The first time I wasn’t happy with drawing

On January 2017, I decided to become a freelance artist; I was able to work with good clients during the first quarter of the year.

By the half of the year, I decided to start writing a book I’ve planned in my head.

In September 2017, I published my first ever e-book called Seedlings: A Short Story Collection. I am thankful to those who bought and said good things about it.

Being consistent in posting drawings and stories in Instagram too helped me in practicing my skill and getting my work out there.

Earlier this week, a kind and talented person I met over at Instagram and Arriane Serafico’s #daretoshareIGChallenge, Ms. Cindy Wong Dela Cruz of Filipino book curator 8letters, offered to publish and distribute Seedlings as hard copies! What a dream!

I am very thankful for all of these blessings and opportunities.

But last night, I felt anxious. I felt scared. I felt sad.

Knowing myself, whenever those feelings are triggered, they can snowball from there. Then thoughts about self-worth, body image issues, questions like “Is it worth it?” came rampaging down on me.

I should be happy with the way things are going (Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond thankful to God, my family, friends, and the kind people who believed in me and gave me a chance!), yet my worries got the better of me.

And for the first time, I acknowledged that I didn’t feel happy with drawing. With creating.

Some may think that just because we are doing what we love to do and we have control over our schedules that we are happy most of the time, but truly, there are moments like this.

Doubt. Fear. Worries. And these negative things invite more negative energy into the equation. These have the potential to penetrate the artist as well.

Drawing, creating, writing – these are not easy! One may simply be just drawing, quiet and focused, but the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical are at work too.

Before, drawing and writing were sources of happiness and fulfillment for me, and I would dream about working with Pixar or Tonko House (!!!) someday, and write and publish my own books.

Then last night, I just had this episode of crying and questions.

It is tough to do something I love, while having to make sure that it will be enough to sustain me. For a living. For livelihood. For giving back to my parents too. I also thought about where this is all going. Can I actually make it as a writer and illustrator? Can I do this for the rest of my life? Am I making a difference in other people’s lives? Are my writings and drawings giving them hope and joy?

I wrote these words down out of emotion last night:

“I’m supposed to be happy, but why am I sad? I feel all my body image issues and no-self-love issues are raining down on me on this particular night, and I don’t feel so good nor fulfilled anymore much with drawing.

I hope tomorrow will be better.”

Then I finally slept past 1 o’ clock in the morning with my heart heavy. And when my heart is heavy, that is when I find that I get bad dreams.

But, what I got was something else.

It wasn’t a bad dream, but rather, it felt like a message.

I dreamed about doing art.

I was in a classroom, well-lit, with wooden chairs, and windows at the far right of the room. I had my art materials with me on my chair.

Then came Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, who is one of my favorite artists! I think he was our professor in the dream. Whenever I felt sad or doubtful, I would always watch Tonko House videos, and then like magic, I feel much better for some reason. I can only hope that my art too has the same kind of energy to give to those who view and read my writings.

He was going to teach us that time. When he asked us all to get our papers ready where we would draw, I tried looking for a clean new page from this brown sketchbook (my friend Arriane’s birthday gift to me) of mine, but as I turned the pages, they all turned to newsprint advertisements/coupons of people in disco dancing attire! I turned and turned, but it seemed as though something kept turning the pages to these ads.

How could I possibly draw now?

Then I found another black sketchbook of mine (which I bought before in Michael’s). Maybe there was a page I could use, but as I turned the pages too, they were all filled!

However, when I came to the last page, there it was!

An empty page save for a light pencil stroke on the top half of it.

I tore it out from the sketchbook, and I recall having stray bits of paper on the side too. I wasn’t able to tear it neatly.

But I did not care.

All I had in my mind then was… If I could make something beautiful with this small page, I can still make it.

I don’t remember what happened next; I think that was the time I woke up already.

It’s interesting how dreams work, how they can be a vessel of meaning and encouragement to us, especially when our waking life or moments are currently unpleasant.

Just after a night of doubts, not giving myself love, being worried, questioning my skills, and what it all amounts too in the grand scheme of things, of life, and of purpose, I get a dream that reminded me how much I love drawing, that it is a big part of who I am, that it is one of the essences that makes me ‘me,’ and to try again.

I saw and affirmed that I was just having a period of strengthening my love for drawing and writing.

Because even if all else failed, I would still keep looking for a page. And I would be happy to find one, even if it is small, even if it had markings on it already.

Because this is the only page I have, I will use it to create something beautiful.

Because this is the only life I have, I will use it to do what I know is God’s calling for me:

To write and to draw.

To you who are reading this, thank you for your time.

Find your page, find your tool, your blueprint, your lesson plan – whatever it is that is important for you in your field – and make something beautiful out of it. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The first time I wasn’t happy with drawing”

  1. I hope you’re feeling much better now Arli! Sending love and hugs from the other side of the screen haha ❤
    And congratulations on the soon-to-be-published Seedlings!!! *throws confetti all around*
    May that beautiful and wonderful dream continue to become a reality. 🙂


    1. Thank you for the hugs, encouragement, wishes, and congratulations, Denise! Hay, I don’t deserve such thoughtful friends like you! Haha! Big bear virtual hugs coming your way! Let’s travel soon together! 🙂


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