The Shame of Being an Artist

I hate meeting new people. Introductions are awkward. My name is Blanca, not Bianca, Monica or Veronica. Blanca. I don’t give a damn about the weather and I don’t want to tell a stranger about my weekend. Nowadays when people ask me what do I do, I don’t know what to say. College gave me the respectable title of “college student”, I miss that.  I can only say “I just graduated college” for so long before it becomes untrue. I never tell people that I’m an artist, because I’m ashamed.

I think there is a stigma that comes from being an artist. I feel as though people in general see me (us) as lazy, unintelligent, pretentious, useless, and crazy. I don’t even feel as though I can call myself an artist because I’m not supporting myself or getting paid for my art. I don’t know what to answer when asked “What do you do?” What am I doing? Just kind of flailing around and trying to figure out who I am.

I have a war going on in my mind all the time. I didn’t know how to articulate it until I read Carl Jung.

Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being, he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is man in a higher sense—he is “collective man”—one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. To perform this difficult office, it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.

The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him—on the one hand the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction, and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire. The lives of artists are as a rule so highly unsatisfactory—not to say tragic—because of their inferiority on the human and personal side, and not because of a sinister dispensation. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire.
— Carl Jung (Modern Man In Search of a Soul)

There is one part of me that always likes to tell me how childish and selfish I am. It tells me how art is stupid, I’m stupid and It’s stupid how deep I’ve gotten into this hole of being an artist. It reminds me all the time how I’m never going to be able to support myself, have meaningful relationships or start a family. It’s brutal. The other part of me has no voice, but it’s the stronger of the two. It’s an instinct to create art. I don’t know if it gives me comfort to know that making art is just an innate part of my being, or if it terrifies me.

I’m never going to be able to work a normal 9-5 job. I tried it for a month in August and I got sick. I really did believe that I was going to be able override my instincts for a while and focus on making money. I really did want to believe that if worst came to worst I would be able to work any old secure job and keep art as a hobby. That’s not the case at all. I was good at my job but I cried all the time, sometimes in front of people. I overate, overslept and dry-heaved in the shower every day. I couldn’t think about or make art for a month and I was not doing well. I had to quit and deal with the new emerging shame of being a quitter but I did learn something about myself. I am an artist wheather I like it or not.

Little Blanca 1997

Little Blanca 1997

Blanca JimenezComment