comfort in chaos

On not being a tortured artist and learning to love the inherent messiness of me. 

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It’s so easy to romanticise a concept you’re removed from. For instance: when you completely idolise a person, or your idea of a person, only to finally, after years of fantasising about how warm and god-like they’ll be, meet them and realise they’re a total prat. The mystifying illusion is then shattered and you’re slightly bitter, but will eventually be okay without your fabricated hero. 

When I was 16, my idols were some truly troubled people. Teenage angst is a complex and involved rollercoaster of emotions. It does questionable things to those poor little almost-adults. To me, it seemed that all of the great creative minds suffered with some form of demon: Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Van Gogh, Amy Winehouse, Patty Schemel, Hunter S. Thompson. My hormonal brain created a rule that in order to be creatively brilliant, I also had to be a damaged soul. The first time I picked up a cigarette, I fantasised about it leading me down a path of late nights and self-loathing over small glasses of whiskey poured from unnecessary crystal decanters. 

The plot thickens. To add to my twisted fantasy, I had my own actual issues that were causing real damage. We’re talking more than a cigarette and a whisky. If “highly strung” describes a person who’s a little rigid and somewhat uptight, I was strung up so goddamn high my string was no longer in the earth’s stratosphere. Why, at 16, did I put astronomical amounts of pressure on myself to mold to my figurative idea of “perfect?” Anxiety, depression and an underlying vicious eating disorder, of course!

My mental health swiftly torpedoed to a crash-and-burn. I was in hospital for a month, but intensive treatment lasted the next 3 years. Finally, a combination of cognitive coping mechanisms, a fully-functioning body and anti-anxiety medication opened my brain’s gates to a kind of idyllic, sun-shining-sipping-cocktails paradise- a welcome change from its usual fiery abyss. And when I was at my healthiest, without struggle and desperation, both my perfectionism and creativity began to fall away.

I started sleeping in as long as I wanted. Clutter and mess slowly crept onto the wooden floorboards of my room. I didn’t want to do my homework so occasionally I just didn’t, and astonishingly the world ceased to fall apart.

What bothered me in my newfound unbroken brain was my evident lack of that beautifully tortured inspiration. Ironically, when I was grappling with the tumultuous state of my mind I was also writing a tonne, pushing myself to follow my creative pursuits when everything around me was crumbling. Besides, were all brilliant artists not suffering souls? Do we not create the most profound pieces when we’re in pain?

As poetic as this sounds, I quickly realised that when I was sick, my creativity was the only positive in my life. While I was creative, I was also self-destructive and desperately unhappy. And it turns out when I’m not in the grips of anxiety-induced perfectionism; I’m a bit of a disaster.

I frequently fall asleep wrapped up in my headphones with Youtube auto-playing to infinity in the background and tend to follow the due today, do today policy when it comes to most things. A 4-year-old would have a better sense of direction and higher spatial awareness than me. I’ve fallen in, or out of the shower more times than I’d care to admit. I often don’t do my washing and then end up wearing bather bottoms or pyjama shorts instead of underwear. I eat a lot of microwaveable foods because I’m a terrible cook. My phone looks like it’s been run over by a truck due to me dropping it twice a day (on average). I stay up until 3am incessantly writing because I got a streak of brilliance over my sad dinner, feel temporarily accomplished and then never finish anything I started.

Much to my dismay it turns out I’m not Sylvia Plath, which is probably a good thing because her husband seemed like a real piece of work and, in the end, her suffering truly ruined her. 

Ironically, now that I’m not struggling, all I write is about when I was. Like this. But I’m happy to have traded my harrowing artist dream to be without feeling consistently on the cusp of self-imploding. Because it’s easy to romanticise torment when you’re not in the throes of a downwards spiral with pangs of anxiety, loneliness and depression niggling at the back of your mind. Creativity is inherent to your being, not your mental illness. 

IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME

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I mean, has anyone ever talked about how your early 20s sometimes feel like re-entering the world as a tiny, scared, clueless baby? Oh, your 20s!! I remember when I was 20. Don’t you remember when we were 20, Sharon? This is the reception I get every time I tell the Sharons of the world I’m 20. That, or they don’t believe me and instead mistake me for a fifteen-year-old. One of the two.

But really, as much as these years are full of unabashed, self-destructive fun, a lot of the time they’re terrifyingly undefined, neither-here-nor-there moments spent questioning everything you’ve done over the last 20-odd years. There’s always the potential that it is just me having a privileged white existential crisis living out here in a huge share house (The bathroom is just like… so hard to keep clean! Ugh.), but I’d like to think it’s a little more than that.

When you spend so many years knowing a few things, but knowing them very well- your family house, high school friends, the three hangout spots you frequented on the weekends- a new city brings a truly technicolour world of experiences you were completely clueless about. Which you realise are most things. And because young folk are malleable, absorbent and curious creatures, you begin to change.

Maybe, in a moment of weakness, you give yourself a wildly bad drunk haircut with a pair of blunt scissors. A nose ring. An earring. Any piece of metal anywhere, really. You buy a bum bag or an exorbitantly expensive pair of sneakers with what should be grocery money. Maybe you date a boy, or a girl, or both and realise it was a terribly tragic, temporarily life-shattering mistake and you cry and do the cliché breakup things you told yourself you’d never do. It’s confusing and awkward. Like puberty. Except you’re too old to blame it on puberty anymore. I mean, you could. Sometimes I still do. It’s just too hard to resist when you still look fifteen.

Well it turns out I am the reigning queen of subjecting myself to awkward and confusing encounters (subjecting is a nice way of putting it: more like choosing to dive in, head-first). And while this blog was, and will always be, a wonderful aspect of my inappropriately adolescent life, I think it needs to grow up.

Because I’m not nearly as interested in a consistent photo stream of me in different poses anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- I just think I’m not nearly as good at it as I thought I was and, in the spirit of transparency, it’s probably a little detrimental. I’d like this blog (and connected social media platforms, if you will) to be more reflective of my current chaotic-and-clueless state. I think I’ll write more and hopefully it will be entertaining. I really haven’t thought much past that. In life, I mean. That’s about all for the forward planning.

So I hope you enjoy this for all that it may or may not amount to.

Izzy

a year

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A note about New Years: I reserve the opinion that they essentially always suck, are subpar and anticlimactic. Like I said, they remain on the scale of standardly shitty but a few good ones really shine through: the one where I had strep throat and scarlet fever, the one where a car ran over my phone and, most recently, the one where at age 20 I was grounded and punished by being forced to attend a 4-year-olds crazy hat party with my parents.

Although, with my 20 years of (clearly) unparalleled wisdom and insight I have come to realise New Year’s Eve doesn’t necessarily preface the year you’re going to have. Neither does New Year’s Day.

My mum has this weird superstitious tradition of always eating black-eyed peas on January 1st. I think it’s an American thing. Anyway, we’re in Italy and she couldn’t find her special beans at any of the fancy bodegas- so I reminded her that we’ve had some pretty shitty years when we have eaten the beans. She agreed and we’re probably going to eat leftover pizza tomorrow instead.

So, to end it on a cynical note, it doesn’t matter if you eat the beans, New Year’s Eve is overhyped and resolutions are just glorified to-do lists. You don’t have to beat yourself up over not going to the gym 5 days a week or cutting back on your screen time.

Regardless, I hope your 2018 is wonderful. I mean, Trump got elected this year. It’s only up from here, right? RIGHT?!!

symmetry

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Wearing: Thrifted tee, thrifted skirt, Reebok sneakers.
hey6 hey1Melbourne is finally lifting itself out of the annual sad seasonal smog to bring us all new life and- wait for it- sunshine! I don’t think I really noticed the correlation between the seasons and my moods until this winter. Now, instead of rolling my corpse off a sizzling electric blanket at 8 every morning, I’m cleansing, toning and moisturising at 7, out the door (happily) by 8 and managing to squeeze a feel-good funny compilation Youtube video break in there. A new woman.

Despite feeling a looming existential crisis most of the time, that is. Early 20’s are hard. Is this the peak of my attractiveness? My housemate Nina said this to me the other day whilst we were laying on her bead, staring at the ceiling with bowls of two minute noodle remnants sprawled across the duvet cover. “You know this is probably the most attractive we’ll ever be?” God, I hope not. Yesterday I arrived at work with greasy coconut oil residue all over my head from a failed hair mask, dirty overalls and stubby little excuses for fingernails because I had bitten them all off during my last lecture. Does everybody else struggle to have it together as much as I do????????? Just curious. Anyway- I better go and work on that. Enjoy these photos of me looking more together than yesterday.