I didn't let my creative muscles atrophy completely while I was gone: I'm part of two regular tabletop RPG groups with friends, and have an online role-playing community I'm part of, as well. Those groups of friends helped remind me how important my imagination is, and how much of a help it can be in times of stress, even when I didn't think I had the energy to work on Adjustments. But here's the twist.
I did have the energy. I was bullshitting myself, because I was afraid. I keep holding myself back, because about half of my time on this planet was spent absorbing a lot of really toxic messages. The kind of stuff that you hear at the back of your mind, and aren't always conscious of, even as it roots in your brain and burrows down. So I meditated last night, and the recording I used asked me a question: What did I get out of not thriving?
My answer came out of that unconscious hiding place where it was buried, and it was calm, and direct. It said, "I get to say that people I considered figures of authority when I was younger were right." About what? Things like this:
- "What you do? This sitting in the corner of the classroom, drawing and scribbling? It's not normal. Only normal people get accepted. Only normal people are valid."
- "No one takes this thing or genre you're interested in creating seriously. It's for nerds. It's for geeks. It's for children. Only Thing X sells."
- "You have to sell to be successful."
- "You have to sell A Lot to be successful. It's not worth the effort."
- "Working hard at a nine-to-five job with benefits and coming home to complain about it is the only acceptable way to make a living."
- "Being part of The Real World means letting go of your dreams. Admitting that you can't have what you want, because no one gets what they want. Everyone will disappoint you, you are on your own, and tough shit. Deal with it."
- "Giving up is the only choice that makes a creative person a valued member of society. Creative success is for special people. If you're special, you can't be like us. If you're not like us, we can never validate, accept, love, or acknowledge you. Creativity will only make you miserable."
I said when I started this blog, five years ago, that it wasn't about success. It was about the stories. So why, then, was my brain still trying to tell me it was? Why was all this crap still there?
I don't even need a reason. I'm going to get rid of it, starting today. I'm not allowing myself any more excuses, or distractions, or letting anything else reinforce any of those gross little piece-of-crap mantras. And step one was deleting my professional Facebook page today. Why? Because Facebook is built on metrics, algorithms, and advertising. It exists to make money. And the more I see a lack of engagement there, the more it feeds those little crap mantras. "No one cares. You're not worth it". Nope. Not anymore. Bye-bye, Facebook.
I'm diving back into Twitter and Instagram, and all my posts going forward will be on this blog. Yes, I'm aware Instagram is also about algorithms and such, but ... I have a nice creative network there, same as I do on Twitter, and if the last few months have taught me anything, it's that the people who have faith in you and want to uplift you are the most important people in the world, regardless of how long you've known them, or how they're connected to you. In the garden of my life, I should be tending to the things that support me, not the ones that choke my roots and prevent me from growing. So. In the words of the immortal and fabulous Anthony J. Crowley, but with a much kinder inflection, I have a message for all of us, myself included: