Embracing What I Am

I’ve been listening to a lot of lectures and podcasts lately that center around personality types and psychological motivation. These got me doing some online personality tests then I did a Creative achievement test and a few others (just to be thorough and because I was bored). I learned a bit about myself and have zeroed in on one of the central causes of my unhappiness

I’ve been almost actively fighting against who I am.  I am a creative person, a creator.  I need to make art and create things to feel fulfilled. I think I always knew this but these tests are proof (well as much as online tests can prove anything) that this is the case.  There is no way I can live a full life unless I spend time creating.

That is where the central conflict of my life lies though. I can’t monetize my creativity so I am forced to spend time working jobs that are not creative to earn a living.  Sure, I managed to get a job that requires some creative input (marketing) but it is not the kind of creativity I want to do.  Obviously, the fulfilling creativity lies in pursuing my own projects.

On my creative achievement test I scored 18 which may not sound high but is only about 9% of the population.  A lot of that is due to my writing but it made me realize that I’m creative in a lot of other areas of my life. It made me realize how this personality trait has shaped my worldview and what I do.  Yet I’ve been working against this trait because of how painful it is.

Quick explanation here.

Being creative means a few things for me that I must accept.

  • Monetizing my creativity (making a living off my art) is next to impossible. That means I will always have to manage being creative while also earning a living
  • I need to get comfortable with failure. See point 1. Having things rejected and being unable to find an audience for my work is going to be a constant.  I already knew this (I’ve been rejected and I have yet to find an audience) but I need to realize that it’s just part of creative life.  The key word here is ‘comfortable’, I need to get better at accepting failure, because it will only keep happening.
  • It’s a painful life. I can speak from experience here. If you want the ‘normal’ life of a house and a car being a creative is not great. This comes back to point 1, it also comes back to the fact that a ‘normal’ life would not be fulfilling because it would not be interesting.  The problem here is that we are fed this dream life like it’s something we must achieve. Society runs on people chasing that dream of owning a house and two cars.  I had to spend a lot of time un-training myself from this goal that I realized was not even my own.  It was just something I was going along with because I felt that was what you were supposed to do.  If I wanted that dream life I would have to sacrifice my creative projects.
  • There is no such thing as downtime. Unless you end up as one of the lucky few who can earn a living from their creativity.  Otherwise, because I have to spend my days earning a living, that means my lunch breaks, weekends and evenings are spent working on my projects.  Now this is not really a bad thing because I enjoy creating but there are times that I just want to sit on the couch and watch television.  There are times where I want to shut down, and unfortunately if I choose to shut down that means I’m getting less available creativity time.  I have to trade my time wisely.
  • Nothing I make ever feels good enough. This one might be just me but I feel that all my work is terrible.  Even if I’ve been told it’s good I still feel like I’m being lied to.  This is kind of part of point 3 because it’s painful to think that everything you’re doing is bad.  The way I get over this is to put stuff out there regardless.  I force myself to get my work out in the public, it helps me work around this feeling of never being good enough.  It’s always there, but at least I’m getting stuff out there.

Unfortunately, there is no denying what I am.  I’ve been embracing my creative side more and more instead of pushing it away.  Sure I was working on stuff before but I struggled because I was torn between living a normal life and living the life that I actually wanted.  I’ve accepted that being creative means I’ll probably never have that “American Dream” kind of life, and that’s okay.  It’s just who I am.

I’ve been working on accepting failure better, dealing with the lack of down time and moving through the pain.  I’ve accepted that my job is not my life, it’s just something to pay the bills while I work on creating.  My job is also a nice way to pay for the cost of nice gear and fun distractions.

It’s taken a few years to get back here, but I finally feel free in who I am.  I’ve finally accepted who I am and finally started living the life that represents who I am as best I can within the confines of reality.  I will have to make sacrifice for my art, but what artist doesn’t.  I’ve already sacrificed for my art, might as well accept that it’s necessary.

I say “get back here” because when I was a teen and young University student I was much more accepting of my creativity.  I was also much more unaware of the real world and how difficult it is to be creative while also paying the bills and coming home exhausted.  After I graduated and was working for a bit I ‘gave up’ on being creative to pursue the dream that was forced on me by society.  That dream that was not really my own.

It took a while to get here again, a lot of pain and self-reflection.  Now that I’m here I have to say that it feels good to finally know where I stand and what I have to do.  There is a lot more work I need to do (especially when it comes to accepting that I’ll probably never make a living from my creativity), but I think I’m at a good starting point.

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