Waiting for permission to be me (2019)


What does it mean to wait for permission to be ourselves?
How long will we wait?
Where does this idea of permission come from?  

While I was waiting for permission to be me.

As I enter the world as child, then as an adult, I am given ideas of how I should be. These ideas are presented to me by my families, my teachers, my friends, my culture. Most of these ideas get absorbed, before I can fully think for myself. Because I grew up with this thinking I believe that it’s normal, it’s true, this is how the world is. Only when I begin asking questions or hearing other peoples experiences and perspectives do I start to question my own set of beliefs and ideas. It causes a glitch in my reality. But that glitch is powerful because it allows me to take a look and ask, “Is this what I believe or is this what I was told to believe?”

In ‘Waiting for permission to be me’ I look back at myself in my different roles inside the idea of waiting. What was I waiting for? Was I waiting for someone to say ‘hey it’s ok to be you’. Was I waiting for someone to say I was good enough? I am looking from a distance, reflecting on the absurdity of this idea that I was waiting. From that distance, like an anthropologist, I can see the strangeness. I am past the pain of that specific voicelessness.And so I begin to build my own manual.

while I was waiting to become me—things happened.
like two children popped out—like i got married—like my dad died

like i said i was an artist but didn’t say i wrote
or like i said i wrote but never told you i made things
like i said i can’t make it tonight
but didn’t tell why
didn’t tell you i had two children home alone

while i was waiting i hid parts of myself from other parts of myself
i was waiting for permission
for someone to tell me how to be me
that it was ok to be me

and while i was waiting things just kept occurring
like my husbands resume got really long
and mine got really short

i arrived on a marsh in cape cod
i watched geese eat grass—i made marsh paintings
pear paintings, paintings with and without horizons

i put tiny words on scraps of paper
and the scraps of paper got lost—and empty paint tubes piled up
on the floor—cobalt blue and ultramarine
soon I will be me i said

and i studied myself intensely
testing ideas of self like the words on the scraps of paper
on my studio floor i laid down on my back and looked up at the ceiling…

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