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Whatever happened to that young girl?

Janet Anderton

By Janet Anderton

Wheel of the Year—Artwork by Janet AndertonOne fact about me. I’m kind of old. Not “visiting a garden centre on a Tuesday to get my 10% discount” old, but old enough to have been a kid when the Beatles were still recording, old enough to remember moon landings, and old enough to fall in love with a Thunderbird. Scott Tracey - don’t judge me, he lived on an island, I was willing to ignore the strings... So, when I was at school, all the kids wanted to be pop stars, astronauts, and superheroes, me, I wanted to be an artist. I was seven. I did a whole project about it, illustrated, of course.

Fast forward fifteen years. I’ve just graduated from art college. I walked out with a poor degree, at the peak of Thatcherism, my confidence at an all time low, a fine art degree did not have employers beating my door down. So I got a job in a supermarket, put down my pencils, and didn’t pick them up again for thirty years. Sure, I still created things, I did crafts, knitting, sewing, and I made an entire other human being, but I stopped drawing. I couldn’t do it anymore, because of the fear.

For me the fear goes something like this “That’s crap. What even is it anyway?” “See (insert name of any other artist, dead or alive) look at their work, now that’s art” “No one in their right mind would want that on their wall!” “FFS! You’re doing it all wrong!” I hear it in my head, but it sounds like my college tutors.

I started drawing again in 2015. Pulled back to it by seeing other artists showing their work on Tumblr, and having a gaping hole to fill in my life. A year later, through the miracle of the Internet, I made a friend who encouraged me, and eventually I posted some stuff, and people said nice things, mostly. Something still felt off, though I didn’t know what. Then, in 2017, walking across a bridge in New York, with the same friend, I said “Whatever happened to that young girl?” and just as if speaking those words out loud could summon magic, the universe somehow heard, and within a few months I had changed my entire life and my stars.

The first time I introduced myself, to a stranger, as an artist, was Friday 25th May 2018. I was with another friend, and she hugged me super tight. I don’t think I cried, but I wanted to. I’d started healing.

“I really believe healing is just coming back to the you that you were before the world told you to be someone else.”
Catie Lynch

Do you remember what you wanted to be, before life got in the way? Perhaps you could try again. Sure, if you wanted to be an Olympic figure skater, then maybe you’ll never reach that particular goal, but surely putting your skates on again might help you to remember your joy. Stay safe. Do what you love. Heal.

Janet x

Janet Anderton is the illustrator of A Question of Time with Improbable Press. This post originally published on Janet's Ko-Fi, and included the work-in-progress art here.

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  • Lindy Cameron on

    I wanted to be an astronaut. Or a famous scientist. Or a writer. I became the latter – which means I can always writer about the former!

  • Ann on

    I get this! When I first fell into fandom, I thought I was losing my mind, having a midlife crisis, something. And then a (non-fandom) friend noted that I wasn’t doing anything at this point in my life that I hadn’t done before “life” — a job, husband, kids — got in the way. Enjoying watching talented artists — actors, musicians, writers, painters, whatever form their art takes — had always been part of my life. But I lost that part of me for close to 20 years while I raised my kids. And it was finding that part of me again that helped me keep my sanity when a lot of life was feeling a bit crushing. It was no midlife crisis in which I’d suddenly lost my way. It was a midlife epiphany in which I found myself again. Congratulations, Janet, on rediscovering your inner artist and letting her out to play!

  • The Honeyed Moon on

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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