Creativity Takes Courage or, Days You Want to Break Things

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Okay, there’s gunna be some real talk today.

Many of us are plagued with not feeling good enough. Something, somewhere within us takes everything personally, attributes every failure to some intrinsic fault and downplays every success. And I’m sick of it.

Because it’s not just the thoughts-you know, I suck, I suck, I suck on repeat for hours-it’s the exhaustion. I will actually physically tire myself out waging war with my mental assaults. I am fully trained to go at it for days, weeks, months, years. It’s amazing how I can work at building self-esteem for months and then watch it plummet in a matter of seconds. But that’s certainly how it feels. I spend days breathing through small pockets of disappointment, thinking positive thoughts, telling myself it’s not only inaccurate, it’s unfair to blame myself for everything that doesn’t work out the way it should. Then one day something hits me square in the face, and I fall flat. The thoughts come storming in, taking over and all of my carefully designed defenses are actually laughable.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, ugh.

 

My life path, the reason I’m on this earth feels intertwined with endless possibilities to rip myself open. The poor artist. The poor creative-minded. We all deserve some sympathy. Because really, we are screwed.

At the essence of writing, as I’ve said before, is vulnerability. When writers write, they divulge a piece of their soul. And if you write, you know that’s no exaggeration. What lingered in the dark recesses of your heart is suddenly staring at you on the page. That’s a pretty scary thing. And then, on top of that, we share that writing with others. We say, here, here’s a part of my soul, would you take a look and give me some feedback? Some constructive criticism? That’s a pretty screwed up business, if you ask me. 

I’m also involved with theatre. If you have low self-esteem, it’s not the best passion to develop. Again, you make yourself vulnerable, you try your best to communicate something real and truthful, and someone literally gets to tell whether or not you’re done it well enough, if you’ve done it right. Or, if you’re too something or not something enough. Either way, something is either wrong or right, there or completely lacking. Which can certainly mess with one’s head.

Usually, I wouldn’t write about this in this manner. I would say, that thinking is too black or white. It’s not rational. It doesn’t take into account the director’s vision and all the nuances of the creative process. You don’t know what happens behind the scenes. You need to separate self-worth from this messy, complicated mess of an art form.

Today, I say screw it.

There are a couple things I’ve learned about mental health: Yes, some days you need to think positively, to stop yourself from running down a self-hate path to nowhere. But other days, you have to feel. You have to acknowledge: that disappointed me. This made me feel like crap. This made me feel like I suck. We are human beings, and we feel. We are artists, and we feel. To deny feeling denies our responsibility.

Striking a balance is key here, and it’s not something I’ve completely figured out, if I’m being honest. How do we keep our sanity, our self-esteem, our sense of worthiness and at the same time, live every day in this world, this powder keg of emotions? How do we not end up like Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, the creative people who just couldn’t cope? Can we?

For now, my answer is: keep creating and keep breathing. Creativity takes courage, and that’s something pretty under-recognized in our society. So be brave. Some days, move on. Other days, throw things. All the time, breathe. All the time, keep going. Keep creating.

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