Friday, August 13, 2010

Feature Friday: Bethany Violet Hall Stephens

[The Second of our Feature Friday guest posts comes to you today in the form and spirit of a lovely woman. I've known Bethany since college and she was always the bright spot of my day. She's an incredibly beautiful human being and a very talented artist. Welcome, Bethany!]

Hello, Fantastic Spatulans! *waves virtual hand* Who am I? I am Bethany, a photographer/artist/writer, farmer, ex-art teacher, and soon to be (relatively!) cosmetologist. That said, I've been thinking a lot lately about who we are, what defines us, and what we allow to define us. For a long time, I, like a lot of people, let my circumstances dictate who I was to a certain extent and would try to translate who I am into words - who "our people" are, what we're good at, where in this little big world that we dream our dreams and have our struggles, what religion we are, what we look like, what our job is, what kind of music we like, and so on. Of course those definitely help convey who we are to an extent, it really isn't WHO we actually are at heart.

When I was teaching, so many students (especially females) would constantly fret that they were too fat, too stupid, too smart, too artistic, to preppy, too Goth, too country, or too “too” (as an older lady I once knew used to say). Instead of just starting on a project and going with the flow, they would fret and be so scared of doing poorly and of being picked on by “everyone” that they would never take the leap and create anything when their ideas were actually really cool and thoughtful. Why can’t we be comfortable in our own skin? For too long, I would beat myself up over my self-perceived flaws and old mistakes and would let what others said about my art, my looks, or such affect my mood/outlook way too much. I’d fret and worry if a decision was right or wrong so much that I would end up never taking a leap or creating anything, or, if I did, I‘d be self-conscious about it or keep it in the confines of my sketchbook. What’s the good in that? Why listen to the voice telling you not to create and be yourself over the yearning to create and be who you are? Just like the kids in my class, sometimes it’s easier to listen to the first voice because by not acting we never have to deal with the risk of putting our real selves out there. Sure we can keep on trudging through everyday fulfilling an old dream and help some people along the way, but how much happier would we be and how much more good could we do in the world if we were true to ourselves and our current calling? There will always be people that will try to bring you down, diminish your dreams and ideas, and kill your joy - largely because they’re in the same boat trying to justify their own insecurities. The lyrics to part of a song by the Avett Brothers that I like goes: “ If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected....decide what to be and go be it.” After going through a lot of setbacks and changes in the last couple of years, I’ve decided that life is too short to not be completely comfortable in my own skin. Go be true to yourself, do your thing, work hard, love people, and, I think, the rest will take care of itself. If it doesn't it will all work itself out, what really was lost that wouldn't have been lost anyway?

p. to the s. I’d love it if you’d come over and visit at my public blog at if you’re feeling so led, and Godspeed to you and yours. -bvhs

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