There's a problem with art. Everywhere we go we are faced with extraordinary examples of it. Now, it's not just in books or museums but through several platforms of social media. Forget those making millions of dollars off their trade, the 'lesser known' people still have thousands of followers or likes. Compared to them, your pitiful little handful of followers is shit. And if we're really being honest, those handful of followers are either friends and family or users just hoping you'll like them back. And lately, that's all I've been thinking about. New Years has ramped up my thoughts on what I want to achieve this year and all my focus is on that end goal. But all it does is stress me out that I'm not there.
Which is even harder considering I'm on about 6 different social media sites with several types of hobbies. And my goal isn't even to become famous, it's just to create things. So why am I stressed about these numbers?
Recently, I started listening to a book called The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner. Honestly, I started it because it was a 'free' book on Audible and fairly short. Free meaning it came with the subscription but doesn't count as my 1 book a month. Chances are I've read similar things before or heard similar things before. But it just came at a well needed time.
Instead of focusing on where I want to be and what my 'end goal' is, I should be focused on the process of learning and growing. So who cares if my writing, photography, or whatever type of art strikes me that day, is any good? I enjoy doing it and it mentally takes me away from anything else. I know I can absorb myself into whatever project I'm working on. I just need to stop thinking about the end goal and start working again.
Because every day, whether it's at work or home, I'm learning something new. A year ago, I didn't have a clue how to buy a domain and set up my own site outside of a drag and drop premade template. And I've enjoyed figuring it out. Each time I take my camera out I find something new on the settings to mess with. Then, each time I edit them, I figure something out or determine I have a new taste in adjustments. Hours, literally hours, fly by as I'm adjusting pictures, writing fiction pieces, or working on my web design. To the poor ill fate of my immobile hips and knees. But I am totally lost in the process. So who gives a shit about the end goal?
“What are the problems that excite me? What are the problems for which I am willing to sacrifice for, to work for?” - The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
This book could have come at an earlier point in my life and potentially saved me a few career transitions. However, as I was in a state to agree with the author, it only further solidified my determination to keep up my side hobbies. The author described his dream of becoming a famous drummer. His eye was set on the end goal. But in the midst of growth, he couldn't make himself practice or learn what he needed to. He didn't enjoy the pain that went into it. It's not what do you want to be when you grow up, but what pain are you willing to endure. My end goal had been to be a Marine Officer. I loved the thought of being that steady-minded, highly reliable, great under pressure, type of woman. I wanted everything about it. While I was in training I soaked up the atmosphere, everything about being a part of it thrilled me. I remember sitting on the ground during liberty (aka break) and talking to my parents. Just looking around me, I felt complete pride and awe at the scenery of a military base and thinking 'this is where I want to belong'. But I was failing miserably. One of the reasons I was sitting on base, was that I was essentially 'grounded'. I was the only one grounded for leadership skills and not grades. Taking tests was easy, leading a fireteam squad into fake battle was hard. It was hard because even though I desperately wanted that end goal, I couldn't find interest in field maneuvers. I wasn't even that excited to hold a gun. It was a job sure enough, but learning about these things didn't excite me.
After I failed out due to physically being under-qualified I continued to train with fellow candidates. Everything they talked about was training. They compared rifles and talked logistics, or played video games where they talked about fireteam formations. They lived and breathed this shit. But I couldn't get into it. I loved the atmosphere, the other candidates, the sense of duty and the overall purpose of the job. I even enjoyed laughing about how bad training had sucked. It was miserable in the moment, but afterward, you could laugh about how tired you were, or how much you got yelled at, and feel good you had endured it for a good cause.
But I didn't enjoy the actual job.
So in the end, it's good I got sent home. I'll still stand by Marines being the best branch, and all I wanted was to do right by them and as a service leader, serving those under me. But I wasn't right for them. Though it took me sucking up my pride and years of regret, I've come to peace with that.
Day by day, I enjoy the pain of figuring out art. I enjoy the problems that come with it. I don't enjoy worrying about becoming famous or rich. So I focus on the process of happily learning.