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Self Portrait day! This is a portrait of me without makeup on a regular day at work - with my typical smile :) I'd rather portray my honest, every day, wake-up-give-me-coffee self than someone who appears to be well rested and maintained. I care for myself but concentrate on my work more than satisfying my intense vanity and I wanted to show that here. Though, to a point I believe I have nearly understood my true self for this age, I wonder if my concepts of true self are recognition of repetitive behaviors I have noticed in my life and applying these behaviors to hypothetical alternatives or is it a combination of my past and my personality combined to goals? When all external forces are stripped away, what composes my true self?
"I wonder if my concepts of true self are recognition of repetitive behaviors and applying these behaviors to hypothetical alternatives?"
The true self was an idea originally created by Maslow’s theory of self-actualization which was further developed by Karen Horney who divided growth into healthy and neurotic categories. Healthy growth is when the individual has developed to his/her fullest potential, and is true to her/himself - knowing who one is and what one appreciates. In contrast, the individual falling into the false self has limited personal growth which is stagnated by unrealistic ideas and feelings. These delusions, lies, or any form of idealization leave the person disconnected from their true selves. Additionally, the presentation of the false self sucks energy from personal development into the true self. Essentially, the individual spends so much time “keeping up the image” of the false self to even begin to develop a true self.
Although the American society’s conception of true and false self is based largely on Christian morality, describing the “false” self as lies, lustfulness, envy, et cetera, this is untrue. A large part of becoming your true self is recognizing that those feelings are a part of you. Essentially accepting the light and dark inside of you but understanding there must be a balance of emotion. For instance, consistent lies, envy, or jealousy aren’t healthy emotions. They breed negativity to an extent, but as long as you recognize them and do not dwell on those thoughts or feelings then it is good overall perception and close to your true self. The true self is creating a connection with you; your passions, dislikes, sources of happiness, and ideas of social justice for yourself and others while understanding the darker side of those qualities and knowing when they occur - a sense of self-reflection.
“only when [a person] fully experiences the feeling which at an organic level he is...that he is being a part of his real self.” - Carl Rogers
To further break down my concept of my true self, my character, I made a web and began eliminating the external forces which pushed me one way or another. Although it is slightly complicated, allowing the default system and conscious self to wander hand-in-hand through memories gives a better idea of who you are as a sole individual.
Mini Sample Web - missing a large portions of my life
Apart from the acrylic childhood paintings in my Granny's kitchen, I never received training for any art - whether from sketches to oil paints. I only drew what I knew and practiced. It stopped around the time my family, and I moved to Florida, around the time I moved from my Granny, the best woman I have ever known. Any drawings or doodles I kept to myself. I was not very forthcoming, to begin with as a child, and even less so since no one asked. Being raised by a mentally ill mother and absent father did not encourage creativity, much less self-esteem, especially when I did everything "wrong." It did encourage a healthy sense of depression, self-mutilation, anxiety and tiptoeing around the latest debacle. When slamming of cabinet doors started, I wanted to become invisible. Adrenalin rushed, and I transformed into a silent, ghost-maid; cleaning the house quietly and playing the "good child." If my faults were pointed out, I would gather my belongings and lay them on her dresser as penance for my "misdeeds." I didn't realize how much I was damaged until I left for college which was shortly followed by my first relationship.By my first semester of college, I had full-blown seasonal depression- like a yearly allergy to the dark, cold streets of Brooklyn. Upon my second semester, I entered an abusive relationship - I didn't know it at the time, and I thought that because it was the same love I received at home, it was the same love I deserved in college. I dated "normal" guys but somehow felt nothing (if you read some of my previous research on dopamine's role in neonatal pups during traumatic experiences with a maternal presence it will explain why). I was permanently transferring codependence from my mother to a significant other - who happened to have the same controlling, jealous, angry aspects. By April 2015, the semester I was due to graduate, I was admitted to NYU Tisch Psychiatric Ward for a suicide attempt. That past year I drank heavily, missed the majority of my classes because I could not leave my apartment, was heavily medicated on Zoloft and Klonopin, and felt I was failing my life entirely. I needed someone to accept me wholly and show they cared; however, and as corny as it sounds, I needed to accept myself. This process took the better of two years and is still in progress. Learning to make my own mistakes and the good with the bad with most people was a large part of it. I received a lot of support from a close family (not mine, of course) I met that year. I also consistently worked on Dialectical Behavior Therapy and art therapy for the emotions I could not manage. Art enabled me to transport myself away from the labyrinth in my head. Most of my work circles around human anatomy, expressing depression, panic attacks, anger, and other emotions. The collection of these works developed into Fallrisk Art - named after the wristbands given to patients upon entering the hospital. Fallrisk is an interactive art show dedicated to increasing mental illness awareness, reducing the stigma attached to mental illness and increasing funding towards research. If all goes well, and I'm not too busy with work, school, and applying for my Master's, Fallrisk Art show should take place in August 2019 with funding on Indiegogo starting January 2019. Although Fallrisk Art show is a primary goal of mine, it is not the end goal. I plan to continue a Fallrisk Art exhibition every year to promote the three primary goals stated above. Additionally, I want to incorporate my extracurricular paintings into my graduate portfolio. Please feel free to contact me for further questions and comments!