I know that this is an overused term, and depending on who it was coming from may have had a very different definition. If you go back to the Madonna era, she used this term, and it carried an adult undercurrent. I intend to speak to how we have the opportunity to express ourselves every day in everything we do.
One of the things I have always said to my wife is to find your form of expression. Her usual response is she is not an artist, and she has no skill or talent to express. I will censor my answer, which I usually give her, but it is pretty much a load of poop. That is what I want to focus on in this blog, what is expression worth expressing.
When we were children learning everything for the first time, we were able to express good and bad freely because we didn't have control and were finding our voice. As we grow and encounter life, people's opinions, and critics, we are self-guided towards expressing what is socially acceptable. In that process, I believe we tend to censor and hold back in fear of being visible or socially highlighted in an awkwardly focused manner. We have become comfortable with living in the shadows, and the bright public light is not our cozy place. But that is where the expression which is part of our lifeblood resides, so we have to overcome the fear we have put on ourselves so we can tap into our expressiveness.
Expression comes in many forms and is not limited to art. I tell my children that whenever you do something, your name is attached to it, and that is representing you. In those moments of life, be it cleaning your room, doing what your boss at work asks, or knitting a pair of socks; put your expression in it. That is what makes a job something more and creates an emotional tie to the task or effort. When you have the emotional connection the best, you will be part of that moment. When you attach and invest in whatever it is you are doing, you are in the moment and not a million miles away living in your mental fantasy land. That is where the difference lies, which we refer to as expression.
One of the mountains we have to overcome is our irrational belief that we are worthy of being noticed. To that, I would say there are external and internal forms of expression. I keep a journal for my personal expression, which I keep to myself because, like an apple bit into for the first time, it is crisp, but as the air hits it, the moment fades and turns brown in the air, which is what could happen with outside forces. But the other side of the expression is external and is essential to our mental health. If we don’t have a voice of individual expression, it leads to a lonely journey, which limits our opportunity of acceptance and acknowledgment with others along our path. Yes, that is where the fear of rejection lives, but if you don’t put yourselves out there, you are going to walk your journey alone. Along with rejection comes acceptance, the opposite side of the same coin, but if we don't put any part of our being out there living in fear, we will get nothing. Getting nothing is a safe place, I admit, but is it the healthiest life?
For me, expression meant putting myself out there for judgment. That is not exactly something which is a comfortable place for me. In my paintings sure, I can put my expression out there because when I paint, it is for me and if you like it great and if not that‘s ok too. My writing, on the other hand, is much more difficult for me. Growing up and even today, I have never really felt confident in my writing skills, which has held me back from being able to express myself through writing. I have learned on my journey with a lot of wisdom through mentoring, that I have pretty good content to share, and my fear was based on the formal editing of my writing. The great thing about living in today's day and age is that we have computers and applications which help us overcome our fears. Do I still deal with those insecurities, sure, but I also know that my content is a vital part of my expressive writing, not the skill of editing or punctuating. There are tools and people who can help me solve those minor details. Most authors utilize editors to help pull their works together in socially acceptable formate. Find cures to your roadblocks, don't settle with good enough.
If we choose to keep our expression to ourselves, then we are selfish to believe we are the only people in the entire world who are feeling what we are feeling. When in all reality, many others might be in the same place and need a life branch to pull them out of their dark place. When we are only looking inward because of fear, we can miss the opportunity to help others who are just like us even if we feel we are not worthy. Our unique forms of expression are our personal signature to who we are and create an opportunity for people to see us.
Expression is the personal undercurrent an individual brings to whatever they are doing. An individual's expression can be boisterous and loud, or it can be subtle and lingering. As an artist, I tap into my emotions and express often, and after a long hard day at work, it is a tool that helps me make sense of the good and bad feelings from my recent journey. When I say express yourself, I am challenging you to find that place where you can rebuild your inner peace, and if you choose, you can share it with others. For me, as an artist, I seek expression everywhere as we are all different, and my experience limits my form of expression. Seeing others express themselves inspires me and teaches me to have more understanding beyond what I already see and know.
Photo By: Lon Hyatt
My challenge to you, if you are reading this, is to find your zone of expression personally or publicly. Don’t let fear limit your potential or stifle your inner voice of emotional expression, you might be holding the keys to inspiring the next Michelangelo, Frederic Chopin, or Ray Edwards. Dare to cast those stones into the smooth crystal water, potentially causing ripples of impact to those who might see you. You never know how your expression might impact or influence the next person.
Take the risk and throw that stone into the water. Find your quiet corner, and please express yourself. The world needs to see you.