The authentic artist.

In my life I've found so much freedom and inspiration from writers and artists who have been able to portray their authentic selves through their craft. People who put it all on the line, every disappointment, every single moment of success, it was all out there for everyone to see.

Those people changed the way that I pursued and consumed media. I no longer sought after a superficial and empty reality but rather I craved authenticity. I had a seemingly unquenchable thirst for a moment in the presence of something that was sincere.

The word authentic is defined by good ole Google as meaning "Of undisputed origin; genuine." Growing up my artistic interests and obsessions could all be easily summed up by that word. They were musicians, dancers and painters that all chose to be themselves in a world that told them that someone else was better.

I was home-schooled for all of my K-12 years and although I wasn't particularly fond of it at the time, I now see that it played a huge part in the type of person that I am today. I didn't grow up in an environment where I was constantly struggling with peer pressure and being bombarded with over-sexualized media and crude language. I grew up being teased only by my siblings and never really having anyone make fun of me for the things I liked.

I was raised in an environment that allowed me to have the space and security I needed to figure out who I was.

Recently, I've struggled with being open and truly authentic on this blog. At times I hold back my thoughts, focus too much on what certain people might think and even worry so much about views that I start to write posts that are just eye catching instead of thoughtful.

I've been thinking a lot about why I started blogging in the first place and that train of thought took me back to my youth and the experiences that guided my life. I did not start this blog with the purpose and intention that lots of people would read it. I started this blog because I wanted it to be a space where I could leave it all on the field.

A place where I could pour out my ideas, my dreams, my ambitions. I wanted and still want this to be a place where readers can come and find a human not a robot trying to fit the mold of the modern day writer.

I'm constantly tempted to adapt and change in order to be more popular. Just last week I was looking through my blog  history and looking at the posts that have gotten the most views. I was trying to find a trend so that I could continue writing about those topics so that I could continue to get that volume of views and shares. I was actively feeding into the practice of writing for numbers.

I realize now that those posts didn't get 100's of views because I was writing with an agenda but rather because I wasn't. People shared them and wrote to me about them because they could see my heart in the words and could hear my voice in it's tone.

I started 'Give the grave only bones' because of my love for authenticity and the way that it has inspired and directed my life. If that spirit is lost or is pushed to the side, this whole thing something that I love and enjoy doing so much, will simply become a chore. A task that becomes exhausting and eventually too much work to continue.

My unique upbringing and the art that I consumed during it has paved the way for me to live a life that is my own. A life that is genuine, sincere, vulnerable and most importantly authentic.

I pray that God continues to give me a heart that is tender to the things of this world that are real. The things that beat to a different drum and shine with colors anew. Things that remind me that to try and be a copy is to reject the gift that comes with originality.

God could have easily made us all the same. He could have given us all the same skin color and personalities and fingerprints, but he didn't. He didn't do that because he sees the value in diversity and the beauty of our differences.

I wasn't created to fit a mold. I was created to thrive and to share my unique perspective with the world. I feel so blessed to be able to share my thoughts and ideas in this space every single week. The people who read this have been so supportive and loving with their kind words and comments and I'm so grateful for that.

I'm the culprit in this current dilemma. I'm the one that put pressure on myself and let the thoughts and lies of conformity take root in my heart. That all stops today. Authenticity can be scary but compared to the other options it's truly the only route, as an artist, that I'm allowing myself to take.

"Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." -Brene Brown.