We have this interesting dichotomy in Western culture. We think we are a village, here to help one another. We get sad when we hear about people dying alone, unnoticed, in their apartments.
But we also value the independent, the iconoclast, the lonesome cowboy, the independent woman. We sing Power Ballads about being alone, and we brag about our bootstraps, and we praise the person who did it all-by-themselves.
We become three-year-olds: “I do it myself.”
I want to challenge that idea, that we’re all alone in this. No one does it alone, not really.
Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Lin-Manuel Miranda had Alex Lacamoire. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. F. Scott Fitgerald had Zelda. No one is a solitary, brilliant expert.
“No one-not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses-ever makes it alone.” – Gladwell
It’s true with our creativity. It’s true with our businesses. It’s also true with our mental health.
When it comes to our mental health, we’re not all alone in this. In fact, we simply can’t be all alone in this. We all need help because we weren’t meant to go it alone.
Help can come in a variety of forms.
Whether it’s your art, your hustle, or your mental well-being, don’t keep trying to make it on your own. Find smart people. Surround yourself with them. (The internet makes this easier.)
A busy and cluttered mind will never have a chance to become creative. Being overly busy, overly burdened, and completely frazzled had been a near-constant state for me. I found, however, that when I had too much going on, my writing and creativity suffered. I made less money because I was too busy to plan ahead. My family suffered because I was not present with them. My heart suffered because it didn’t have enough room to breathe. I had to make a change.
4. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Follow all your fears out to their logical conclusions. Ask if you can live with the consequences. “If I pitch to this client, and they say no… then what? Then I’ll still be alive AND will have gained some valuable pitching experience? That’s not so bad.”
3. “Share something small every day.” – Austin Kleon
Show the work in progress. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Show the steps. Inspire other people to be beginners, too.
2. Dance like an idiot.
1. Take a deep breath. Walk around the block. Spend a few minutes alone. Face the day. Face yourself. Face the rest of us. BE BOLD!
Think of all the people who have inspired you along the way. Think about that brilliantly designed ad that you ripped out of a magazine in high school because it was the first time you understood typefaces. Think about the blog post you saved and read over and over any time you needed it. Think about the quote you copied, word for word in your journal, because you never wanted to forget it.
There are people out there who have moved you, inspired you, saved you. They may never know that you are their one true fan. They may never know they have any fans at all, unless you track them down and tell them one day.
But just think. You might be this to someone else. You will have written the poem that someone needed. You will write the song that saves that boy’s life. You will write the paragraph that a young girl copied over and over, word for word, in order to memorize it, make it her own, absorb it in her bones.
You. You will make the thing that changes the course of someone’s life.
Don’t think for one second that your art doesn’t matter. You are creating the thing that is out there doing the important work of saving and changing lives.
You are creating to improve the quality of your own soul.
You are creating to knit together the tiny holes in someone else’s soul.
Your work matters.
Your art matters.