23 August 2016

I Was Not Magnificent

Holocene - Bon Iver

Quite recently I was asked: Do you still write? Do you still take photographs? How come I haven't seen you post anything in a while? And with a lump in my throat, I had to answer with the truth: "No, not really."


I have always had this odd relationship with social media and blogging, and becoming somewhat of a public persona (eek, the mere term makes my skin crawl). I've always had a difficulty treading the lines of what I can, should, or should not share.

I do not seek to be some famous person on the internet. I honestly do not like the attention. Haven't I said again and again that I'd rather be like Sumire? Disappearing like smoke under the city lights? I don't have that much followers, but there is still a good number of people who read what I write (sometimes the numbers overwhelm me; over a thousand hits, really? 1,000 views?). Close friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers. I get responses from people all over the world. Sometimes the thought makes me tremble. To be so vulnerable. To be so exposed. The thought is so horrifyingly fearsome to me. And I've vowed never to write what is not honest, so what about in times I have no courage yet to say what is true? I'd rather say nothing at all.

I would justify it to myself by saying, "you don't need to tell them everything" and I don't, but as I have said, the truth is best thing I know to write about. Without truth who am I?

I am a pretty private person. I like keeping to myself. I like small crowds, intimate places, and quiet, delicate moments. I don't believe it's necessary to share every thought, every moment online. But as an artist, where and how do you draw the line between artistic expression and pure narcissism—that horrible practice of posting for likes?

But without pairs of eyes to otherwise admire a piece of art, how is its relevance determined? Is art still art when no one is looking? Where does its value lie? In the creating? Is it in the intense alchemy that only happens between artist and art when they make love in the process, or is it in the number of souls it will touch when it is finished? Or in how deeply it will?

I used to talk a lot about courage, fear and overcoming fear, and living life unfazed of other people's perceptions, but it's not always easy to practice what you preach. I have been in hiding, picking at my own scars, hoping no one would take notice. But to be an artist, to be a person with something to say, is to bring myself at the feet of strangers hoping no one would trample on me. I do not know how I lost it, but the starlights that used to beam from my fingertips have all but reached a depleted state. And I am terrified. I am at the mercy of your perception of me.

I must confess. I have been shrinking myself to make me fit in the pockets of people I wished would not be intimidated over my sometimes magnanimity. I am Winterson's Dog Woman; I know I can be too much at times. So I tried to become smaller, figured perhaps I could fit in. Closed my mouth more, became more indifferent, convinced myself my thoughts didn't matter. Criticized everything I created—what value would this add to the world, I would always ask. I figured nothing, so I would constantly end up discarding what I had created, if not keep them pressed between pages of a journal that now so very seldom gets explored. No waxing nostalgic, no loving admiration of old work and new.

I might have trained myself so well I don't know how to feel big again. Or sometimes to just feel.

In my regular practices to keep grounded, I like to read cards. I recently drew an oracle card which told me a harsh truth I didn't yet realize but somehow have always known. It tells me I tend to worry that people around me and the people I like won't accept me for who I am when, in truth, it is I who cannot accept myself.

Now I am plagued by a paralyzing fear. On many days my anxiety wins over me. It is a new battle with new odds each day. And when I try to write I only find myself staring at a blank white page, heavily overcome with fear. Next thing I know the sun is up, and so am I, still. And still staring at a white page, albeit with a few sentences I face with such distaste.

But don't mistake all this as a kind of false humility. It is, in all its ugly form, plain, toxic insecurity. Me, after all these years, still not loving myself enough to believe that simply being is enough. That I can be at peace with just that.

As in life, in writing, and everything in between, I forget I don't have to be perfect. I forget I only have to be kind, and compassionate, and perpetually honest. Towards my craft, towards others, and above all towards myself. That is all this world ever requires of us.

I forget. I forget.


  1. Nicole, first, hugs!

    Second, we write because writing is Love. We write not to win people, but to reach more people - their souls, specifically. That we may, with our words, our vulnerabilities exposed, we may peel their own vulnerabilities too. That they may be urged to re-examine the trivial, the fleeting, the forgotten. That we may all be be more humane, kinder, more introspective with these words. That's the power you have as a writer. It doesn't matter how many pairs of eyes see your art. What matters is that it is seen -- and it affects. It does. :)

  2. You are such a brave woman to post this. Hugs!

    1. It takes a lot of battling with the self to publish something like this, for everyone to see, but we must always find the courage. Thank you. Hugs back to you. <3

  3. Hi, Nicole,

    As a writer, I learned to live with my insecurities, fears, and monsters. It took me awhile to accept I could not eradicate them completely. From one writer to another, go on, converse with your own monsters.

    Hugs and thoughts from Cebu. :-)

    Your reader,

    1. Jona,

      I hope you know how much this makes me happy. I admire your work, your mind, your courage and soul so so much. I still battle with my monsters constantly, and I'm slowly trying to accept that I might just live with them forever. So now I'm trying to at least make peace with them. Perhaps we could create more beautiful things if we learn to live with each other.

      Sending love and light,

  4. "But to be an artist, to be a person with something to say, is to bring myself at the feet of strangers hoping no one would trample on me."

    Hi, Nicole. I've been a reader for a long time and your works have always intimated me. So much so that I haven't left one comment since I started reading your blog last year. This post, I came back to it, because I felt like I need you to know: you are enough. And if people are threatened by your too-muchness, or force you to become small, you better find better company.

    The year I turned silver (25. hehe), I promised to live an authentic life. For the most part, I was able to keep my promise. But there are moments that I falter. This translates into my writing. These days I only produce hackneyed pieces. A lip-service, if you may. And I fear too that my starlights are gone. But when the fear gets strong, the words come, and I know I'm fine.

    I know this is what happened to you in this post. You wrote this out of fear, but after it all, you are better. Writing is cathartic, yes? Because the truth is. And you, my dear Nicole, writes only the truth.

    Never relent.

    Love and light and courage too,

  5. You are amazing! I'm a fan of yours. :)