Surrounded by sunlight streaming in from the window, I am sitting on my bed, propped up with fluffy pillows, reading Danielle Lowe’s People Say I’m An Artist, But I Don’t Feel Like One.
Danielle pulls me in for a comforting read with “for anyone who has ever felt a little (or a lot) different” written in her handwriting on the first page. In this short, yet captivating read, Danielle lays out to the reader how music was her saving grace when she struggled with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. She also explains that while she is known for this, she sometimes feels she isn’t an artist.
I deeply relate to this idea of not feeling enough, or feeling like I’m in competition with others as I call myself a writer and artist. I also hesitate with the labels because I know and find worth in my craft, but I don’t always believe I’m that talented. I feel like the struggle with finding self worth in the depths of mental illness struggles is very relatable so I appreciate that Danielle took this angle, as other people out there could feel heard and less alone in exploring these feelings that entrap us. I, too, use writing as an outlet, like Danielle uses music as one, to express things that feel too difficult to say. Creativity is a wonderful place to explore for those of us with these struggles, as it creates a safety bubble against what is weighing us down.
Including personal drawings and self-written lyrics, Danielle shows the reader how deep of a passion music is to her. I think it’s interesting how she draws this parallel between creativity and pain, “Nothing drove me to write music like the difficult years had and I didn’t get it. I still don’t really. I tried to write other songs. But they felt lifeless. All of them. I kept going back to the “why” of why I was writing music and didn’t have an answer. So my life moved forward in all other ways, but my music really did not. I began to question if my creative burst was just a side effect of my sadness or truly a part of me”. As someone who is in recovery from mental illness like Danielle, I relate to this a lot as at times, as I’ve found less passion in writing as I recover. I have written a lot about pain and loss and sadness. I write what I’m feeling. So who am I and what is my craft if life is better and my emotions are stable? Am I still a creative person? Am I still a writer? It makes a lot of sense to question it and fully understand. It ties back to how some of us may feel like we must qualify ourselves as artists, or how we feel we may lack certain qualities or abilities that other people in our field have.
Danielle concludes this first chapter with stating that perhaps writing is how she processes pain. I love how she validates herself here, despite the questioning, “But maybe there are just different facets of my creativity that come to life during different seasons, though creativity is always woven into my identity”.
In the next chapter, Danielle explores her identity. She connects imposter syndrome, metamotivation and the Jonah complex to her struggle to label herself as a musician, and even someone worthy of being accepted into college. It’s interesting to read how deeply rooted the struggle of declaring herself as a musician is. I think we can sometimes get caught up in wondering if we’re good enough that we can altogether forget what we have accomplished and created. And how we’ve made an impact on this world, even if it’s been a small one.
In her third chapter “Silence”, Danielle describes how a traumatic experience caused her to lose her gift of song-writing and singing for some time. I appreciate her including a personal journal entry delving into just how difficult that time was for her as it’s very vulnerable and real. There is so much strength to be found in vulnerability as we all experience pain, so I applaud Danielle.
In the following chapters, Danielle goes on to cover defining success, facing fears and finding purpose. I love her commitment to challenging her self doubt and inner critic woven throughout each chapter.
Danielle closes People Say I’m An Artist, But I Don’t Feel Like One by declaring that she is an artist, and I couldn’t be more proud. This book took me on her very personal, and sometimes painful and lonely journey of finding herself and finding worth in what she creates.
I want to thank Danielle for writing and sharing her story. And I encourage anyone out there struggling to find their voice in mental illness recoveries, or even in life, to buy this book on Amazon. Danielle’s writing is well-written, relatable and very honest. I’ve read it a few times, each time in one sitting. You can’t put it down! You’ll want to keep reading and follow her on this journey of self acceptance.