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  • Olive Persimmon

Denial Doesn't Work in Art

In my last post I stated boldly that I wanted to kiss someone and I didn’t care who it was. I also brought up deli meat and confessed to being a huge creep on the train.

These things don’t make me look good.

In fact, if you didn’t know me, it might seem like I’m a desperate weirdo. Rest assured- I am not.

Before I clicked “post” I considered the consequences of being so open. Were my ex-boyfriends and former teachers going to see this and think I’d gone off the deep end? Were strangers going to judge me and think I was a loser? If any future potential prospects saw this blog would they be immediately turned-off by my honesty?

I thought about all of these things and then clicked “publish” anyway.

I clicked “publish” even though it’s really hard to share personal stories and know that we may be judged. Even though it’s not easy to publicly say “Here I am. Flaws and all,” we still need to speak our truth.

I clicked “publish” because a part of me believes that being vulnerable and being exactly who I am, on the good days and bad, may give someone else the courage to be exactly who they are.

Some of the best advice I ever received came from my amazing editor, Nathan Wahl. (You should all hire him btw, because he’s really damn good). After months of editing, he gave me back my full book, covered in red pen. In one of the chapters about losing my first love, I diminished the entire situation by turning it into a joke. My book is a humor novel, so in my mind, I was just doing my job. After all, a lot of humor comes from sad situations. Nathan wrote in the margin “Everything doesn’t have to be funny and I don’t believe that’s how you really felt here. Denial doesn’t work in art. Speak your truth.”

He was right. Denial doesn’t work in art. I’ve learned that through my other passion, public speaking. My most successful speeches are the ones where I sincerely believe in what I am sharing. The speeches where I’m not thinking about what the audience will think of me, but rather, simply telling the story honestly. These speeches are always the most relatable.

And sometimes that truth is funny. Sometimes it’s inspiring or motivational and touching. But sometimes, it’s weird. And sometimes that’s funny. And sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes the truth breaks your heart into a million pieces and reopens old wounds that had long been buried. Sometimes, with the wisdom of hindsight, we look back and reflect on how our truth has changed and laugh about how serious it seemed at the time.

And it’s not always going to make me look good… but it’s ok because people are complex and so am I.

So speak your truth and don’t worry about the consequences. Because the people who love you understand. Because that’s how you create beautiful art. That’s how you move, inspire, and teach people. That’s how you inform, educate and love people. It’s how you say, “Here I am, take me or leave me” and realize that the people you love will take you. It’s how you give them courage by saying, “In return, I’ll love you unconditionally, exactly as you are. You have nothing to prove.” And then we can all create together, without judgment or fear.

I believe amazing things will come from that.

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