Sigh...on the wings of my last post about the academic approach to art and dialogue and about having past student peers judging my work, comes tonight's awkward interaction at Home Depot. I was there to buy a masonry bit and screws to put up my last piece (YAY!!) for the opening tomorrow night. It went something like this:
cool ex-student (who, btw, was one of the hip students at the Univ. though, he is a good artist, I have to say.which makes it worse.:).): Oh, hi...what are you getting?
me:hi, I have to mount my last piece onto a concrete wall and need some special screws...you?
cool ex-student: yeah, I'm doing some framing. Why are you hanging pieces?
I'm going to interrupt this story for a moment to say that on the Facebook "event" I created for the show, he was one of the people who responded as yes, they are coming. Okay, back to the conversation.
me: it's my last piece for my show.
c es: what show?
me: (I just sort of look at him puzzled for a second)
c es: oh. yeah. I think I remember receiving something about that.(trails off...)
me: right. so this is my last piece and I am glad to be almost done...
c es: so, um, I think I am going to be out of town tomorrow. so, um. um. I don't think I'll make it. um, have fun and good luck....(trails off again and kind of looks at the ground)
me: that's okay. you have fun on your trip. bye.
Maybe he really is leaving town? I don't think so. Suddenly I am in the 7th grade again and someone is passing a note in front of me that is about me and how dorky I am. Now, this is my blog, and I guess I should be really confident and promote my work and talk about how great it all is... but, well, this is my blog and you get to see the real and very sensitive me. I have never been the kid who was popular and didn't understand how to be a "cool outcast" until high school. But even being a cool outcast took more effort and work than I could manage for long. Before that, I was the painfully shy girl who always managed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time when she did finally get the guts to speak.
so, suddenly I am a rejected 7th grader again, standing in Home Depot, wondering what I did wrong. Then I get irritated-I'll show you! You'll see, I'm going to make it and you are going to feel like an idiot!.... whatever. This response is just as childish, because, of course, this is real life. In real life, I could just as easily toil in my reclusive space for the rest of my life in relative unknown, while he stays cool and becomes famous. Actually, that is how things generally turn out in real life. Cool= people like and want you. Reclusive, socially awkward= people stay away, unless they somehow find this a sweet, quirky trait. (thank you to my wonderful friends!)
What to do? I realize I am going to be over-sensitive for the rest of my life, most likely. I am so envious of those who just don't care and are able to take people or leave them... not me. No, I ruminate about every conversation weeks after they have happened, analyzing from every possible angle. I just can't seem to let it go.
I realize that as someone who is trying to make her living by being vulnerable and at the same time is greatly pained by vulnerability that this is my fatal flaw. My greatest weakness. I really don't know how to get over it and wonder if I ever will. It's not about this particular person or this show. This interaction represents so much more about a desire for acceptance and an unwillingness to do what it takes to be accepted at the same time.
I am glad, in hindsight that this person will not be there tomorrow night. This person represents the condescension and pretension that I can't stand when it comes to being critical of another. Instead, I will have some strangers, and some wonderful friends and fellow artists that are amazingly supportive of simply the fact that I pursue what I love and so do they. And understand that everything is a journey and a work in progress. After writing this, I am now looking forward to tomorrow night once again.