I Want That. Can I Have it?
This is a lesson I’ve been trying to learn for a while now, and it’s been a tricky one to fully embody, but I’m getting closer. My dear friend Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, aka KAS has been a big inspiration in this realm. She so beautifully exemplifies how to ask for exactly what she wants without entitlement, ego, or expectation. Just openness, hope, and curiosity. If it’s a no, that’s totally fine and she’ll figure out what’s next. But she goes for it without fear or shame and I’m so grateful to have her as an example in my life.
As a kid, it somehow got in my head that I could never have my first choice of anything, and that I had to compromise and accept my second or third choice. This is not a bad lesson to learn in certain situations. Children who get exactly what they want whenever they want it run the risk of becoming spoiled, ungrateful, and unresilient. But somehow I believed that I’ll never get my first choice of anything, so I should instead set my sights on something more mediocre and just acceptable from the get-go. This led me to a lot of preemptive heartbreak and disappointment because I never even ran the risk of going for what I really wanted. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
This assuming I can never have what I really want showed up in many areas of my life. Romantically, I just so happened to mostly be interested in unavailable people: guys with girlfriends and straight girls, or at least girls that had never been with another girl before and I was terrified to shoot my shot and be met with gay panic, disgust, and losing my friend who I also had a crush on. I felt I was cursed to only fall for unavailable people.
At 17, I fell deeply in love with a beautiful person named Peter. My first real romantic interest who reciprocated my feelings and was available. It was a deeply healing and beautiful relationship. I feel like it partially broke the curse. Since then I’ve fallen for other unavailable people, but at least now I know it’s possible to be met with reciprocity in love. In recent years, I’ve become much more bold with my romantic and sexual pursuits and it’s been incredibly healing and liberating. I used to be terrified of rejection, and of being in situations where I end up rejecting and hurting others. I would get so uncomfortable when I perceived someone wanted something for me I couldn't give, and recoil in fear and discomfort. And I never wanted to make anyone feel that way, so I hid my crushes unless I was 100% sure they were reciprocated. I think part of what helped was learning how to take unreciprocated advances by others as a genuine compliment and respond with a genuine “Thank you, but no, but really: Thank You.” Extending that directness and compassion to others helped me be less afraid of making people uncomfortable, and more comfortable receiving “No, thank yous.” Now, when I want to date or make out with someone, I ask them directly, shortly after it occurs to me, and I invite the answer “No, thank you” if that’s what it is. I welcome “No” as an answer because I can be released from an unrequited situation and move on quickly without too much pain or discomfort. It’s been working pretty well for me :)
This limiting belief has shown up significantly in my art practice and career as well. I make good work. It gets very good critical reception, but I have trouble making money off it. I’m not a naturally business-minded person, and I think that is part of it. And I have an unusual art practice that defies categorization and it isn’t obvious how to monetize it. But it has also felt like another curse that I can’t have what I really, truly, deeply want: a successful career as an artist and a writer. That I have to find my second or third choice, and make that my career. In college, I majored in fashion design instead of fine art. I’m interested in fashion design, I’m good at it, but it’s not what I actually want to be doing with my life. I really want to be doing my art practice full time. But I just assumed that it wouldn’t be possible for me, so I majored in fashion design, thinking that’d be a safer choice, and took a ton of art classes and focused on my art practice at the same time. I approached fashion design from the perspective and methods of an artist. It wasn't a bad decision persay, I’ve carved out a unique niche for myself with the path I’ve taken. And it’s led to all sorts of incredible collaborations with artists and filmmakers, and the wacky day job I have as Kim Kardashian’s tailor. But again, being a tailor isn’t what I was put on this earth for, no matter how successful I get at it, and no matter how sweet of a gig it is. I want to be doing my art practice full time, and I still have that limiting belief lodged in there that I’ll fail as an artist BECAUSE it’s what I want most.
I’m still in the process of learning this lesson with my art practice and career, I still have more work to do. But I’m starting to believe that I can succeed with my heart’s work, and take more risks with it.
This belief has also hindered me socially while I was growing up. I was always a weirdo and didn’t fit in when I was a child. I constantly heard “You’re SO weird” and had a hard time finding people that I could relate to and felt lovingly seen and met by. I thought I was cursed to be a lonely misfit. I had a smattering of close friends, and other friends I hung out with, I wasn’t a total loner, but I didn’t feel a true sense of belonging, and I toned down my full, exuberant, silly, strange personality to fit in better.
When I was 27 and in art school, this all changed for me. I didn’t meet my people at art school, but I met them when I came into myself as an artist and found purpose and drive through that. I met other artists who I deeply related to and admired, and they related to and admired me back! It was profoundly healing and it completely obliterated my deep loneliness and social anxiety. KAS was one of those friends. I’m so grateful to be able to have such deep, familial friendships with people I am so in love with, and who love me back. I feel like I truly belong and it’s the greatest feeling. It buoys me through struggles in all areas of my life, and fills my life with so much joy, laughter, adventure, and profound connection. Because of this deep sense of belonging, I can feel comfortable and at home wherever I am and whoever I’m around.
Having a friend like KAS helps me to see that I’m not actually cursed. What I took for curses were just limiting beliefs holding me back from embodying my full potential and fulfillment. Just by witnessing her in close proximity gives me hope and strength to go for what I really want. I feel like this approach is different from common manifesting practices. Instead of saying “I want that. It will be mine and I won’t accept anything less.” it’s more of a “I want that. I’ll fully go for it, but if I can’t have it, that’s fine because I’m staying open to receiving an even better destination as I walk the path towards my heart’s desire.” There’s less attachment to a specific outcome and less rigidity around it. Just trusting that we’re meant to follow our truest desires, but not necessarily get all of them. But by following them, we’re probably gonna get something even better.
So here it is: I want deep reciprocal love and to make out with people I’m attracted to. Can I have it? I want to succeed (on my own terms) as an artist and writer, doing the work that’s the most true to me. Can I have it? I want a deep, loving, community of artists as my family. Can I have it?