Ness Lee: Take Care of Yourself

I have never thought much about taking care of myself. To this day, still, I feel like it is something I push to the side. I would emphasize and preach about it to friends and loved ones but would never think to mattered for myself.  Why do I deserve care?  If not by another, let alone by myself for myself.

Unbeknownst to me until last year, a lot of my work stems from exactly that.  Figuring out why and what I want for myself - what I desire and what I yearn for. The human connections I feel but can’t logically explain. Everything I wish I have said and done. In many ways you can say it is a lot of dwelling, a lot of marinating in my thoughts.  To me, I now realize, this was the care I was doing for myself.  It was a conversation I would have with paper - every line, every stroke - to me was just a way to tell myself things are going to be okay. The way lines are smooth, and everything is connected - to me, is a reassuring hug. A reminder that things will get better and life is connected in many ways.

There is something strange and fascinating about personal connection - within oneself and with others.  There is that unknown spark - and unspoken click when you just know the same wavelengths are being ridden together. In many ways that is the love I feel for when immersed in art - whether it be visually digesting, creating or just talking about it. For me, it is a way of communication like no other - the only language where I have ever truly felt comfortable. 

I have never been one for words (although, people who have met me might say otherwise). I’ve always grown up with a sort of hesitancy about language and expression. Actions have always spoke louder than words for me, and to this day I still feel like nothing can quite say exactly and everything I want to say better than the pieces I create. 

It is like that feeling when you have something manifesting in your chest - your thoughts, a problem, or something you just need to release from yourself. There are so many which ways to choose to do so - shouting from the rooftops, talking it out endlessly to a friend, going for an intense run or getting really drunk - to name a few. For myself, it is drawing and creating. It is like that first gasp of air once you resurface from the water after drowning after thinking you would stay drowning. 

We all need that release - and to understand what part of ourselves we are relieving. For myself it is a lot of emotional release and recognizing that art has been exactly that has been relieving. The adventure of finding a balance and realizing the things that need to be done to create that balance - to satisfy your many selves, acknowledging that they exist and that they can change and change can be good. 

A lot of it has been a personal exploration as to why this act of creation was helping. In a way I feel like drawing was how I controlled myself from the internal stew that was my mind.  Figuring out exactly that has been a for the most part a blessing. Realizing that I was using it as some sort of crutch or buffer and not in other ways to open up to the people I cared about has been the harder part.

Sometimes I feel like my whole existence in this life is to constantly learn – learn from mistakes, experiences, of others and myself.  Learning about ways to take care of myself, and recognizing the deep seeded reasons as to why I never felt deserving of it in the first place, which has been an important and mind numbing journey in itself.  But staying curious, open and honest has never failed me thus far. 

Written and illustrated: Ness Lee