A few months ago, I started to analyze what I need in my life to be happy. Stripping down myself to the most basics elements, I looked to what was essential for me to wake up every morning with a smile on my face. It started with sleep and decent meals. Working out came shortly after. Finally, I started to write daily. I felt great but the more things I incorporated in my daily life, I realized that one thing I long for most is creativity.
Brené Brown is a famous researcher, academic, and author of best sellers, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), Daring Greatly (2012), Rising Strong (2015) and more. Specifically, I saw a 99u speech (similar to Ted Talks) on Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count. In this, she spends time talking about the weight and struggle that comes from being a creative. She touches on everything from the dangers of reading the comment sections to the inner demons we fight before putting material out. I recommend this video to everyone to check out.
She also talks about the purpose of the creative struggle is not about the critics, winning, or even losing. It’s about showing up to the battle. We forget many people watch gladiators in the arena to see something that they know they could never do. We tune in to see heroes do impossible feats but more importantly, to imagine ourselves as them. Fandom comes from the connection to the art and the feeling it represents, not the art itself.
When we listen to a song or look at a painting, there is a deeply seeded emotion that we connect to. We look for artists that tell our story in the most simplistic ways. We watch heroes like Superman and marvel at him being the pinnacle of what we can become. We fall in love with movie characters and plays because they have characteristics we admire and traits we love. We root for sports teams off of which players we align with most. We want them to win because we link our support and them winning to us being winners. We all desire to be on the right side of history.
On a deeper level, as an artist, I was taught to always reach for the universal. Reach for the experience that everyone has. The undeniable commonality that people see and align with. But how do you know what that is? We don’t want people to hate us or tell us our experience is foolish, but what we never realize is that our vulnerability and willingness to be vulnerable is what makes us even more relatable. We all have fears. We all have heartbreak. We all experience the joy and the pain of life. What makes an artist great is her ability to convey those emotions well.
I used to write music for years. I started off writing songs that I knew people would like to hear on the radio and then hid the more emotional songs at the end of an EP. But, one day I decided to perform a song about my depression called, “Little Black Clouds”. I talked about my night terrors, inability to focus at school, my negative coping with chasing women, and my eventual victory over depression with my interaction with Christ. It was a resounding hit for crowds.
It helped that musically it was strong, but every show I almost cried. It was my thank you to God for me surviving and people who weren’t religious really resonated with the struggle I overcame. I was shocked. Yes, people liked my call and response songs, but people needed Little Black Clouds.
I received a similar reaction on here when I brought up my depression and its interaction with my blackness. My past pain has become a well for me to draw from when I needed inspiration and strength to give to others. The more amazing thing is that the more vulnerable and open I became, the more people started to truly tell me I was strong.
That’s when I realized that it’s not about the facade or even looking for a Godlike hero to save us. It’s about seeing one of your own let you know that what you are feeling is normal. The song you sing in the shower summarizes the hurt you felt in fifth grade. The painting on your wall in the emotion you feel when you think of home. The play you saw brings you back to a time or whisks you away to somewhere completely foreign. So, when you create, don’t focus on what you want to be said, focus on what you want to feel.
Any thoughts on the creative process? Any stories of your creativity? Any particular pieces of art you liked in the past that resonated extremely strongly? Leave in comments, questions, and stories in the comments below.
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