my creative cortex

getting through life with creativity

I've procrastinated for 27 years.



You know the feeling you get when you see someone else living the life you dream of?


Scrolling through social media and seeing all the talented humans making incredible artwork brightens up my day - but seeing the life they're living fills me with dread.

Why? Because that should be me.


Even when I see people I know dabbling in creativity, I start to feel anxious. All my life I've been making art – I have always been “the creative one”. So why aren't I, 27 years into life, deeply absorbed in a successful creative career?

I feel like I'm falling behind.


I've taken a long break from pretty much everything online for a few months. It actually wasn't intentional, it just happened. I'd love to say that I was intensely productive, producing a ton of creative masterpieces and really finding my "creative groove" - but I wasn't.

I was lucky enough to get a day job as a cleaner just before c*vid. Through these last few months I've been so grateful, both for having a steady income and for being allowed to do my part to keep others healthy. But it also drained me of so much, which is why I allowed myself to just be present in that role.


And it's only now that I realize that I kind of needed that.


I've worked on some art and design projects, but not as much as I should have and I have even put some projects on hold because I just didn't have the mental energy for them. So mostly I've spent this time focusing on my wellbeing, reading and journaling and trying to find the answer to that very question: why don't I have a successful creative career already?

And I found it - or parts of it, at least.


One part of the answer is simply that I've been a bit lazy. I've never committed enough to take things all the way, I haven't put myself out there as much as I should and kind of just hoped things would come my way. I've always had excuses for why things weren't progressing (some of them valid). But the other part of the answer comes as the answer to another question: WHY haven't I fully committed and done everything it took to succeed?


You see, I feel like I've made one fundamental mistake for years:

I've been focusing on the one thing I can already do pretty well.


Portrait drawing and realism has been my thing for a long time. It's something I was always good at and once I knew that, I put all my focus on it and I never took time to explore other types of art - even when I did it probably still had someone's face in it.

It's important to work on improving your skills, but I was forcing all my energy into this one thing, without really knowing if that was what I wanted to do. I didn't ask myself the question of, do I have enough passion for portraits to keep me going for many years? Do I enjoy them enough to want to become the best portrait artist? If I had, the answer might have been no.


So I've been stuck in this dilemma of not wanting to work hard enough to become the best at what I've been doing - but also not wanting to use my skill for anything else.


And this is why I haven't put all that I have into what I'm doing. This is why I keep fluctuating between being "all in" and "all out", sometimes having periods of doing lots of things and then suddenly having a stretch of time where my enthusiasm drops completely.


One of the beauties of being a creative is the freedom you get with it. As with any kind of work, sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. But it's also your responsibility as the creative to experiment and come up with different ideas when something isn't working.

So that's what I'm going to do.


This post isn't supposed to be a bummer. I don't mean for you to feel sad reading it, because this is actually a helpful discovery - and I hope this can help you too!


Basically what I'm saying is that you shouldn't box yourself in. Don't just do things you're good at because then you'll never learn anything new. And don't keep doing things JUST because you're good at them. There needs to be something more to keep you coming back, you need to be excited and more importantly, you need to have a direction and goals.


Also, remember that it's okay to change directions. Even when it feels like you're going in the opposite direction of where you want to go, it might simply be a case of taking an alternative route - or it might mean that you weren't going in the right direction to start with.


So what is changing for me? I'm still doing portraits, but I'm going to be experimenting more in my work and not be as concerned with the realistic side of it or always making it "perfect".


I'm also exploring the relationship between art and wellbeing, like psychology and art therapy. I want to incorporate more of that into my work, because I've had to face my share of challenges with both mental and physical health in my life - and art has helped me through so much of it. I have lots and lots of ideas and hopefully something good will come from it.


I don't even know if this post made anysense and I barely know what the point of it all was - but I guess I just wanted to let you know I'm back.


I hope you're all doing well and staying healthy.


Lots of love,

Silja.


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