“You won’t always feel enthusiastic or passionate about your craft.”
That’s a little tidbit I don’t recall any of my art instructors informing me or any of my fellow art students. Neither can I recall ever reading about it in the countless articles of advice I’ve read for artists over the years. Yet it’s what I’ve come to learn. The truth is the artist’s path isn’t an easy one and some days you won’t feel passionate or enthusiastic about it.
I’ve noticed that some of the people I know personally have a rather romanticize idea about what I do. Just recently I was talking to a long time friend of mine who said to me “You’re lucky, you’re doing what you love to do.” I don’t know about the luck but I could tell he was under the impression assuming that I probably wake up ever morning beaming with joy that I get to draw everyday. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Overall, yes, I do experience a sense of satisfaction at the thought that I’m making a life doing what I enjoy doing but that satisfaction varies from day to day. Some days I’m happy and content especially when sales are steady and I’m not worried about getting my bills paid. Some days I don’t feel anything either way. Then some days I’m thoroughly frustrated and have to push through to get anything creative done. But then there are those days were I give serious thought to saying to hell with it all to go get me a desk job. These fluctuations in my passion for my craft have often left me feeling conflicted and baffled. With the plethora of self development information out there, I’ve always been under the impression that if you have the opportunity to spend your life doing something you love you will wake up every morning beaming with enthusiasm and ready to take on the world. Truth is, most of the time I’m on an emotional roller coaster with constant highs and lows. …and that’s okay. But nobody tells you that. You see, for the longest I’ve been under the impression that I’m doing something wrong because I’m not a walking ball of sunshine everyday. I get conflicted inside and wonder if I should be doing it at all. But one day I realized that the problem wasn’t that some days I lack enthusiasm and passion, the problem was that I thought it was problem. There’s nothing wrong with having bad days because trust me, you will have them. You will have days where you’re bored. You’ll have days where you can’t think of anything to create. There will be projects where you will be all excited about in the beginning only to have that excitement dissipate halfway through. And there will be days where you just end up vegged out on the couch with junk food and Netflix. And all of that is perfectly normal. A trick I’ve learned to get through these ups and downs is to make sure I set some non-negotiables at the foundation of my craft. These are key commitments that I keep above all else. For me there are three of them:
1. To do a little bit of something pertaining to my craft each day. That can be working on a drawing for 30 minutes, writing up a blog post or promoting my work, so long as I do something everyday. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other aspects of our lives and put your craft off until the next day. But I’ve seen how putting your craft off can easily become a habit. The only way to counter that is to develop the habit of working on your craft everyday.
2. To always finish at least 85% of my projects. Now if it’s a commission it must be completed but on personal projects sometimes they just don’t turn out or somewhere along the way I lose interest. Most of the time I push through it but every once in a while there are some piece I just can’t bring myself to complete. In this case I just let it go and move on to something I’m more interested in but only if I’ve been consistent in finishing at least nine of my previous projects.
3. No matter what, always do my best. I’ve learned that I can’t let my day to day feelings dictate how I approach my craft, so I need some guiding principles to get me through the ups and downs.
Being an artist isn’t some never ending purgatory but it’s not always glorious either. It just is what it is. Some days your creative energy just flows, your work turns out far better than you imagine and you make a few good sales. And then some days you find yourself on your living room floor throwing a temper tantrum, crying to the heavens wondering why you were cursed to be an artist. Okay, maybe that’s just me but no matter what, always do your best. 😊
Pretty much, it’s on it’s last leg…I guess. It’s only two years old but in the tech world that’s equivalent to being a dinosaur. Actually, the screen just keeps blacking out and although, with the help of a few Youtube videos, I’ve found some solutions but they only turned out to be temporary fixes. So I’ve succumbed to the reality that it’s time to get a new one. I suspect that these devices are designed to start malfunctioning around 2-3 years from reading through Youtube comments and noticing others were having the same issues around the same time with their phones. It feels a bit like a con that forces you to upgrade not because there’s some amazing function on the new phones that will ultimately improve your life but simply because the company and manufacturers need to keep making profit. Things are no longer built to last, they’re just built for consumption.
As someone who does most of her online activities on her phone, I thought being without it would be awkward at best, agonizing at worst. I’ve gotten so use to checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, eMail, ordering stuff through apps, and watching Netflix via my phone, I thought that not having mobile access would disrupt my daily existence. That clearly has not been the case. Actually my mind has been at ease. Although I can do all of those things on my laptop, which is more so a backup strategy for me, I’m really not too fond of sitting in from of my computer. So I’d rather do something else than crack open my laptop, unless it’s absolutely necessary, like right now. Instead, today, I did some reading, worked on some of my art, cleaned the bathroom, worked out, made chili from left over meat sauce and took a nap. It was a relaxing day with none of the anxiety that creeps in when your phone is “dry” or acting like a Pavlovian dog with all the constant blinking or buzzing from text messages, emails, “likes”, retweets and comments. Not that I don’t appreciate the engagement but I can’t help but notice how it’s conditioning me. It’s nice to just be with myself even if the “disconnection” was involuntary.
So I have a new phone on order and therefore waiting on its delivery. In the meantime it will probably be a few days before I do anymore posts, as I said before, I really don’t like sitting in front of this laptop. So until my phone gets here I’m going to just enjoy my “me time” with hopes that all of you lovelies are doing well.
…a little something I have come to realize.
We are victims of our own idealism, tragedies before our own perfectionism. Happiness is a choice that is dependent upon nothing other than us deciding to simply be happy. The sun doesn’t need to be shining in order for us to smile. A six figure career doesn’t need to be obtained in order for us to feel joy. A lover doesn’t need to be perfect in order for us to love. And everything doesn’t need to be right in the world in order for us to be kind. We place far too much of our happiness upon external things and circumstances, casting happiness off into some future existence that we hope to be rewarded with after we achieve some preconceived idea of success. Happiness isn’t an object to be obtained. Yet we have been so thoroughly trained to look towards external things in order to be happy that we live although it is something that we need to strive after, something that we need to chase, when all we have to do is stop and look within. When we see that it doesn’t take much to laugh, to smile, to love, to create or to feel joy, we will see that happiness is within us and that it is a choice that is within our grasp with each new day we awaken to, leading us to realize that life doesn’t need to be perfect in order to be happy.
I really wouldn’t mind going back to a time before the internet, social media and smartphones. When it was new, it all seemed amazing and great, ushering in an era of endless possibilities to communicate and share ideas, thoughts and experiences. And for many it has allowed us to do just that. But as the novelty has worn away and time presses on, I see the down side to this ever intrusive digital lifestyle; people are showing far more interest in being online then engaging with the people and environment around them. From the husband who eats his meal with Twitter open on his computer after work, to the friend constantly checking their Instagram notifications or the mother who “Facebooks” every moment of her newborn’s life. We have become obsessed with our digital presence rather than being completely present with our loved ones and friends. It has gotten to the point that we now have things like “internet addiction” and “FOMO”, where people start to feel anxious and fear that they might be missing out on something if they don’t have access to the internet. For many being online has become their life. Everything is for show. Likes and retweets or lack thereof boosts or damages self esteem. Self worth is measured by “social engagement” and “influence” and egos hang in the balance by web traffic.
It’s sad and disturbing.
I miss the days when people wrote letters to each other, where having a cup of coffee with a friend wasn’t interrupted by flashing lights of notifications from gadgets and setting suns were simple enjoyed instead of being a backdrop to another selfie.