Unless you value yourself, unless you believe in what you do and feel good about doing it, no one is going to believe in you. Don’t defend, take no offense, be proud and be happy and rest on that sunny cloud of yours. The world needs happy, loving, powerful and intelligent people.
It took me many years to value artistic expression. Inspiration filled me naturally and constantly and I was always creating, with a sense of walking on a side street with eyes following the cracks in the road. In fact I adored the cracks in the road and took hundreds of photographs of the wrinkles in the tarmac.
The concept of being an artist used to be on a pedestal high up above; on a level I couldn’t place myself. Since I was a little kid, making art made me feel as if I was doing the wrong thing, whether I was singing, writing or painting. With no professional full-time artists, musicians or writers in the family, it was difficult to grasp the possibility of being an artist, period. My bloodline is full of incredible creatives, but not one of them realized their dream.
An old bitter man once asked me what was so special about me that entitled me to be an artist, as if it was something I had to defend, and his question stayed with me for a long time – I could not find an answer. Who did I think I was? Tonight I invite that man to come and sit down at the table next to me. No, I commend him, because he is nothing but a voice in my head. He sits down on the chair with a loud thump and looks at me indifferently.
‘I brought you here tonight to tell you that I am a diamond. It is a new type of diamond that no one has ever seen before and the experts do not know how to set the value. The biggest problem is that the diamond is growing day by day and it has now become too big to polish. It is rough and hard and lives to uncontrollably disperse light. My good friend is advising me to stop growing so that the experts can get a chance to define my value, but each day comes with the temptation of new growth.’
The old man looks at me with tired eyes and asks me ‘Why did you bring me all the way here to deliver this stream of complete nonsense to my face?’
‘Because you are shrinking each day and soon there will be nothing left of you. I wanted to give you my answer before it was too late.’
Blocked by the idea that I was unworthy of being an artist I took many long breaks away from it, during which I felt as if I didn’t fully exist. Life more or less passed me by, leaving me more dead each day, sleepwalking through daily life with a sad look on my face.
I am now starting to see how lucky I am to be me and I realize that being an artist and a writer is my task in life. Where did all the tension come from? What is the big deal about being a professional artist and a writer? The world is full of them! The big deal is to value your own voice and be comfortable in expressing yourself; yourself, with no safe line to hold on to. Not all artists are unique and authentic in their expression, but when the spirit flows through you, you are completely naked and vulnerable, and that requires courage and persistence.
All shame and guilt that I associated with artistry, accentuated by every single person I came across with a dead artist within, is fading away. As I am leaving negativity behind, I meet less negative people. It is the law of attraction. The immense joy in creating with self-confidence inspires others to find their unique expression, and above all, creating with joy brings me closer to my spirit. That flow was never anything else but my spirit talking through me and who am I without my spirit? A very dissatisfied and difficult person. My life is now filling up with artistic and spiritual opportunities, support and appreciation - finally, after spending years doing horrible soul-defeating jobs. I came out on the other side because I knew that I was yet to learn my homework. It is easy to blame ones circumstances on other people and sheer bad luck, but to swallow the pride and see that the power is hiding inside and that it is your challenge to bring it to the surface is infinitely more rewarding.
”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” ~Steven Pressfield