Last week, I had a long chat with a good friend of mine. She had picked up that I had been tired lately, and sat me down to talk about it. I think I ended up talking a lot more than she had planned, but I enjoyed our chat and we both felt good afterwards.
Among the advice she gave me was ‘take selfish out of your vocabulary’.
You see, sometimes when you’re doing something you really love doing, and you have the opportunity to keep on doing it, you can actually feel bad about it.
Writing and painting are things that I do, first and foremost, for me. My painting is a raw self-expression of who I am and how I’m feeling, and sometimes I feel it’s too raw. My paintings develop organically, and when I finish a painting, I often question whether I am opening up too much on the canvas. In the end, however, it is art true to myself.
My writing is a different kind of self-expression. It’s not so much my self that I put into words, but my ideas. There’s a reason why highschool English teachers ask about the ‘author’s message’: we’re fighting to make our voice heard; to teach, in a more subtle way than ramming our message down people’s throats.
The bottom line being: my work is selfish. Or at least, that’s how I see it sometimes. It’s all about myself, my ideas, and my desires. This is the thinking that leads me to question whether I ‘should’ be writing – or get a ‘real job’.
And that’s where my friend’s message comes in. Fellow writer JC Hart has had this chat with me before (so obviously it’s taking a while for the message to sink in lol). Doing what you love is NOT selfish. I’m a teacher at heart as much as I am a story teller (I’ve noticed that many people’s first comment when they see my artwork is: “There’s a story in that, isn’t there?). It sounds cheesy, but all I want is for people to be happy.
I want to be a living example – for adults as much as children – that if you really enjoy doing something, if it fulfills you, then there’s no reason you can’t do it. You don’t have to have what’s customarily referred to as a ‘real job’, and I’m out there to prove it. I’d like to add that I’ve already seen results in this area, which is beautifully rewarding for me! (Although if a real job fulfills you, then by all means go ahead).
In addition to all of that, my wise friend Deborah Moss (and artist! Deb painted the puzzle piece for me, titled ‘Stars Make Me Teary Eyed‘) reminds me that it’s not what you do, but who you are. We all know that if we are around vibrant, healthy and generous people – we simply feel better. If you’re doing something you love, and enjoying your life, the spirits of people around you are automagically lifted.