The biggest mistakes I made in 2015

An anecdote about self-worth and occupation.

Creatively, I’m indecisive. Creatively, I think I’ve been having an identity crisis. I start projects that lose steam or feel stale and let them fall into oblivion for a “better” project. I write down ideas that have yet to come into fruition. It’s something I’ve come to recognize about myself within the past few years. I’ve been to counseling sessions about it (paired with other issues I have). I’ve read articles about it. I’ve read books about how to establish better habits and just do it (Yes that means I’ve read “The War of Art” several times now).

The problem is, there’s no counselor, article, or book that can tell me what I need to dedicate my creativity to — what I need to focus on and what the end result is supposed to look like. Most people at least have the first box checked off in knowing what creative avenue it is that they want to immerse themselves into and hone day in and day out by the time they get to my age (25 years old as of 2 days ago). This year I’ve self-evaluated several times whether I’m even supposed to be a recording artist or whether I’m supposed to dedicate myself creatively to a different medium, I mean I didn’t even decide I wanted to be an artist until I was in college anyway. Verdict is still out. It hurts to even type that because for the longest time I knew what I was supposed to do — and I can’t say that anymore. I go back and forth because at various points in my life I’ve had various interests from drumming (which I’ve done the longest), to illustration, to playing electric and bass guitar, to producing, to songwriting, to graphic design, to photography, to film, to writing etc. I know I’m supposed to create, I do still have that assurance, but as far as how that will manifest itself — I’m honestly trying to figure that out. I don’t know if it’s my anxiety and depression that’s affecting my decision making with all of this or if it’s something else.

But I think as of lately I’ve detected some underlying emotions beneath it all that are problematic.

Emotion #1: I feel wrong for even feeling like I need to take a step back to gauge what it is I want to pursue as a creative because I should already know the answer by now.

Emotion #2: I’m embarassed of what people will think if I tell them that I might start over because I sounded so purposeful the first time I told them about what I was doing.

Emotion #3: I’m afraid it’ll be too late before I figure things out and I’ll have nothing to show for myself.

Emotion #4: I’m afraid of finally making a decision about what I’m going to do and then regretting the amount of time I spent doing it because it’s not what I thought it was going to be.

All of these emotions are governed by fear and paranoia. They’re ridiculous but how do I shake them? I’m afraid of failing because I have a wife and child now and I don’t want to look into their eyes as a man who can’t accomplish anything. I don’t want to be a husband and dad who just couldn’t make his mind up because he had so many ideas that it paralyzed him.

One answer to this dilemma that I have to bring into existence in my own life is a mindset of humility. I have to be humble about the fact that the control I thought I had over my life and emotions is a false understanding of the human experience. There are variables at play and I have to maneuver through them. I have to be humble about the perception that I project to other people as well. I shouldn’t give sure shot images of myself when I’m really insecure and don’t know whether I’m pursuing the right idea/project or not. That subtle bravado and false confidence that leaks from the words I say to people about my creative endeavors has to die.

Another answer to these problematic emotions that I’ve been carrying has to do with self-worth. Mine needs to be restructured and placed into the category of societal contribution in my everyday life, not artistic output (I know the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but that’s not my point). All of this has to do with feeling important and I’ve been putting my sense of worth in the wrong place — my occupation. Some of that is justified because our jobs and hobbies are typically where we spend a large degree of our time, and as a result where we attach much of our identity — especially if its something we like doing and something of greater good. But our lives are more than just what we do for a living. Was Christ’s title a revolutionary or a carpenter? I’m not Jesus but I know that I can’t bank all of my emotions and sense of importance into what I do creatively. It’s harmful to me.

So my ending thought is this. In 2016, I will try to place more realistic expectations on myself and I will be more gracious with myself. I will try to except the fact that the unexpected may happen and I have to adjust some things. More than anything though, I’m ready to find myself, find my grounding, and take off full speed into my creative destiny. Happy New Years.