Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.
What inspires you?
Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I don’t think I have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms. However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you, Jenn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.