Thoughts on Change

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

—Leonard0 da Vinci

Yeah yeah Leo, I get it.

I remember a professor quoted this to me once and I like barfed in my mouth. Who quotes Leonardo da Vinci in an intro level art class? Like who are you???

Well now I'm quoting it at you. It's probably one of the cheesiest things I've ever heard related to creativity (there's a lot of that ish out there), but now I know it's sooooooo true! I feel like every one has looked back at a piece of work and thought to themselves 'I wish I would have done that differently' or at least wondered what else it could have turned out like. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? I was always under the impression that those tendencies were those of a perfectionist. But I don't think I am a perfectionist, at least when it comes to most things. I stumbled upon this post that led me to the conclusion that, "maybe creativity is the act of embracing perennially unfinished work." Like whaaaaaaat?! But hear me out. I think it makes sense.

Working on a collage that was formerly abandoned.

People are always changing, and therefore (as the author points out in the article above) their ideas are always changing. Peoples' tastes and preferences change, along with their opinions, values, world views, and much more. That's part of what makes us human. So it makes sense that I may sometimes feel that I left a piece of work unfinished. At the time, I may very well be satisfied with my creation. For who I am at that exact moment and the criteria that I want to meet, the work seems finished to me. Fast forward to, days, weeks, or even years later and you might find yourself reflecting on that work and asking, "what was I thinking?!" But that's only because you have probably changed since then. Even if it was only a day ago, things have happened to you and you've encountered life experiences that probably changed or confirmed what you already knew or believed. It's not that you did a terrible job before, it's that your expectations of yourself have now evolved and ideally, have been elevated. Over time you hope that your tastes are refined, your opinions become more grounded, and overall you become more familiar with who you actually are. When this happens it's easy to look back at your past work and condemn it as unfit, immature, or maybe even unfinished. Perhaps the idea you were trying to convey simply hadn't come to fruition yet. Or maybe that piece isn't even relevant to who you are now. There's a chance that it just doesn't make sense to you anymore. Your work isn't unfinished; you've just changed and maybe you could benefit from revisiting some things. Revisiting your past work allows you to see how you've grown and what has changed about you. Hopefully you're more satisfied with what you see today. If you're not working towards trying to be the best version of yourself (cornball again, I know) then what's the point? Like, for real, what is the point of everything?!?!??! Just kidding, not trying to get all existential up in here.

I've been thinking about change a lot lately and how it affects different people. I've always identified as the type of person that doesn't adjust well to change. I think it's so scary. To change is to enter the unknown (dramatic, but you know what I mean). In my recent therapy sessions we've been talking about changes occurring in my life, and how they're happening out of my control. Kind of scary at first, but now I'm realizing that it's exactly what I needed. For the longest time I felt like nothing was happening, nothing was changing, and I would be stuck in the same place forever. I felt like I was stuck in a hole that I could never dig myself out of. These thoughts contributed to my depression and overall feelings of hopelessness. After some therapy and a wee bit o' good ol' antidepressants, I was finally able to pull myself out of that dark place and take a step back to reflect on why I was feeling that way. I had one 'aha!' moment in therapy recently where I was asked, "If you could tell yourself something two months ago that you know now, what would it be?" It took me a minute, but I eventually replied, "That nothing lasts forever." And it couldn't be any truer. I'm not saying that I'm the first person to come to this conclusion, but for me it was kind of revolutionary. No matter how terrible something is (or wonderful, for that matter), it's going to end. I was feeling so hopeless and depressed because I couldn't see any signs of change in my near future. It's easy to tell yourself things are never going to change, and then believe it. It was a pretty vicious cycle. I was trying to change things for myself but I was struggling with motivation (yet another lovely aspect of depression) and as a result nothing would change. I would only prove to myself that what I was thinking was actually true. I'm not sharing these things to throw anyone that reads this into a spiraling vortex of doom. I'm sharing because I want people to know that no matter how terrible things get, or how hopeless you feel, that it will end. There is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can't see it right now. I don't think I'm there yet, but I'm definitely getting closer and it feels so unbelievably refreshing. If you've ever dealt with mental health issues, I'd like to hear about how you're working through them or if they've been overcome. I think it's important to start an open conversation about mental health. Depression and anxiety don't just happen when we're behind closed doors. They affect every part of our lives and it's time we start acting like it!

If you or someone you know needs help with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issues, please visit The National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis and need immediate help please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).


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