It's Monday morning and I'm having an existential crisis.
Ok, it's not an existential crisis per se, it's more like an overwhelming feeling of anxiety about channelling creativity, my career goals and being 'successful' (still just as heavy, I'd say.) As a person whose thoughts tend to spiral out of control on a daily basis, I wasn't really surprised by the chain of events that led up to this silly sense of panic. I'll briefly explain.
I managed to recently acquire an old Mac PC - this PC wasn't being used and I was allowed to freely take ownership of it, for which I'm very grateful. I was planning on using this computer to edit my videos and do all of my blogging; my own laptop is falling apart and the family computer is a source of hot debate (the 'rents insist that I clog it up with way too many files and of course everyone wants to use it at the same bloody time.) The new-old Mac has been sitting on my desk regally, its sleek grey visage out of place in my childish looking bedroom. I have been in the process of transferring all of my files from my laptop and the family computer to the Mac and today decided that I would try and edit a video on it for the first time. It transpires that the Mac is too old to run even the iMovie app, let alone my Sony Vegas software, which would be rejected either way because it is only compatible with Microsoft.
So I'm kind of back to square one. Square one, by the way, is me debating whether or not to get a new laptop / computer and then delaying my decision to do so because I don't have enough money.
The point of my ramble is this: trying to make it in the world as a creative is a bloody difficult thing to do, I don't know what my next move is and also I feel like time is against me, which I KNOW is a stupid and unhelpful thing to think but I believe these feelings stem from seeing other people becoming 'successful' at such young ages and additionally the impending doom of the world coming to an end and potentially killing all of my hopes and dreams before I've even begun. ^ I don't know if you noticed but that was one sentence and I held my breath whilst writing it.
Like everyone else, I want to 'make it'. I want to be 'successful'. But what does 'successful' actually mean? For me, it's not necessarily about money or power. I'd like to have an impact and I'm absolutely set on concentrating on doing things I love, because these things bring me the most joy and if I can live life enthusiastically and busy myself with things that I'm enjoying then I can't really ask for much more. But it's easier said than done, of course. I think our individualistic and capitalist society presents a false image of us having the opportunity to do absolutely anything and to have freedom. We are free to make choices, to go anywhere, to be anyone. But this is a sugar-coated white lie. Not everybody has opportunities. Not everybody has the means to get where they want to be. A lot of the time, it's about sheer luck and knowing the right people.
This morning I wasn't really upset by the fact that the Mac's software was old. I was actually upset because I realised how difficult it is to chase a dream. It's not that I was naive up until now, but I think coming face-to-face with stumbling blocks actually makes you feel how much of a winding road it is. I said in a previous blog post that it isn't enough to be passionate about something - you still have to work super-duper hard. I've got the will and the drive but there are setbacks, such as having to earn money to live whilst you are channelling your creativity, or realising there are so many people in competition with you, or being in the right place at the right time. As well as these setbacks, there are also personal setbacks. If you're like me and you're a rigid perfectionist and self-critic then it will be ten times harder. If I'm honest, the personal setbacks are, I think, even harder to deal with than the more general ones. Because you're having to look inwards rather than outwards, and changing yourself doesn't just happen overnight. You're having to motivate yourself, which is SO difficult (why is it that you listen to and trust other people more easily than yourself?!) You have to remind yourself that you're good at what you do. I think a helpful thing to do is to get constructive criticism and feedback from other people as often as you can. Don't let what they say dictate everything you do, but use it as a driving force to carry on.
I recently found this quote on Instagram (I'm not sure who wrote it) but I love it and I need to look at it constantly.
"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through." When I read this I thought 'wow, this is so damn accurate.' It's so true that despite the wealth of ideas and inspiration you have, you're constantly disappointed in yourself - you want it to be what you imagined straightaway. We have to remind ourselves that this isn't realistic. Someone said something to me the other day (I can't remember who or where, but shoutout to you!) and it also really helped me to feel more positive: some people 'blow up'. In fact, so many people seem to be blowing up these days, and I guess that's mostly to do with social media. A lot of the time, these people tend to fade away just as quickly as they appeared. To build up years of experience and to experience setbacks is going to be much more beneficial and will give you firmer foundations for the magic that can happen, the product of all your hard work. I'm also reminding myself that if you fail, you fail. Not everything works out the way you want it to. But it's not the end of the world because now you have all of that experience and growth, which is character-building. And (unless you're bitter) you're still going to always enjoy doing what you love. I know it sounds so cliched but everyone has their own journey, and even if you don't make a living from doing what you love then just keep doing it as it will keep you sane in this crazy world. Having something that is personal to you is so important.
So after spilling out all of these thoughts onto this blog post I feel a lot better, and I just want to encourage you to keep fighting.