Staying Afloat

July 5 | 11:10AM | Tram 12 to Pasedagplatz

Let me tell you a story.

I tried to learn to swim when I was four. But the coach threw me into the water and ever since, I’ve never considered the water a friend. I never swam in beaches, always kept myself cozy with a book and my journal while everyone else enjoys the water. I tried learning to swim again when I was sixteen, but to my surprise, once I started swimming underwater, a pang of anxiety hit me and I didn’t like the loneliness and helplessness it gave me.

At some point I still wish I was a good swimmer. I also wished I was good at running (which I’m working on now), and good at biking (I also fell downhill while riding a bike, so you get the gist).

But I never really knew how pivotal these experiences were to my life right now.

I went to the lake last Sunday. I finally got myself to buy a swimsuit last week (after 5 years—I was skinny back then). Once I got into the water, my face changed. I looked at where I was, what the people were doing. They enjoyed it! Why didn’t I? Did I turn away too much from this because I’ve been so anxious of things that no one gives a shit about? 

One of my directors from the institute pointed out this story when we were having an intense talk about what I wanted to do next with my career. Swimming felt apt; I’ve always stuck with the notion that as long as my feet can touch the surface, I’ll be fine and I’ll survive. I’ve never considered going past it because I know I’ll drown and eventually die.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not scared of dying. But it’s a possibility and at this point, I don’t think I’m ready for it.

So anyway, back to swimming. I’ve stayed comfortably in the box I’ve put myself in—no, made my way in—as I grew my career from a tiny seed to a thriving plant (wow, earth sign references right there). But like most plants, I have grown this way because I have stayed in an environment that I am adaptable in, that makes me grow. Fine, that seems good. But growth doesn’t seem to be enough if you want to get out and just do more than grow.

And that’s how I’m feeling now.

For years I’ve been trapped with so many insecurities. Sure, I’ve concentrated on work since I got into this career. I’ve considered a few people to comprise my very tiny (but amazing) social circle. I’m 26 but my mind functions like a 40 year old. I don’t like clubbing or being “cool” or drinking until I can’t walk. I am quite an introvert (like most artists). I dress pretty “clean” in the sense of cliches that artists have to have different colored hair, tattoos, piercings or whatnot. Generally when I make art, I don’t need to feel depressed or in total anger because I’m on autopilot mode and just focusing on the work. I am just not that person because I grew up in a place that did not entertain these things. But also maybe because I personally chose not to as well.

When I came here to Berlin, I thought I had wanted to change that. I tried. But now I realize that I don’t. I hold a lot of respect to my own values as a person, but sometimes other people’s decisions influence my way of thinking. I know I lack the confidence to trust myself, and maybe that’s really what’s bugging me at this point in time.

Something I worked on this week. Not my first color choice, a big canvas, and actually integrating Chinese characters? What on earth?

So far, this week: I moved apartments, started working on a huge painting that seems like just a bunch of patterns but actually depicts a multitude of my thoughts at this particular moment, experienced unnecessary feelings but a person has to feel so shit happens, had a 360 degree turn that led to this current crisis that I’m trying to solve.

I’ve been so afraid of being in a crisis mostly because I’ve had my worst share of it in New York. But this time I seem to be much better. I am coming to terms with it and maybe that’s just I should go about it, you know? See the changes unfold bit by bit and work my way from there.

No one told me to tread directly into deep waters. So my decision for now is to stay afloat for a bit, see where life takes me.

Also, highkey considering taking swimming lessons when I head home this August. We’ll see.

My stop’s here. Tschuss!

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