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I’ve always been an artist since I was a kid but I think what really led me to be on the path that I’m on now, with my art, was trying to make it as an artist for a long time, since college in New York, and the ups and downs, and the feelings of not being good enough. The fear about that all built up in 2016 when I was going through a hard breakup and not knowing where my career was going. That was also when Instagram was becoming more of a thing, and people were becoming popular on Instagram for their art. So I was like, “That’s going to be great. I’ll do that.”

But it wasn’t going well. I was always judging myself based on, “What am I going to post?” That all culminated to this moment where I was just really depressed about who I was and not liking myself, and not feeling like I had any kind of direction. Things were really, really dark. I remember I was sitting at the edge of my bed and I was feeling like I didn’t want to live, and I just instinctually closed my eyes and I had this vision of another version of myself coming and putting their arm around me and holding me, and saying, “You’re okay. You’re enough just how you are. You don’t have to do this anymore.” It was such a relief.

I had been searching for so long for validation, from partners, and the music industry, or my parents, or Instagram or whatever. In that moment it became very clear that what I had been searching for was really just me letting myself be okay with myself. I really just needed my own approval. I clearly saw that I was creating this narrative, and that I was capable of changing that narrative. And from that moment on, it sparked this realization that I was using my art as a weapon to hurt myself. I was using it, rather than letting it give the love that it was practicing. I realized that it wasn’t just about me. It was a spiritual awakening, but it was also the realization that being creative or being an artist isn’t really just about your own ego’s pursuits. It’s such a bigger story than just what your goals are––it’s being in collaboration with the divine creative energy of the universe. Through my own spiritual practice and budding with that moment, I was continuing to realize that I was able to take the ownership out of it because I felt that it was healing for me. It also helped other people realize that whatever their perspective was, that that’s really what being an artist is, and that there’s no such thing as good or bad art. It’s really just self-expression.

The reason why the so-called Masters or geniuses of art has been so institutionalized in ownership of white cis men is because those were the self expressions that were deemed important in culture. And so, the process of creating is really just this way to remind yourself, to connect your higher self to say, “What I want to express right now in this moment is just about this moment in time, and it’s just as valid as any other person’s expression.” It helped me realize that it was about a much bigger story than if my album was going to be popular or an Instagram post was going to get a lot of likes. Having that realization, ironically paved the way for the things that I actually did want to do. Even now, I still have to constantly check myself because if I allow myself to buy into that hierarchical thinking, even when something’s good, it’s like I’m setting myself up for that same kind of pain and that same kind of struggle buying into that belief system. So I’m in the process of trying to constantly dismantle or bring awareness to those hierarchical beliefs that we all carry around with us all of the time so I can actually enjoy my life and have a good time. Making art, actually enjoying it, and finding some happiness.