rip the wrapping paper off and jump head-first into that giant box full of goodness. That isn't to say that every day will be peachy-keen, it just means every single opportunity, moment and conversation is a gift to be cherished. If you live life with that kind of attitude, I believe that nothing else will matter. You only live once, so rock your style!!
5. It encourages others.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen other people TOTALLY ROCKING their own thing and boy did it get me all jazzed up! Like, what is more attractive than someone being themselves? I mean, you could go down the path of rebels and tattoos and punk-rockers, but that's a different topic. I'm talking about people who are so incredibly comfortable with themselves that they do whatever they feel like and they don't think twice about it!
90% of the time these people don't even realize that they are the way they are! They never realize how inspiring they are to me or to others-- you know why? -- because they are too busy rocking their own style, doing their grind and making life the best they can.
When you commit 100% to being who you are, I GUARANTEE you will encourage someone else! What better way to leave your personally beautiful mark on the world?
So there's your 5 reasons on why YOU should ROCK YOUR OWN STYLE! If everyone overthought what everyone else was thinking we wouldn't have some of the greatest minds of our times. We have to encourage one another to stay true to who we are and what gifts and talents we've been given.
Each of us find passion in a number of different ways and that is what makes the world a beautiful box full of crayons. Who wants to look a box of crayons full of all brown crayons? The world needs your unique style. I dare you to rock it today!
Share your art, wear something original or be the unique person that you are. Hit me up with an email telling how you did this and you could be featured here on the blog! If you'd rather use social media, use #rockingmystyle and tag @thesparklinghippie (instagram, facebook) or @sparkhippie for Twitter. Good luck!!