The Curse of the Creative Mind

I put in my two weeks’ notice on Monday. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I felt it was time for me to move on. A new chapter was ready to be opened.

However, it’s hard to not feel like a failure in these moments, because I often feel like I should be able to work things out. I think of my failed attempts over the years and it becomes overwhelming. Even with photography and writing, for example. I had pictured myself much further along by now in my personal terms of success. And as I was reflecting on this the other day, and how there must be something wrong with me, I had a sudden thought.

What if every creative person had given up on their dreams when it looked like they were impossible?

We see the stories all the time, of what stars were doing before they were famous. Jon Bon Jovi, for example, briefly worked as a janitor and even sold newspapers for a while. What if he had never pursued music the way that he did? The world would have been robbed of one of the best songwriters out there.

Stephen King always wanted to be a writer, but he had to settle for selling stories to magazines and newspapers before he finally got a break with Carrie. That didn’t happen until he was 26. While this is still pretty young for someone to find their career take off, it happened because he pursued it extensively and put in the hard work to back it up.

Harrison Ford didn’t land his first major role until he was in his early thirties, after which he spent time as a carpenter. What if he had stayed in that line of work? The world would have a very different Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

But I especially thought of Robin Williams. He always pursued comedy and acting, but he had to take his share of small time nightclubs and live performances at bars before making his way into television, all while battling depression. What if he had let that defeat him early on? What if he had succumbed to his depressive thoughts earlier? It was tragic enough that he let go of his life when he did, but can you imagine if it had happened in his twenties? The immense joy that he brought to people would have been lost forever. He was gone far too soon as it stands, but he also fought for a long time.

Now, I’m certainly not trying to compare myself to someone like Stephen King or Robin Williams. But it gave me a little bit of hope to think that there is value in the people who give us the creative arts. Books, movies, theater, craftsmanship…it all ties to together to make this world a little more beautiful. We need all manner of jobs, but we need entertainment as well. It gave me a renewed sense of determination in pursuing my dreams and the things that bring me joy.

I believe that our creative outlets usually reflect our inner state of mind. When we are happy, sad, angry, pensive…it manifests itself in our work. (This also proves true in most jobs, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

So for a small moment, I just want to encourage my fellow creatives. It’s hard to fight through the failures and rejections. To stay positive when you just want to give up. To ignore to the negativity of those around you. But when you overcome these obstacles, you become stronger. Resilient. Unbreakable.

Stay strong, my friends. I know you can do this.

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