Reality Check: Remember Who You Are
Can we all stop obsessing over follower count for a few minutes to talk about why we got into this in the first place?
Art. Photography. Awesome calavera figurines.
Let me go ahead and quote Mufasa from The Lion King: remember who you are.
Are you in touch with why you’re doing this? Everyone has a ton of reasons, but I’m going to talk about mine.
One of the main reasons why I started to pursue this entrepreneurial venture was because I have many health problems. My immune system is so weak that I get sick almost every other month - and on top of that I frequently get ovarian cysts, so really just a recipe for using up ALL of my sick days in one month. Let alone those necessary mental health days.
I needed a job that allowed me to be flexible and work from home, and honestly to be my own boss.
My work ethic is incredible - I’ll brag about it. Since I experience manic episodes pretty frequently, I can use that energy to pour myself into whatever the task. I’ll have a week where I spend seven days straight working eleven hour stretches, but then I will need the next three days to decompress and lie around the house. That balance of mania and resting is something that makes everything that I do so strong, but normal employers don’t typically schedule people in this way (and even if they did, the chances that my mania would decide to follow their exact schedule are quite slim).
The other reason - and I’m going to be brutally honest here - is that I wanted people to like me.
I wanted to do something admirable and badass so that people would like me. There were tons of accounts on Instagram that I loved and, without knowing a thing about the people behind them, I began to think of them as heroes. Influencers on Instagram never seem to have a shortage of positive support, and I wanted that.
There’s a huge problem here: In neither reason did I mention art. My passion. My heart. My blood.
Talk about screwed up priorities.
So back to Mufasa who keeps reminding us to “remember who you are.” It actually took me leaving the US and traveling alone to Mexico for two months to get in touch with the real reasons why I was doing this. I listed two neat reasons right here, but it’s not like I was aware of them completely. Ok, well, I was totally aware of the first one.
But the second reason, wanting people to like me, that one was a hard pill to swallow. I didn’t realize that that was what was fueling my art. You can read more about the revelation here.
So why am I ratting myself out? Because I want this to become an honest conversation.
I think that the pressure of social media makes us feel like we have to create a strong identity and stick with it. It requires us to spin our flaws in a way that’s likeable, or to not mention them at all. And even if you think that you know your reasons and you’re happy about them - think again. There’s always a “why” behind every statement. Dig deeper. We do not have it all figured out, and the sooner you admit that the sooner you'll make genuine work.
For example, let’s look back to my very clean-cut reason #1: health issues. Why are health issues a problem? Because my employers don’t like me missing days. Why is that a problem? Because I’m constantly filled with guilt and spend the days that I am at work worried that they’re pissed about my absences. So yeah, it’s not that I actually cared about the employers’ feelings...it was my own guilt that made this unbearable.
My need to be liked by others mostly comes from a place of not really liking myself.
When you aren’t getting positive feedback from yourself you look to others to provide that. But it’s not their responsibility. And it’s NOT the reason that I want to be fueling this. You cannot trust other people to provide you with a never-ending supply of gratification. It’s unsustainable! You’ve got to find that power within yourself.
So I needed some new reasons for doing this.
I’ve been working to remember who I am. As my husband has pointed out, Mufasa doesn't tell us to "go find" who we are. He implies that deep down we already know.
I am a painter who learned from her grandmother on the hot July days of summer vacation. I deal with manic episodes that result in my painting 20 pieces in a day. I flake on responsibilities that I don’t want. I wear makeup every day. I love painting because it lets me play in color.
And I want you to like me.