Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I can anticipate your response, but I really need to vent these feelings.
I am an artist, age 16, and I have already been in shows in three galleries. I really have a sense of direction and a passion for what I am doing. But I am having a hard time
reconciling myself with so-called “reality.” To most people, it seems that reality means being logical and directional about every choice, creating back-up plans and making careful selections of mates according to mutual interests. I can’t relate to them at all so I don’t have many friends. My parents call me moody and withdrawn and sent me to a therapist.
The advice that the therapist gives me just seems irrelevant. I feel like my parents are paying him to program me the way they want me to be; but I’m just never going to be that.
It just won’t work? I wonder if I need a therapist who thinks a bit more out of the box? Or if I don’t need one at all? My current therapist seems to want to convert me into a duty-ridden plan-every-step homeowner. But if I try to live like that, I feel like I am stumbling in shoes that don’t fit. I can’t go to school to get a degree in a field and then look for a job.
I am moving through life in a different direction- the people and experiences I have along the way are part of what creates my own understanding of life, and a big part of why my work means something.
My question is this: what if I am just different?
Why am I being treated as “challenged” just because I’m not staying nicely in my box?
There is no one way to live life; but you have to be fair about it. You can do whatever you want to do with your life so long as you don’t expect anyone else to support you financially while you are doing it. You can’t take and give nothing back.
If you want to be “out of the box” you need to find a way to support that life style. Our society is set up with specific rules and expectations. The lower your educational level the more expendable you are and lower you’re earning potential. These rules may not be “god given,” but they are the way it is. Sure there are ways around it with work experience or creative expertise. But who is paying for your food and shelter at the moment?
You were in three galleries. Great for you but is your work selling like hot cakes and earning $1200.00 a piece? It is easy to be unique and live like a rebel when all your needs are being taken care of. If you want financial support from your parents you need to give something back. Usually that’s good grades, an education, no drugs, and some respect. Otherwise you are just a parasite.
Remember- you may be unique but so is everybody else. It takes hard work and perseverance to be successful in anything. It also takes years and years of plugging away. Most people I have read about were rejected for 10 years or more before they became successful. Anyone who did finally succeed usually had the support of friends and family along the way which means they probably worked with and not against everyone. Life is not all about you. You need to find some balance.
If you truly are a genius and extraordinary in your talents then you will be discovered no matter what. Otherwise you will have to play the game just like everyone else which means having a plan B.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: Actually, you can be the most amazing artist that ever lived and still have zero success during your own lifetime. All we have to do is look at art history to see that. All this talk about one’s earning potential is beside the point. Parental expectation is a separate can of worms, to be opened at another time. Money isn’t the immediate issue here either, nor is talent, nor is having a Plan B. To me, the real issue is that Stewart is setting his life up as a “me against them” game and he has decided how a whole lot of people think, and what they believe, without really knowing any of them.
If a person is going to create art that matters, it needs to communicate something meaningful. If all you are communicating is: “look at me! I’m a great artist!” you aren’t saying much and you sure aren’t producing great art. Meaningful art doesn’t come from closing your mind and deciding that you are different from other people. It comes from opening your eyes and looking at the world around you and seeing something meaningful in it. Right now, Stewart is so full of himself that I don’t think he sees much of anything but his own reflection.
Having work in three shows means nothing. I’d had work in over ten shows by the time I was 18. In the real world, this is small change. When I got to RISD, I met students younger than me who’d been in even more shows and had won awards at them. Interestingly, they were not the students who held themselves apart or had an attitude. They just worked and watched and kept exploring the world with curiosity.
Life is most certainly easier, and more doors will open to you, if you have a degree…or money. But money and plans are not your problem right now, Stewart. You are a human being on planet Earth. There are a lot of us here. Get a little more experience under your belt before you come to any conclusions. Your parents are on your back because they don’t want you to grow up a social outcast. I don’t think a therapist is the answer, and I don’t think you owe them your life, but I think they have a valid point.