Success, Anxiety and the Creative “STRUGGLE”
If you haven’t been totally blinded by last week’s eclipse, as I’m sure our dear friend Tr*** has, welcome back to another thread by yours truly. By the looks of the title, you’ve probably already picked up on the fact this is going to be a serious conversation, but I promise it won’t bore you to death like a too-long-to-read Facebook status; nor will it be an “all talk, no action” rant about Bahamians needing to take mental health more seriously. So shall we?
Before school started this past Monday, over the weekend, my sibling sat me down and asked about my perspective of the twelfth grade and the things he should expect from the overall experience.
He kept stressing this detail of “making everyone proud” because people “expected the best from him.” While there is no doubt in my mind that he will kick ass his last year of high school, I also couldn’t help to wonder – What determines success? Who determines our success? Suppose our success looks nothing like the average? Are we still deemed “successful?”
With the pressure of being judged against everyday social media celebrities, it can sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders – like we’re not doing enough to fulfill our purpose in whatever capacity that may be, especially as creatives who battle with anxiety. Participating in a millennial-driven society, where we’ve created the demand and supply chain, the expectation to constantly produce and remain original exceeds the expectation to just exist. Oftentimes we forget that our very existence is what breeds originality, sparks momentum and incites change. Oftentimes we need a reminder to just breathe.
After working through the process myself, I thought it’d be helpful to compile a comprehensible list (in no particular order) of how creatives can overcome their anxiety bit by bit. Feel free to share with a friend if you have one battling a mental illness.
- Aspire to inspire with your work, but remember the first person who should feel inspired is you. – Sometimes we seek to create with the intention of relating to a certain audience or crowd, or because we just want to be a part of a particular popular conversation. But if we are not entirely moved, why create it? Our art must flow from the heart and if our own message does not inspire us, what’s the point? How are we adding to the mix? Even with that said,
- Don’t be afraid to repeat a point within the conversation. – It may feel like an echoing effect, but sometimes that’s a good thing. If your conscience is driving you to create a piece you feel like everybody has already said, do it. You are what sets you apart from anyone else’s statement. Nobody can deliver a message like you can, so get out of your head and just do it.
- We all have our moments. Feel it, learn from it, and move on. – Anxiety has a way of attacking the rational parts of our brains to make us feel like we’re inadequate for not constantly creating. It is within these moments that we remind ourselves it is important to self-care. Don’t beat yourself up for being a work in progress so as long as you are conducting that time of introspection into self healing, then allow yourself to feel the moment – every bit of it. Cry if you have to but learn from it and move on.
- Take your time. – The race is not for the swift but those who can endure. This point may sound the same as the last but there’s nothing wrong with echoing, right? Don’t rush your process to create. What may take you a few days to craft may take another artist a few hours and that is still okay! You live by your own standards; follow suit as you see fit.
- You can never meet the expectations of another. – So don’t even try. Whether you’re a creative high school student, college student or professional, there will always be a hierarchy that will try to coerce your ideals into aligning with theirs. Stand your ground. Set the expectations for yourself because after all, only you know how high you can jump. Don’t stress yourself out if your vision of success falls short of the system’s. We create to dismantle the system anyway.
- We define our own paths to success. – While many would like to define creativity as subjective, the journey to its success varies. It’s okay if you’re not the next Antonius Roberts, Eddie Minnis, Nicolette Bethel, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Ronnie Butler or Joseph Spence. You’re the next you and that position has the power to transform lives in unique ways only you know how to.
- Never belittle any form of progress you’ve made within your creative career. – One work or form of progress can inspire another, creating a spiral effect that can bring success to you in ways unimaginable. Remain open to redefining what success means and be proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far!
So when things get a little crowded up there and the little devil dances on your shoulder to make you feel like you’re not enough, you haven’t accomplished anything or you’re stuck, remember: success is determined by an ounce of happiness. How much does your joy weigh?
You’ve got this – do the damn thing!