“Do you like where you’ve been and where you’re going to?
Stagnation as an artist is a slow death. You never really stop abruptly…it just kind of picks away at you until your creative soul is a hollow shell. Here’s how I fixed that problem…I’m one of those weird people that find messages in the tiniest fragments of life. Even if they have nothing to do with each other.
So, in this particular moment, it was a usual day of driving to the dull ‘ol office, coping with Lana Del Rey, when something she said struck me. I had her last two albums on shuffle, letting the mid tempo melancholy mood be the background music to my thoughts…and one line of lyrics drew itself right through my solo conversation:
“Do you like where you’ve been and where you’re going to?”
I THINK THE SHIP IS SINKING
And me being the loner that I am, of course I responded. It was jumbled mess like, “Well I liked certain moments of my past, like doing whatever I wanted, living creatively, cruising the Hollywood streets at 2am on my roller blades, living in the studio, collaborating all night with people I had just met…and life kind of sucks now…hope this isn’t where I continue to go and be!
Then I thought of the line again…”Do you like where you’ve been and where you’re going to?” The answer was NO. I hate living the hamster wheel life. It completely and relentlessly kills off who I was created to be. It demeans and goes against the fiber of my being, which is art. I am an artist. Why am I torturing myself?
You see that? You hear that!?! That is the panic that each of us goes through. When you hit a wall and actually acknowledge to yourself that something is significantly wrong?
That’s the first step!
Now some of you will stop here and say something like “woe is me! I’m a tortured soul…and this is life.” You know how I know that? It’s because I did that for years, honey. I probably have a few hundred in wine receipts from this mental conversation that ended with a pity party.
PLUGGING UP THE HOLES IN THE SHIP
After I realized I had been having a panic attack in the parking lot at work for 15 minutes and was now late to work, my fight or flight kicked in. I ran into the office, did my prep, and savagely searched for self help books in the library. I checked out everything from Susan Cain to Gay Hendricks and Malcolm Gladwell to make sure I had my bases covered.
I wanted to know WHY I would cower after the pity party instead of embracing this new “route” in the desert. Why do I give up? Why am I still here? What is wrong with me? Again with the negative vibes…we can be a bit melancholy sometimes.
One of the first things I learned was that I had an inner strength. Reading Quiet by Susan Cain really gave me an interesting perspective on being an extrovert. We have a silent strength that develops when we learn to communicate and understand our thoughts. Just because an emotion is triggered in your brain doesn’t mean you understand the intention behind it. Intention is key here, guys.
Side Note: When I worked in insurance they constantly asked us “WHAT’S YOUR WHY!?” It was an obnoxious strategy they used to link your goals in life to your need of making money in insurance. A lot of MLM companies use this phrase. I would say I was doing it for “financial freedom” but that wasn’t entirely true. I wanted more time and money so I could focus on doing art. But you can create art almost anywhere at anytime. 😉
Having that mental conversation and being honest with myself about the life I was living was the first step. So often we try to drown out those thoughts so we don’t get overwhelmed by the staleness of our lives. Be HONEST with yourself! Do you really, really hate your job? Is your significant other a jerk? Is your bff a backstabbing life-sucker!?
Admit to the questions swirling around in your brain. You can’t heal a wound you’re scared to inspect.
Which brings me to step 2: Inspect the situation.
Why do I feel this way? I don’t understand…let me grab a book, listen to a podcast, meditate, pray, wherever you go to find truth. I went to the library and found a plethora of reasons why life isn’t working for me.
What’s working for you? What isn’t? Let’s get ourselves together!
ROWING TO SHORE
“I would love to wake up around noon. Make a light breakfast and vlog. Maybe edit overlooking my living plants on the balcony (I killed all my succulents because I’m always at work and forgot to water them…OOPS!) Write a full blog post before getting ready to attend a friend’s single release. Have high paying clients and a condo. Travel the world and paint in the vineyards.”
This in some form sounds like you doesn’t it? You dream of this creative life, but you cling to a creative death. Hoping one day your life will be different.
I’m not saying to outright quit your job, but if you’re daydreaming like this, you need to acknowledge you’re missing some sort of creative outlet in your life. In essence you’re missing part of YOU. Since you are the steward of your own life, YOU have to take the reigns in making sure that creative lifeblood is being pumped back into you.
In my desperation I ran to the local community college and signed up for dance class. Just one! Once a week…something I could easily squeeze into my schedule without feeling overwhelmed. And you know what…I started coming back to life little by little.
Next, I fled to the library and checked out books to those that have great success. On that journey I learned about the ULP.
What’s that, you ask? In The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks he talks about ULP or the “Upper Limit Problem.” This is the wall that we hit that keeps us from achieving success in different areas of our life. On my mental “eval” of figuring out why life sucked at the moment, I realized why I gave up dancing.
I was on tour 5 years ago and fell off the stage…4 feet to the ground…on top of my ankle…in 5 inch boots. OUCH. I was in a brace for so long, I just gave up on dancing altogether and told people I had retired…in my 20’s.
Music would come on and I’d find myself bobbin’ and creating choreo in my head, but when people would ask…”I’m retired.” I didn’t think I would ever be good enough again, so I just gave up. This is what us creative introverts do! We don’t fight, we just flee. Sometimes we take on jobs, or responsibilities that don’t feed our souls because we don’t feel we’re good enough.
But you know what…it’s not about being good enough, it’s about living FULL enough. How full and satisfied are you with your life? “Do you like where you’ve been and where you’re going to?” And if the answer is “well…not exactly, but the bills are paid” then it’s a NO. Be honest with yourself. Pour the glass of wine and have a self chat. Am I implementing enough art into my life so that I can thrive and feel fulfilled?
As part of my journey, one of the first books I grabbed was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and she is the QUEEN of fearful introverts who decided to win at life. It was one of my favorite books to read because it was more of a mini autobiography of her journey, instead of just self help tips.
Now, keep in mind you don’t have to drop all of your responsibilities and run away with the circus, just start somewhere. A dance class, knitting group, guitar hero, VSCO, whatever!
In no way, shape, or form am I trying to offend anyone with a 9-5 or who has worked the same job for 10 years. We are just two completely different people. Some people are made with the mental endurance for that, some are not.
But whatever you do, don’t give it up. If you decide to change artforms then fine, but keep it consistent. When you start, it will be a creative outlet; but you eventually want it to be a creative lifestyle. You are an artist…and you have life, so why not aim to mold your life around that.
Some of us crazy introverts have ideas SO BIG that we can’t even fathom them coming to fruition. We are so scared sometimes that we don’t even jot them down on paper! Can you believe that? It’s a piece of paper…commit!
So light a fire under that booty and let’s paint the town red! Time is ticking and happiness doesn’t just show up at your doorstep; you have to find it and hold onto it…dedicate yourself to it and till death do you part…or into eternity depending on your beliefs. Either way happiness and fulfillment as an artist is a lifestyle. If you commit yourself to it, it will open doors for you.
So what is holding you back now? “Do you like where you’ve been and where you’re going to?”
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