My current work in progress is a novel about five young artists at an art school (university) in England. They’ve all got their fair share of problems and at the school, they are able to confront these and finally better their lives.
I wanted the theme of Identity to be at the centre of the book, but also three morals. Three takeaway lessons for other budding artists, and people who wish to lead their best life…
1 – Take life less seriously
This is a hard one for me, as someone who does take life seriously. But lately, with how much I’ve been into Philosophy, I’ve realised that I need to embrace the absurd. That life is random and crazy and chaotic at times and that’s OK. In fact, it’s great. It means that we should never get too caught up in problems or when things go wrong. Because, well, things will probably randomly go “right” again at some point.
Better to laugh it off, roll with the punches, and move on. Because what’s the alternative?
This is even more important for artists. We can fall into the trap of taking our art too seriously. As soon as I got into the publishing game, I took my writing much more seriously. Which put more pressure on me and stifled the creative process.
Therefore, we artists need to be more laidback. We need to play with creativity, not milk it dry and depend on it too much and beg for it. It makes facing a blank page or a blank canvas less daunting if we take it less seriously. It makes every time you sit down to create more exciting, which will, as well all know, help the creativity to flow through you a lot better, too.
2 – Be you
The second big lesson that the characters need to learn if they want success and happiness is that they need to be their true selves. Always. The characters each have problems to overcome or hidden truths inside themselves that they need to let go of. Their past is steering their lives, but who they were then, or what they went through, is not who they are now.
They have the opportunity now to decide for themselves who they want to be and what they want to do, the only thing holding them back is themselves.
All of us have the opportunity to make ourselves and our lives what we want them to be. We get to decide. The trouble is, a lot of us hide parts of our true selves and our true desires. We want to belong and fit in so that we’re not alone. This is a natural human instinct dating back to Caveman times when we needed to belong in order to survive.
But we’re not in Caveman times!
Yes, belonging feels good but pretending to be someone you’re not in order to belong is much worse. And I am a firm believer in finding your tribe; finding the people who respect, love, and cheer for you as you really are. The people you truly belong with.
But you will never find those people and that happiness if you keep clinging to the past, pretending to be someone else, and trying to fit in with the wrong people.
Be you and success, happiness, and community will come to you.
3 – Learn to adapt
It’s no secret that life won’t always go to plan. In fact, it probably won’t most of the time. Especially as a creative person on their way to success, that road will be very rocky. At times, you will lose sight of the road altogether.
This is why we all need to learn to adapt. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Just adapt.
If you can adapt, and get comfortable with adapting over and over, you will survive. It’s the basic law of Evolution: adapt to survive.
That doesn’t mean change who you are or change your goals or dreams, it means finding a new way to come at them. A new angle, focus, or plot. Think outside the box and find what works.
Let go of the image you had in your head of what you thought your life would be. Expectation = pain and disappointment.
When you’re on the road to success, never get off the road entirely; instead, learn to just switch lanes when you need to, adjust your speed, ask for directions, or take a break at the service stations along the way. But never get off the road altogether. And hold on to your internal compass…it’s always guiding you.
You know what each of these morals have in common? Freedom. Peace, lightheartedness, trust, enjoyment, and freedom in your life. Freedom from the pain of disappointment and taking life too seriously; freedom to just be yourself; and the freedom to change your skin and adapt over and over again when needed.
Life is hard. It’s complicated and downright cruel at times. And when you’re a creative person or a highly ambitious person, life will be even harder. Therefore, the only way to enjoy it and succeed is to keep these three morals in mind: take life less seriously, always be You, and learn to adapt.
Happiness doesn’t come after success; happiness should be what you feel while you’re on your way there. And that’s the only way I ever want to live my life.