Monday, December 02, 2013

How Childish Art Saved my Relationship

Here's a window into my soul: I am the type of person who will not do something if I can't be the best in it. Some people actually exist who chooses to learn and be good at something even if they repeatedly fail at it. I am not one of them.

Which basically explains my whole life. Which is why I know I am actually an underachiever, even if a few people may think otherwise. Gosh, even my parents believed it, i think.

Case in point: If I took up a Math-based course in college, I will be lucky to generate a pass. But taking another course which has less structure in it can make me a magna cum laude.

Maybe I shouldn't be belittling my past achievements, because let it not be mistaken that I didn't work for them. It's just that, I didn't work that hard for them. My sister always had an impression I never studied in college, which is of course a fallacy. But it's saying something that I can afford to read all the books I wanted and still get the grades.

This kind of skewed thinking has led me to a lot of shaky places, which I only survived by the skin of my teeth and some charm. But that changed when I entered into a serious relationship which I had no idea if I would be good at.

At the initial stages of our relationship, I had my own trepidations. Finally, here was something I cannot foresee -- a happy ending. And because of all the uncertainty, I began controlling everything. I had a long list of musts and must nots. If I was geek enough, I would've even done a whole logical framework for how our relationship must work. Because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't fail.
Because I wanted to prove I am so much smarter than those silly women who fall in love and not make plans and counterplans. So, six months into the relationship, I have almost killed something beautiful before it could even start.

The guy clearly felt suffocated, but probably liked me well enough to work it out (thank God). It wasn't the best 6 months of our relationship, but what we were able to discuss helped create stable ground for our relationship. At one point, I realized, I have to let go. And it was at this point, when I was so confused, I decided to take up the brush again.

I wasn't good at Art. I've never waxed poetic about Manet, or Rembrandt, or Monet, but I liked copying their work. My Mom taught Arts and the Humanities, and I used to browse through her glossy textbooks with beautiful illustrations. But it was never anything more than cursory. They were just pretty. It wasn't like it inspired me to create some grand masterpiece myself. Actually, it even did the opposite. I felt that Art were for masters. I am never going to be able to make anything near Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, so why bother?

But I did dabble, and some of them my Dad has framed and displayed around the house. So at 14, i was actually already doing Art, but I didn't care to call it a talent because I thought I couldn't be as good in painting as I already am in writing. I wanted to be safe, so I chose writing.

But at that confused point in time when I was 28 years old, I needed an outlet which could express how I felt and I suddenly felt that words were tiresome and ill-fit to express what I want. It was just an afterthought, picking up my pencil, then my brush, and my decade-old paints. Some of them were even dried up due to unuse. I decided I will make something. It doesn't have to be beautiful because my emotions didn't feel beautiful at the moment. So I drew. A cartoon.

A ghastly one. I told myself i sucked at it.  Just like how I suck as a girlfriend. But I wouldn't give up my guy, even if my life depended on it. So maybe.... just maybe, I thought to myself, I should draw another cartoon. And another, and another.

It's been three years, and I am still drawing. I am not bad at it anymore, but I do not excel either. But what I learned was that at some point, you have to try to do what you're not good at, if only because doing it makes you happy. If you keep working at it, maybe at the end of your life, you could see you made some pretty great art. Just like being in a relationship, which could fail, yes, but if you keep working at it, could lead to a pretty great love.

So just keep drawing.


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