I often hear the familiar cadence that rings to the tune of dissatisfaction bumbling across the streets, in the corners of coffee shops, in the airport lounge and across the internet.
It's that relatable unhappiness, that sadness, that tension that is so easily talked about. If it were easy enough to fix it, we would stop talking about it and start doing it, right? But it's not that it's difficult to fix it, it's just that it's easier to complain about it because the communal catharsis band-aids the deeper need we have to actually move our own dreams forward.
Here's the deal. I woke up this morning, and for the last 5 days, I've had this massive uneasiness in my chest. Now, part of that is probably the cold that I'm on the downswing of, and the other part is probably the client preview deliveries I had for brand-spankin' new business, TalleyMedia.com, this week. But at the root of it, my uneasiness isn't in those things, either.
A little bit of background on me: I'm massively structured, overly-organized, and if I'm not in one place at one time, my ability to produce content can be hindered. I went on a 3-month trip around the world teaching photography 2 years ago, and it was difficult for me to create more than a handful of portfolio pieces, because for me, production requires stability.
I'm an ENTJ on the Meyer Briggs Type Indicator. I need the structure in my life and the organization it provides to build things that are long-game. I want to grow my roots deep and make something that lasts, even if it takes me 4 years and not 4 months. When you're constantly traveling the globe - hat off to my beautiful Aussie wife who made that a reality in many ways - it gets hard to continue to build that structure and deepen those roots.
There's a lot of ways to be happy and there's a lot of ways to do that quickly. I wouldn't recommend most of them
And what I've learned after chasing quick happiness in the last two years has been nothing short of disappointing - given the chance to spend the time to make something longer lasting and more beautiful, our human nature follows the path of least resistance. We have to struggle through the pill-fix and offset our gratification now, so that we can be much happier later.
Is that to say that we're supposed to be unhappy now? No. No, not at all. Unfortunately, this also took me a long time to grasp... eating peanuts for dinner out of a smoky hostel in a basement in London with a broken tooth is one of the best ways to realize that life can also be enjoyed now, albeit in a a different manner.
So here I am, sitting on my couch at 7:20:33, :34, :35, :36, and asking myself why I feel that familiar unhappiness that carries itself in the air around me so often. In truth, I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm home now, I have a beautiful wife and we live in our dream apartment on our favorite street in our favorite city. We just got a cat who's cuter than a button. I have amazing friends. I have fantastic clients.
But I've lacked the structure to give any of those things shape or credit.
Now, not everyone is a creature of structure like I am, and I get that... but one of the things I've observed in creatives is that, while many of us do not entertain structure in the traditional sense, we still require it. Whether you're an ENFP or and ENTJ, whether your structure is non-existent or your structure is to-the-minute, the benefit of structure is massive and helps us accomplish our goals faster and more efficiently than we could without it.
But it's not just structure itself that helps us - it's structure around the things that we love. In fact, it's structure around the one creative outlet that gives us the most freedom to build and grow.
And lately, that's what I've been missing - I haven't written a blog post in nearly two weeks. To be fair, last week we were in California, shooting photos almost every day for some incredible clients. It was a blast, but in the lead up to it, my structure disintegrated and I stopped blogging - the one creative outlet I've chosen to pursue daily this year more than any other outlet.
And I feel it. And now, as I type this post, I feel it fade away. It's funny how creating, expressing, sharing your creativity can release so much tension and anxiety and pain. I talk often about the need for creatives to constantly be creating - to set goals and metrics for themselves that they can use to track where they're at, their progress as artists, and to give their day-to-day more meaning than originally thought.
We, as creatives, often forget that the number one thing we need to do is simply that - create. But how do we do that in an ever connected, constantly-on, always-moving and ever-traveling world?
We find one, repeatable creative action each day, and we do it every. single. day.
Nothing else in my creative life has ever helped me feel better about my life than creating something new each day. It's like an addiction, and if I don't get a hit fast enough, I go through withdrawals. If you're a creative and creativity isn't your drug of choice, you need to redefine what you are. Creatives feed on the mere action of creating, and when we don't do it often enough or with enough consistency, we find ourselves falling in to the trap of complacency and even, in my experience, depression, anxiety, and a loss of vision.
But an object in motion? It stays in motion. Press play, and keep playing. Start running, and keep running. Eventually you reach a tipping point where your infrequently becomes your daily, and your daily becomes your norm. Suddenly, you're achieving your dreams... and it's almost scary because you've only ever seen the bottom. I get it. I'm there right now and it's freaking me out. I have a new business and I'm creating exactly what I always wanted to create and I have more clients than ever before and the whole thing is absolutely beautiful.
And as long as I don't stop going, I don't stop creating, I'm anchored. It feels normal, albeit it the abnormality of it all. Self-employment, entrepreneurship, creativity... it's not for the faint of heart. If you're pursuing this path, be sure that you continue to create though all of it, because that is the number-one mistake I've made - trading my business for my creativity.
You'll feel ultimately better about who you are and what you do as long as you continue to create as often as possible. Don't ever stop. Don't ever give up.
TLDR: Keep Creating.
Photo by Freestocks.org on Unsplash.
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.