In a culture where success and notoriety are celebrated as much as they are, it often saddens me to think of how many people are “living quietly” out of the paralyzing, debilitating fear that they’ll never “make it”.
How many closet dancers, hidden painters, wannabe business owners and secret writers are holding themselves back?
How many people yearn to create, yet ignore the calling, not being able to fathom a reality in which they are vulnerable enough to fail, vulnerable enough to create bad art, or vulnerable enough to be laughed at and made fun of?
And so there they are, living quietly, not fully expressing themselves. Stifled, silenced, small. Their greatness never given even a smidgen of a chance.
There are times when I feel this way, too. Even after years of being an artist, of passionately creating, of shamelessly putting myself out there, there are times when the fear and vulnerability of it all can get to be too much, and all I want to do is live quietly. Retreat. Hide. Hold back.
And then I see things like this – a homeless man who spends his time collecting trash, turning it into creative works of art, and then displaying it on a street wall for all to see. And why? I haven’t spoken to him about *why* he creates this art. All I know is he’s been doing it for years. He’s not getting paid, he’s not getting notoriety. But there he is, creating (I assume) for the sake of creating. Just because.
And so whenever I think of playing small, hiding, holding back, repressing … I’m suddenly reminded that there’s too much joy waiting for me on the other side. The actual act of creating, seeing something made out of nothing, being witness to the power of creativity. Whether I like what I’ve created, or I hate what I’ve created, it still feels like I participated in some sort of magic. Something out of nothing.
And I wish that THAT was celebrated. I wish that the pure act of creating was celebrated and revered more than the “success” or “notoriety” that the creation garnered. Let’s celebrate and revere creative energy itself.
How could we be so selfish and full of ourselves to avoid our “callings to create” in favor of the comfort and safety of staying small? The fear feels real. The fear of how something will be perceived, of how it will come across, of what people will think or say, of whether it will be “a success” or not. How could we ever take ourselves so seriously to allow the fear to win?
The whole point is to simply create out of the pure joy and love of creation, and to let the final product have a life of its own, separate from you, not reflective of you.
And so I’ve dedicated myself to a life of creativity, with the goal of showing up and creating, detached from the outcome as much as I possibly can be, celebrating the creation itself, instead of it’s “success”. Because creative energy is magic energy. And I’m all about that magic energy.
“I never promised the universe I would be a great writer, I just promised the universe that I would be a writer!” – Elizabeth Gilbert
(who greatly inspired this post with her book Big Magic)
21 thoughts on “Are you afraid you’ll never “make it”?”
THIS —> “Whether I like what I’ve created, or I hate what I’ve created, it still feels like I participated in some sort of magic. Something out of nothing.”
I am allllllll about that statement. It totally is magic. And sometimes, yes, after creating I feel a bit of a vulnerability hangover (thanks Brene Brown for the phrase) and have to recover a little but cannot let my fear stop me. Too many people do. Such a lovely reminder!
You know what’s funny, Rachel? I’ve heard SO MUCH about Brené Brown, listened to so many of her talks and videos, and *NEVER* read a single book of hers. I think it’s time! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this post and I thank you for your comment! <3
There are two parts to this post that had a tremendous impact on me.
The first is this magical idea that there are so many people with sparkling potential percolating below the surface–and the only real impediment is fear.
The second is that it’s possible to create a world where there is wonder in vulnerable creation. I am currently creating content and swallowing my perfectionism to post it as-is.
It’s so hard to put out content that I see as relatively terrible and instead to focus on the bravery of the act, the honesty, and creativity. I keep going because of inspiration that started right here on your blog. Keep going, Alex, you’ve got so many of us right here, loving everything you put out because of the strength and inspiration you bring to it.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I love how you said it – “focus on the bravery of the act, the honesty, and the creativity”. YES! I celebrate you for creating and putting it out there, despite the vulnerability of it all. Beautiful!
Creating is truly the most fulfilling act there ever was and ever will be. If only we can effortlessly disassociate money and having to make a livelihood, the world will probably be a lot more different hey?!
Yes, because more people would be able to follow their curiosities, passions and fascinations without the distractions of what society expects from them!
This is true. Presently I am a student and I am currently looking for a job for a little while that can sustain me. However, my dream is to become a professional speaker encouraging people to pursue passion and purpose.
Lately I want to start blogging and make youtube videos but I am always procrastinating and only time is going. This post is really true no longer I will be hold back my dreams.
It’s time to start blogging and making YouTube videos! If you’re looking for a sign, this is it ;). Plus – the journey itself is EXCITING! There are so many rewards on the way to success, especially if you can learn to CELEBRATE the act of creation, as discussed in this post!
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I relate to this post so much Alex! I recently had this same pep talk with myself because I found that quote in Big Magic to really shake me in my bones, but at the same time it allowed me to fully be a creative passionate being because that is exactly what I am, it doesn’t matter how it translates, but that I do what I LOVE because of the sheer joy, bliss and deep love. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
Kajal – Big Magic … amazing, right? I love that book and I’m so glad this post acted as a reminder for you! Sending you big hugs xoxo
Thanks so much for writing this! I have been feeling so down on myself for not being “successful” and I have been bogged down with trying to make my blog seem more professional. After reading this I scheduled in some time to work on my short story (which I’m writing just for me)! Love your energy and positivity – thanks bringing some light into the English rain! Love from the UK x
Deborah, you are so welcome. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I love that you’ve decided to take more time to your personal creative pursuits – and PLEASE read the book Big Magic, I highly recommend it to any and every creative and business owner!
As always..your posts are spot on, Alex! Loved reading this post and can’t wait to get my hands on Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite writers.
Judy, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! You will *love* Big Magic! I got it on audio and love listening to her read it! 🙂
Alex words cannot express how much this post hit home. I although I’ve never considered myself an artist but the fear of putting myself out there is definitely something I experience. It’s comforting to know that despite what you’ve achieved that facing your fears and getting past them is something that you still must face. Your post was beautifully written Alex and something a many should read <3
Stephanie, thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m *so glad* that this post hit home for you! I think it’s SO EXCITING that no matter where we are on our paths or journeys, there’s always so much more to do, to accomplish, to explore, to achieve. And the beauty in that realization is that the treasure and joys of it all are actually here with us right here, right now, in this moment, even with so much left to do, so much left “unachieved”, it’s exciting and beautiful. GAH! 🙂 Sending you a big hug xoxo
As always..your posts are spot on, Alex! Loved reading this post and can’t wait to get my hands on Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite writers
You have inspired me in so many ways, I cannot even begin to write them all down. I bought your actions years ago and improved my creative outlet vastly. Now as a blogger and podcaster, I often come to your website for inspiration and encouragement. You are such a positive innovator and I hope you know that all your hard work has certainly not been noticed.
I follow you on Snap and I love the videos you post as you work. Something as simple as opening your laptop and going into your blog sparks my creativity to go out there and create.
Keep doing you and what you love, you are inspiring others to make their dreams their reality.
You touched my heart with your comment, thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂
With love and respect,
Thank you for this post. I used to be fearless in my 20s, but now I double think everything I do. All I want to do is create. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, but I am too scared. Why? I don’t know. I suppose I fear the judgement, even though the other part of me knows that is foolish. You are very inspiring because you are REAL. You share your ups and downs and for this I am grateful (although I hope your lows pass quickly.) Perhaps I will make my first video this weekend. I already bought the desktop tripod for my iPhone. Baby steps, right?