Challenges are an air supply on which I breathe. Challenges exploit my perfectionistic nature, the confinements of constant self-improvement within which I have learned to live, a dark masochism that exists to torment me and to see me grow. These are all things that I thought I had come to terms with. I had accepted perfectionism as a part of my disposition and saw my constant crave for challenge as something that set myself apart from the people around me. I pledged only to see the benefit of the very things that caused me the most mental and emotional pain. I did not know that the biggest challenge that would reveal itself to me was the challenge of expanding my horizons beyond the cramped parameters of my own self-centered wants and needs.
One night last year, I had a nightmare.
I was used to nightmares that dealt with shallow and inconsequential things – dreams of shattering my cellphone, or getting lost in a foreign land – but this particular nightmare had a strange effect on me. It was the first dream to which I felt a significant attachment, a correlation between its events and those of real life. I dreamt that I fell off a skyscraper. It was enthralling, invigorating, but it also left me in a state of great unease. There was some sort of internal conflict I was completely conscious of as I descended thousands of imaginary dream metres. I was falling from something towering – the high expectations I had placed on myself.
Initially, I did not think much of my strange dream. It then became a catalyst in a deep exploration I conducted within my own conscience. The inner conflicts that later ensued were long and complex but they eventually left me with an important realization. I learned to recognize the selfishness, the pure narcissism, in the way I had been accustomed to orienting myself to the world around me. Self-improvement and self-glorification had been the alpha and omega of my entire life’s mission statement. My nightmare had inspired me to see beyond this limited approach to the earth – I came to acknowledge that there was so much more in the world to live for than solely for yourself, that such things die fleetingly. For once in my life, I was conscious of the effects my decisions could have on the people around me.
I created this oil pastel piece to explore the personal impulses and inner conflict that have only made themselves clear to me in the short hours of my sleep. It had been then that I was able to come to terms with the unsuppressed, unfiltered language of my mind; it had been then that I was able to witness completely the subconscious struggles that influence so much of what I do and create.The result is a piece that is both meaningful to me as artwork and as a reminder of a great challenge, a battle against the most selfish parts of myself—a deep obsession with one’s own self.
Bianca Weeko Martin