I want to sugarcoat this for you. I do. But I can’t.
A side-effect of being hypersocial and outgoing is that you make a lot of friends. A side-effect of having a lot of friends is watching a lot of people go through a lot of negative stuff.
It’s painful to watch. But do you know what makes it more painful? When you know that half the people who are suffering are responsible for it.
Because people are in love with their own suffering.
I’ve noticed this more with creative types, but that may also be because I associate with a lot of creative types. Maybe because they’re my kind of crazy, maybe because there’s an actual correlation between crazy and creative (Kay Redfield Jamison is a better person to ask about that).
But bottom line, I see a lot of you hurting yourselves over and over again. I do it, too. You’re not alone. You’re never alone. That’s the first lesson here. No matter how much you think you’re fucked, someone else is identically fucked. Hell, there are probably 10,000 people who are identically fucked and another 100,000 who were identically fucked but got over it.
We tell ourselves that we can’t a lot. We spend all this energy trying to learn what our passion is – what we really want to do with our lives – and then we spend ten times more energy convincing ourselves that we’re terrible at doing it, and that we’ll never be good enough at it to actually do it justice, and so we stop doing it. Or we continue to do it, but we half-ass it.
That’s what I did with my YouTube channel and my blog for a while. I realized how hard it is to be a blogger and a YouTuber. I bitched about my full-time job and how it sapped away all my energy and my time. Then I came home and worried myself sick that I was never going to be a good enough creator to make it out of that cycle. So I passively hunted for jobs that could pay my bills and keep me afloat while I waited for the indefinite amount of time to pass before I became a successful creator.
Except that then my actual content suffered. I couldn’t do it full-time. I couldn’t live off of it – not now, not for years to come – so it suddenly sucked to create. It became a chore. I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I stopped actually paying attention to the joyful parts. I slapped a couple things together. And then I spent the rest of my time watching other peoples’ content and trying to be friendly enough that they would want to watch mine, too.
And you know what? My content was shit. Hell, it’s still kind of shit because I didn’t focus on creating for so long. I didn’t learn how to create. I didn’t hone my skills. I didn’t make anything beautiful like I wanted to. Sure, a couple videos turned out incredible, and I’m proud of them, but I wasn’t doing it justice. I wasn’t doing me justice.
And that’s the second lesson here. You have to do yourself justice. Nobody else can be you. Only you can be you. The world deserves you. Be you. And do well at being you.
If you want to be a creator, create. Create beautiful things. Ask yourself if what you’re putting out is truly beautiful (or useful or sentimental or whatever other category you want your content to fit into to make it worth keeping around). Content is like physical stuff. Content can clutter your blog. Content can clutter your channel. Content can clutter your mind. If it’s not worth keeping around, either throw it out or force it to serve a purpose.
That’s why I deleted half my blog posts a couple months ago. That’s why I’ve deleted a lot of videos. Because they were clutter. They didn’t further me along my path to better content. They weren’t an example of good practice. They certainly weren’t worth giving attention to. They were just boxes that I had checked because I had to put something up and they struck my fancy at the moment.
Your content can’t be whimsical. What you do can’t be whimsical. You don’t become successful on a whim. You become successful by putting in 10,000 hours of blood, sweat, and tears and getting insanely lucky.
So if you want to be a creator, create. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a YouTuber, make a video. If you want to be a graphic designer, make a t-shirt.
If you want to get fit, exercise. Just do the thing. Whatever the thing is. Whatever you’re passionate about that you want to do for real every moment of every day for the rest of your life.
And get out of your own way. Stop wasting time telling yourself why you’re not good enough for it. Stop ticking the boxes. Do real stuff.
If you want to find love, get the hell off Grindr or Tinder or whatever it is. Stop telling yourself that you would get a boyfriend if only you fixed your weight or your teeth or your habits. Go talk to someone. Find a guy you think is cute and talk to him. Tell him he’s cute. If he’s not down for you, well, that sucks, time to go find another one and try again.
If you want to be a photographer, take pictures. Constantly. Of everything. Not snapshots. Not selfies. From an angle. Tell a story.
If your video doesn’t go viral, that’s okay. Make another one. But make it better. Make it relevant. Make it timely. Make it powerful and emotional.
If your t-shirt doesn’t sell, try again, but work on actually filling a need. Make shit people want to wear.
If your remix doesn’t get air-time,
throw cake into the audience try a better drop.
And for fuck’s sake keep going. Don’t give up. Don’t find a different goal. Don’t tread water. I know that one of the magical benefits of being an adult is that you can tread water indefinitely if you want to. But you have options. You have dreams. Pursue them. Right now.