Image: “Being”, 12 x 9 inch monotype
North Dakota Nice
As a native of the midwest, I learned early on “to go along to get along”. The phrase North Dakota nice or Minnesota nice was a common stereotype and I was brought up to be polite, especially in public. This is not an undesirable trait by any means and has certainly served and continues to serve me well. North Dakota nice becomes problematic when personal feelings and values are buried beneath the mantra of being polite or by the constraints of societal conventions.
Going Along to Get Along
In my teen and young adult life, seething below the surface were numerous internal disputes that I had with myself and the status quo. I would often take out my frustrations on inanimate objects such as doors, cupboards, drawers, steps, sports equipment. My family suffered via my yelling, eye rolling, exasperated sighs, angry exits and general passive aggressive behavior. All non-productive, but necessary for me to get whatever it was out of my being in an environment that would not totally reject me, which was the unconditional love of family.
In public, I got along to get along mainly to avoid rejection. This is life for many and certainly not news to those who have suffered being silenced.
Underdeveloped Verbal Skills
Plagued with underdeveloped verbal skills in most areas of my public persona, I never raised my hand in any class throughout my young life. Even as I got older, I rarely asked questions for fear of looking stupid. I was curious as hell, but could not stomach any kind of rejection. Part of my inept verbal skills arose because of childhood beliefs that I was not good enough, what I had to say did not matter. I was female, perceived as being cute and sweet. To say that now, exhausts me emotionally and makes me physically ill.
I was an angry individual hiding under that “going along to get along” mantra, but I rarely wallowed or considered myself a victim. I eventually learned my modus operandi was to take some kind of action. Action that would and could move my feelings and values from deep under the surface to the forefront. One of those actions became creating art.
There were no artists in my family and zero indication that being an artist was my destiny. None of the creative arts were of much interest or affordable in my family upbringing, at least not in my formative years. My young parents were often in survival mode. We lived in a typical small town, one where values encompassed family, religion, free entertainment and hard work.
Growing up, art was seen as an admirable talent, but nothing to be taken seriously and certainly not as a field to pursue. Art in middle and high school was comprised of drawing realistically and not for any other purpose. In order to survive, I went along to get long.
Art Saved Me from My Silence
Slowly I began making decisions that moved me away from social conventions that no longer served the person I was becoming. Art chose me as I moved through my twenties, even as I attempted numerous other pursuits. I look back now and realize art is what saved me from my silence.
Although I was unaware at the time, my internal desires during my fine art college experience in New Orleans shifted. I worked through a need to visually express and did so by creating work that had personal meaning and was surprised when I was not totally rejected for doing so. I survived not having to “go along to get along”. Finally able to channel my desires. I guess this is where “Doing My Being” began.
Michelle Lindblom Studio