2017 RECAP

The year of 2017 was mental. That is all I can say; another one where so much happened, it could span a million life times. Like 2016, it was mentally exhausting due to dealing with my Transition, but unlike last year, there was a lot of art produced :) Here’s just some of the highs and lows from 2017, the year I like to call, ‘Making Friends With My Mind.’

SOME OF THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF 2017

So much happened in 2017; it really was an intense year. It’s weird, the first half was very much focused on my transition, the later half, my art … yet looking back, I see how both were actually helping each other.

For the first six months I just focused on my mindset and started going outside as me for the first time, art helped here as I went out and sketched in public. Sketching helped take my mind off any negative talk, if people looked at me, I could say it was because I was sketching and not because I potentially looked like a man in a dress lol If I hadn’t been sketching, I don’t think I could have gone out.

Sadly, I suffered multiple cases of transgender abuse, and fell into a dark period of suicide. Much worse than 2016, but with the help of my gender therapist, Niece, Sister and friends at the Not Alone Plymouth Transgender Support Group I was able to find a much happier place mentally, I even go out now without a wig, proudly showing off my balding hairline :) I still don’t fully accept my so called ‘faults’, but I’m doing my best, and know one day I will be at peace with myself.

The last three months of 2017 were all about The Digital Dream 75 day art challenge; that was fun. Again my transgenderness overlapped here, as I brought to life lilSOPHiE; a character whose been in my mind for years. Art wise, the challenge was a huge success: I learnt so many new skills, enjoyed the act of digital painting and allowed myself to put out imperfect work, not caring what anyone thought of it. I showed up every single day for three months, and come up with so many fun ideas for the future.

The challenge was tough, but so rewarding.

I also produced three new realistic drawings, the most since 2014: Girl With Long Lashes, Lion – Out Of The Shadows and Scarlet, the latter being a present for my gender therapist of her cat Scarlet :) My art and being transgender merged on so many levels. Exhibiting my drawings at an Art Exhibition as Sophie Lawson, was the big one.

I would argue that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in the whole of my life! It changed everything.

After that I was able to start going to Art Class as me, they accepted me, I changed my name by deed poll and for the first time in my life believed I could maybe pull this transition off. Going to work with makeup and female clothes is still proving to be a little bit too much at the moment, but I have evolved personally so much this year that I know in time that too will become reality.

Sadly, there are still negative traits hanging around, mostly based around social anxiety. Negative thoughts that pop up and try to sabotage me, but I am doing my best to overcome them with daily affirmations, meditations and journaling before bed.

All in all, 2017 was a tough year, but a year where everything started to come together. I realised overcoming mental issues doesn’t happen overnight, so while at times it can be frustrating, you just have to keep doing your best, have patience, kindness and make sure you’re always learning from every situation.

GOALS FOR 2018

I didn’t set any goals last year, yet I achieved so much in 2017; looking back, things just seemed to flow naturally in a really beautiful way. For 2018 I have some clear goals though, a few are pretty big, scary things, but they say, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough :) My main goals for 2018 include –

  • Sketching every day
  • Posting daily to Instagram etc
  • Starting up a lilSOPHiE art school
  • Selling art via this website
  • Going to work as me
  • Having a stall at a comic convention with lilSOPHiE prints
  • Being myself in all social situations
  • Launching a weekly podcast
  • Quitting one of my cleaning day jobs

The short version is

ART GOAL • HAVE A STALL AT A COMIC CONVENTION

TRANSITIONING GOAL • GO TO WORK AS ME

MY 3 BIG 2018 GOALS

1. LAUNCH A WEEKLY PODCAST – the fear here is my voice, I’ve had various operations over the years on my vocal cords, so I know I run the risk of receiving negative comments, but, I want to do a podcast … so I’m going to :) Two in fact, one will be art based, one will be transgender based. They will alternate on a weekly schedule starting early 2018.

2. HAVE A STALL AT A COMIC CONVENTION – the fear here is being around people and putting myself out there. I’m an Introvert by nature, so prefer to be on my own, and I’m also still trying to get on top of social anxiety which is a separate issue. At times the Social Anxiety still gets the better of me. The thing is, I hear so many other Artists who I look up to and admire, all say when they started they were terrified as they too are introverts, but they still did it anyway, so I’m just going to do it anyway too :)

3. GO TO WORK AS ME – the fear here is still caring what people think of me. My day job is cleaning, which I love, one of the jobs is full of blokey blokes though and this is the main excuse at the moment holding me back. I have to do it though, I just need to create a baby step plan on how to pull it off. I believe I’ll start wearing female work shoes, than trousers, than a coat, than one day I’ll rock up with makeup on and never look back :) That’s the plan, it just feels so scary, but 2018 is the year I will do it. Once I go to work as me, I’m pretty much Sophie full time than, so my transition will sort of be complete, apart from any future surgery.

THE ULTIMATE GOAL?

My ultimate goal is to be Me at all times. At work, at home, around family, around friends, on my own, with one person, or with a million people … I just want to be so comfortable with who I am, that I can totally be myself 100% of the time. That’s the main personal goal I have, and the truth is, I’m miles off it at the moment. When on my own I’ve always been 100% comfortable, it’s around people I’ve always been anxious. I’ve made so much progress at work in 2017, I would say I’m 95% comfortable now when at work, which is a massive improvement to who I was at the start of the year.

Around family is my biggest area I need to improve on, and large groups of people. Around family I seem to be about 30%, I think this is due to the relationships being so solid and based on years of me being my old anxious self, so I seem to default back to that state, its proving really hard to break free. In large groups I am about 20%, but I used to be 0% so I have made progress.

I actually emailed Sam Schaeffer from the iOvercameAnxiety.com course, asking for help in family situations. He was kind enough to email me back, saying it’s because when at work you have a clear reason for being there, so can talk knowing you can always return back to working. Yet when around family for a meal, or even large groups, you normally have no reason to be there other than to small talk. As an introvert, small talk I find mostly pointless, so it’s a case of either steering the conversation to something you want to talk about, or just asking questions and showing interest in the chit chat even if it seems like a big waste of time, or, just getting up and going home.

That last bit may sound harsh, but this is why I like Sam’s course, the truth is, if you’re in a situation which is proving pointless and exhausting, why not just get up and leave. Sometimes that is your best option. Get up, go home and meditate on what you were thinking. Maybe it’s ok to not go to the next family meal. The course explains all of this in detail, how you can, and sometimes should, say no to social situations, you just have to make sure you’re not saying no because of fear, and also, not saying yes because of fear too.

It’s a complex topic that I’m no where near understanding, so I’m not sure I can pull this complete contentment around people off in 2018, but I just hope I can end 2018 better than I start it :) In fact, that’s my main goal for 2018, to just do my best, show up every day and do something that will get me closer to my ultimate goal of being the best artist and human I can possibly be.

Happy 2018 to you :)

ART ENABLES US TO FIND OURSELVES AND LOSE OURSELVES AT THE SAME TIME

Thomas Merton