Chronicles of a Fledgling Filmmaker: Confessions About Pessimism and Anxiety
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Having a soul mottled by dark shadows is just another creative ingredient.
I am not an optimistic person.
Oh, I’m very good at pretending to be one, with my easy smile and constant laughter and an attitude that comes off like I’m some sort of cheerleader against the hardships of life. I look young, I act young, I’m involved in a thousand hobbies, and I’m taking steps to try to make my way towards my career goals.
That doesn’t actually mean I’m optimistic about any of it.
The truth is, I’m not one of those people who suffers from actual depression, but I do get depressed. A lot. I have massive problems with anxiety to the point where I’ll break down and cry if I don’t think I’m performing well enough for my targeted audience (whether that be a friend, a family member, an employer, or a fan). I constantly question myself, doubt myself, tell myself I’m not actually going anywhere in my life, and I’m always wondering why in the hell I’m still trying to chase my career dreams when my body will probably wind up finding a way to kill itself somehow over the course of the next decade. Lord knows it’s been trying.
I do so many things, involve myself in so many hobbies to point where I almost never sleep because if I stop, if I sit still for even a few minutes, all of those fears and doubts and harmful emotions come washing over me until all I can do is sit there, numb, staring at nothing in particular, wondering when the hell am I going to get myself straightened out. I think about myself, about how I wasted my younger years trying to please everybody but myself, about how I failed just about every friendship I’ve ever been in because I was never good enough to hold onto, how I’m such a socially awkward mess that I don’t know how to make new friends anymore unless I can do it behind the anonymity of the internet, how I can never get ahead financially because hospital bills and minimum wage jobs have been knocking me down since the beginning of my adult life, how I fall behind in even the hobbies I used to be good at because I’m too old physically to do them or not up-to-date on the way things are done now.
PS does anyone know where this hilarious comic came from? Would love to give attribution but we cannot find the source!
To put it short, I’m an emotional wreck when I allow myself to be, and I can’t even cry about it unless I take some time to watch some sad movies or listen to sad songs to jumpstart me from numb to actually feeling something. Or I go the other way and have moments like the one I’ve mentioned before when I pretty much snap and start painting phrases or symbols on my walls that mean nothing to anybody but me just so I they can inspire me to get up in the morning, like the one pictured above (if anyone can guess what it’s referencing, ten thousand points to you).
I don’t think I’m unique in that sense though. I honestly believe that having a soul mottled by dark shadows is just another ingredient in the recipe that makes a creative. That’s part of the reason why we create, isn’t it? To express our pain or maybe to escape from it, to build worlds where there’s less suffering or to place our suffering into a piece of art so that we don’t have to constantly carry it around with us? Practicing our craft becomes an outlet, a way for us to subtly scream our frustrations at the world, our own form of therapy that doesn’t involve sitting across from a doctor who thinks they’re better than you, smarter than you, even while you’re running circles around them with your own form of secret mind games.
Creating is good, a harmless way to exorcise all your demons, but it always becomes insanely difficult when you feel like your creations are not good enough. We all fall into that, wanting to give up on what we love because we feel like we’re getting nowhere, that we’re wasting our time selfishly exploring our inner psyche, putting it in tangible form, when we should really be out there earning decent pay and “contributing to society in a useful manner.”
I get that. I do. As a non-optimistic person, I understand what it feels like to think that what we’re doing is pointless and will get us nowhere.
But I also know that quitting is not an option. I know that if I stop writing even though I’ve been going through a major crisis in regards to my talent as of late, if I stop involving myself in fandoms even though they take up more of my free time than is probably healthy, if I turn away from dancing even though my body isn’t capable of moving the way that it used to, if I stop singing even though my voice has never been good enough to take me anywhere outside of a karaoke bar, if I give up any of that, I will give up on everything. Without my silly goals and my bucket list full of impossible dreams, I have literally nothing, and I don’t want to have nothing. I don’t want to sit here staring at my wall until I’m consumed by all of my failures. I don’t want to trudge through life being numb to everything around me all because I refused to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t want to be the person who gave up because it was “too hard.”
Right now, admittedly, I am not where I want to be. I’m closer though, always inching closer, and that’s what I have to hang onto to keep pushing myself forward. In the words of Thomas Edison, my personal historical hero, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” and I firmly believe that. I don’t actually wake up and tell myself every day that today is the day that I’m going to be successful. I am not optimistic enough for that. But I do look at myself and say, “Today you are not going to give up, because you are working at getting closer, and if you miss your shot because you walk away one day too soon, then you’re a dumbass who deserves to be miserable.”
Harsh, I know, but it works for me. I strongly suggest to my fellow struggling creatives that you find something that works equally well to motivate you. Anything. Whatever you need to keep your ass in gear; because if you stop, if you quit, you are always going to wonder if maybe sticking around for one day longer would’ve made a difference. You don’t want to be dwelling on that for the rest of your life.
Keep creating. It’s that simple. Throw your shadows at the world in whatever way you see fit, and maybe that’ll be enough to get you ahead in your life. On the other hand, maybe it won’t, but at least you’ll know you kept trying. I’m not asking you all to be the Little Engine That Could. I’m simply telling you not to be the Little Engine That Didn’t. There are enough of those in the world already.