Imagine being flooded with negative emotions: unable to process them, not knowing or willing to accept where they are coming from, not understanding why simple tasks get connected to feelings of terror. Not knowing the reason for one’s depression becomes the biggest elephant in the room; it is the question everyone wants to be answered.
I could not see an answer or I did not want it to be an easy equation. From my perspective there is a lot to me, there is no simple answer. Ultimately however it is simple.
Confidence issues are the source of my depression.
The first time I can clearly say I had a mental struggle between what I wanted to do and an emotional response was Oslo 2001. I wanted to join a live role-playing group, but when I saw them I was not able to approach, it was an anxiety attack stemming from a lack of confidence. This was the catalyst, but many events leading up to this had been feeding into it. Bullying, being an outcast, dyslexia, not being a part of any group activities that help bolster a young boy’s confidence, my quiet and non-assertive demeanor and many other little drops in the water. Up until this event I believed I had a strong will and mind, that I had struggled through my challenges and become stronger, but this was and is not true. I’m highly sensitive and easily have negative reactions that I let affect my confidence. When my confidence is challenged, I retreat and become disconnected from the world, as I do not want it to be seen that I’m lacking in confidence. One negative aspect is that I do not create art in these periods, however, it still fuels my creation. What truly is the killer is that I’m not able to do research, write applications and put myself out there when I’m caught by the tendrils of apathy.
Where I am strong is in the willingness to continuously put myself back into situations that have the potential to knock me down again. I’m like that man who never lies down; I always get up again from the punch, a stubborn boy who does not know how to fight, but worse still does not get any smarter after each punch, which makes me rather stupid. To top it off, I picked the career of an Artist, a bad idea for someone with my problem. Studying art was an excellent time of growth, as it was in a framework that supported and celebrated good work. The flip-side is, outside of the university framework, making good work is only 10% of what is needed; it is about making good connections, being forward, writing application after application, demonstrating oneself to be trustworthy, selling oneself and stimulating egos. Nothing wrong with most of that, however they are all actions that hammer at my confidence. I do not have tough skin, I feel a lot, which makes me an extraordinary artist but a bad salesman and ultimately a bad artist. Oh how I love paradoxes and oxymorons: I’m both good and bad at what I do.
If life is like snakes and ladders, then one could say that there have been times I’ve played well, landing on some amazing ladders and going up and away, but my confidence issues have landed me on a lot more snakes. For the last year I have fallen down the biggest snake, walked up one amazing ladder, which was Venø Gård KUNST, just to immediately fall down a big snake once more. I would say I’m currently right back at the beginning of the game, reflecting on my past work, uncertain of how to actually play the game, clueless of how to reach the ladders, wondering if I can walk the path, knowing that with the person I am, I will be landing on many snakes, telling myself platitudes in an attempt to push myself forward. Ultimately I can but do one thing: struggle.
To accept Sisyphus’ tale of pushing a boulder up a mountain (which rolls back to the base every time he reaches the top,) as a positive reflection of life, we must imagine that it is the struggle that is his source of happiness, and not reaching the top. I, on the other hand, am not enjoying the struggle. How can one enjoy pushing one’s confidence up the mountain only to see it roll down again, knowing from past experiences that this will happen time and time again? I continue not for the vague chance I might actually reach the top or because I enjoy the struggle. I continue because I believe my definition of art—to explore the unknown and encourage others to explore—to be immensely important for humanity.
Amidst self-doubt and depression I have that one belief which is rock solid: I have something to say, so Hear Me.