Thursday, 15 November 2012

on being too much

I've heard two people recently talking about people in their life suggesting that they were/are 'too much'. I love these people. They're vibrant and warm and funny and hugely creative; sensitive, powerful and inspirational. I don't think of myself as any of these things, but I suddenly heard a huge clang. It was one of those moments where you don't even realise that you've been doing or thinking something until you hear someone else express it, and then you realise simultaneously that a), there's this thing, and you've been doing it, and b), that your unconscious assumed that you were dealing with it entirely alone, but it seems you're not.

I've felt that I've been deemed to be 'too much' all my life; sometimes consciously, sometimes semi-consciously. I read the feedback from people, their reactions to me, from very early on, and it kept being the same - you don't know when to stop, you're too intense, you talk too much, you're overpowering, you're inappropriate, your life is extreme, you're not behaving properly.

After a while my extreme life got me into a heap of trouble, and when that was over I started trying to play the game as I was supposed to. There were lots of things that felt good about that; about being accepted, finally, into the game. But I spent the whole time self-monitoring, watching out for where I was about to go over the edge; be too passionate for the restrained academic context, say the wrong thing at the wrong time,  be too self-revelatory for my role. That wasn't the fault of academia. It's just what it felt like trying to fit myself into it. As I attempted to beat myself into submission, I gradually forgot all about the wildness, and  about the colour of my previous life. I didn't forget that I was 'too much' though, and kept trying to rein myself in.

So what has this to do with creativity, and blocks to creativity? Well, if you're constantly self-monitoring because you believe yourself to be too loud, the wrong shape, or in some other way inappropriate for your context, you're constantly checking yourself, and attempting to hold yourself back. You're trying not to make mistakes. You live in constant fear of sounding idiotic, of getting that reaction that tells you you've done it again. Your whole orientation becomes the fear of being wrong, and you shrink.

How can you hope to explore the extent and nature of your voice if the minute it comes out you're unconsciously watching and waiting and judging and fearing? How can you explore your limits and experiment with pushing over them if you're limiting yourself at every turn? It is about coming out of hiding, but this hidden sense of being 'too much'  feels like a much bigger revelation, or perhaps explains something I haven't seen before about the nature of that hiding.

This painting here, is, I have to tell you, FAR too much. Yippee dee day doo dah.


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