Your Hard Work Isn’t Wasted
If you’re creative but feel like success has so far eluded you, it’s important not to forget or discount the things you’ve already done.
Even if they don’t feel like things that would impress anyone else, they’re part of what has made you what you are now. Everything you’ve done has contributed to your unique mixture of knowledge and skills.
None of your hard work is ever really wasted – unless you decide to disregard it.
Make a list of all the things you’ve achieved over the years, no matter how small they seem, and keep it at hand in case you ever feel ‘unqualified’ to make your art.
Regrets, I’ve Had a Few
For too long, I was caught up dwelling on past disappointments, and my creativity and general happiness suffered. It’s not healthy to wallow in these things, but sometimes it’s difficult to get past them.
Obviously we’re all hardwired to avoid pain and suffering, but ultimately it’s an inevitable part of life for everyone, even if outward appearances suggest otherwise.
For an artist of any kind, there is some small comfort in the fact that hardship can help further our understanding of other people’s situations and compassion for them.
Think of what problems people might be struggling with right now, who you could help with your art because you’ve been through something similar to them in the past.
We’re all Idiots, Sometimes
I have acted like an idiot so many times in the past that I’ve lost count. As a result I know I’ve upset and hurt people, usually because I didn’t understand the impact of what I was doing at the time.
I can’t change what I’ve done, but being aware of my own mistakes makes me a little more patient and less judgemental about other people who do seemingly idiotic things.
If there’s anyone you’re angry or upset with, compare what they’ve done to some of your own mistakes over the years. Maybe you can find it in your heart to forgive them, and yourself, and free up space for new ideas to flow into your life. If you can’t, channel that anger into something creative instead!
Also, as difficult as it is to go through, having suffered or struggled in life means our creative work itself is infused with more soul and depth.
This is obvious when you see/hear a great singer pour their heart out in a performance, compared to a highly marketed pop act with no depth who mimes to a backing track. Even someone who doesn’t have a technically great singing voice can be powerful because they know how to get raw emotion across.
That kind of hard-earned, heartfelt soulfulness is one of the big differences between great art and throwaway or forgettable art.
The other night my wife Melissa and I were watching a Storyville documentary on BBC Four called Cutie and the Boxer about a married Japanese couple who are both artists and scrape a living by in New York (see above picture).
The film really shows the hardships that they’d gone through in order to keep making their art and living the life they wanted. And yet they kept going and were still together. (It’s well worth a watch.)
The truth is, dedicating yourself to something, whether it’s art, or a business or an important cause, is not easy. It can be a rough ride. But at least you can be secure in the knowledge that you really tried to achieve something important.
Decide right now that you’re not going to give up on pursuing your creative dreams, because you don’t want to look back and regret that you didn’t at least try.
What do you think? Does art help you deal with past hardships?
Main image: JD Hancock (Creative Commons)