I have another question for you today: How hard are you trying to earn your identity as a creator/creative/artist?
Because once we decide for ourselves that we start creating work that is generous, courageous, and intended to connect with others, most of us run straight into self doubt. We then burden ourselves with expectations, and create an unreachable standard and never-ending mountain of work so we can compensate for our fear of failure.
The counter to this is simple, almost too simple that it’s awkward: start with accepting who you are, where you are right now, and act accordingly.
Or as Brené Brown would say:
“We either walk into the stories of our lives and own it or we stand outside and hustle for our worthiness.”
What all this twisting and wrenching of ourselves boils down to is our worthiness. Am I worthy of being an artist? When I take stock of who I am, do I deserve to do what I feel called to do?
Yes, 100% yes. Not because of what you’ve done or will succeed to do, but because who you are and where you are right now is exactly where you need to be. If you start there, the work you do will be supported by a foundation of peace and acceptance that will probably make the work better.
When I started Upstream, each week I routinely wrote these really serious stuffy 1500-word essays. Part of that was the excitement of me owning my story as a writer but most of it was me going, “Look at how hard I worked on this! Does that make me worth saying I’m a writer?”
Years later my posts are shorter, more casual, and probably cringeworthy to Minnow who started this in 2019. What’s changed? I think it’s that awkward self work of owning who I am and where I am that’s been the most helpful.
That self work has led me to think of my dad and his 70-hour dry cleaning career. He’d say he worked that hard so that I can become a businessman with an MBA, but what I’m doing now is completely different from all his expectations. I am my father’s son, and I’ve had to face the fact I am different from him in fundamental ways, and that’s ok.
It really is ok.
Follow Along Upstream
And feel a little less alone on your quest to your most courageous work.