why create? (a quick guide for when you’re feeling down)

why create?

why shout into the dark when it seems like the dark is just an endless void?

what is the point?

an issue addressed millions of times yet it keeps popping up like that pesky green in the sidewalk cracks

Let’s start with a quote:

“I want to create the things that I love to consume.”

-Megan Tan, Millennial Podcast

Put like that, the answer seems obvious. We create out of a selfish need. A need to get something out of us that would otherwise eat away at our insides. Something that would sit rotting if unexposed to light, only to come out in ugly ways to those closest to us. This is what we fight with the act of creation. By shoving, pouring, willing something out of us, we purify. We exercise impulses, that, if unattended, turn into poison. Like empty calories collecting in a stagnant body, action is the only way out.

So now that we understand: why create? what is the point? The question turns to:

how do we become satisfied with just that? how do we feel that that’s enough?

When we start envying others, we sully the honest work in which we’ve invested our time. We become bitter, tears of joy turn salty. Self pity starts dripping in and then flooding the beauty we’ve just spent hours carving out of ourselves. It’s resentment that presents itself stealthily, a pernicious character out on the prowl and looking for a victim. And in this case, the victim is ourselves. Now, instead of just worrying about that thing that we do with ourselves, that important piece of creation we must unearth, polish off and send downstream, now, our attention is divided. Now, we consider these deadly questions:

but whose reading this?

how do I get more followers?

how do I get people to care?

The answer is: you don’t. Sure, we can do the things to get our content in the hands and before the eyes of those who would get something out of it. We try the SEO tactics, we post on social media, we slowly build our email lists, we try to do this all in an un-annoying, authentic-as-possible fashion. But once we’ve checked those boxes, it’s time to pack up our bags and call it day. Because I believe it goes back to that other pesky truth. The law that governs dating as much as it governs job searches:

when you stop looking, when you stop trying, it finds you.

Isn’t it always the case that when you’re single, and dying for a boyfriend (/girlfriend) or even for a lousy one night stand, there are no men (or women) for miles around, but then, of course, when you are finally content and firmly rooted in your strong, carefree singledom, resolute on your work and your values —BAM, that’s when it happens. You meet someone when you least expect it.

While I’m well aware that finding your audience in this extremely saturated digital environment may be a little trickier than love, I’m also not sure that it is so different. After we do all we can to find our people, we stop focusing on it. We stay consistent, we try to stay on our toes, and then we need to let it go. We need to get back to why we are creating in the first place.

We are creating because it feels good. We are creating because it brings us closer to the truths in our own life. We create because maybe, just maybe, some day, someone will write you a comment that thanks you for putting your tender, mushy heart out on your sleeve. And then we bask in the glow and try to be okay with just that. We try to forget the people we admire who have 10.1k in adoring followers on Instagram. We try to ignore our favorite marketing gurus who make it seem so simple to “live the life you love.” We try to be bigger than we feel and don’t let envy give us her unbecoming makeover. We shake it off by simply telling ourselves to shake it off, and we keep on doing the things that make us feel good.

That’s the only way to answer our questions. When we run out of complaints and tire of self-pitying thoughts, we turn inwards and find a little glimmer of something that we can unspool into something grander. Something that, once unwound fully, lets us stop spinning in place and transforms us into better people (however marginally) in the process.

Top left image taken from: Purple Magazine Spring 15 “Masculin Féminin” | by Anders Edström and Naomi Itkes

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