I Finally Understand What it Means to do What You Love

Work In Progress / 15 October 2020

I was out for a walk yesterday, as I do often for a mid-day after lunch break, and I had one of the best moments of realization that I've had in awhile.

I'm an artist. 

Now, I'd been creative all of my life, made a lot of things from drawings to film, bestselling novels, acting, working on comic books that I loved as a kid, but I could never refer to myself out loud as an artist. At least not without a twinge of imposter syndrome rearing it's ugly head in my subconscious and the uncomfortable uncertainty of whether or not I've just added another person to the list of people who assume "artist" is synonymous with unstable, flighty and unemployed. 

Today I had none of that. 

Before I left the house I had taken a view over my portfolio and my output thus far for 2020. 

I am happier with the quality of my output than ever before, and I thought about that while I walked. 

In those thoughts, where there used to be uncertainty and doubt was now confidence and comfort.

Without pre-meditation or effort as I headed back home on the last leg of my jaunt I said it to myself. Out loud. Unironically. With no hesitation: I am an artist.

If was so relieving to realize that I finally knew that whatever makes human make art was within me and the solid confidence of that knowledge suddenly made any contradictory opinions unimportant and trivial. 

It felt good. It made me happy.

That feeling is something I want to hold on to and not give up. 

That little shift in realization suddenly made all of the difference. 

It's because I'm doing what I love and it makes all of the difference. Not being held back, not letting the heavy handed (closet insecurity) opinions of strangers and colleagues undermine my confidence in my abilities to take my original, undiluted ideas into art. 

I am deriving more joy from my art right now than I have ever in my life. 

Art makes me truly happy and I may be coming to the realization that I have found happiness and fulfillment, possibly for the first time in my life. 

I do what I love and it is such a blessing to embrace that. Block out all the negative bullshit that humans have trained themselves to spew with social media. None of that matters.

I know my source of happiness and no matter how much the other compartments of my life may be in shambles, I know that I can find happiness whenever I need it. 

It gives me a new appreciation for the cliche' of "doing what you love". A new understanding at least. I've been doing what I love for years and always strive to do what I love, but in many cases the stress made me question if I should have turned what I love into a career. 

Now I feel I understand that if you do what you love and it is a source of happiness, everything else can be figured out and fall into line after. 

Let me jump away from art and put this in the perspective of life in general. 

If you aren't doing what you love and aren't happy, not doing what creates your happiness for yourself, then you will inevitably look for happiness outside of yourself. Most of these other sources of happiness will give you a boost temporarily, but they don't last. Some will even leave you feeling emptier than you did before. Drugs, alcohol, sex, social media, porn, and a plethora of other things will give you the endorphins but it wears off quickly and you'll be hitting that button for another treat sooner than you think.

When you do what you love every day, those temporary things suddenly seem less important.

I know with all confidence now, that I can say to friends and strangers alike "I'm an artist (who also blogs about my feelings)" and what they do with that or think of it is inconsequential. Believe me, like my work, send nasty comments, I don't care. 

And that's the most important thing now. 

I know without out a doubt, that no matter what happens in my life, I'll always be an artist and I will always be happy and I am mentally strong enough now to say that and not let the unsolicited advice and opinions of others impact that negatively. 

In fact, knowing that I'm working from a place of joy and happiness, I can now much more easily see where other negative forces or people could be dragging me down in my life, and I won't accept it. 

When you work from the point of knowing what makes you happy and having it, it's suddenly much easier to see where distorted or toxic influences may be coming from. It makes you analyze your priorities and think about your stressors. 

It makes me analyze all of my relationships. Personal relationships, sure, but also work, clients, acquaintances, all relationships. 

I believe that there are two kinds of people: Those who add to your happiness and those that subtract from it. Whichever one a person is may not even be within their understanding or conscious decisions making, especially if they are a subtractor. 

Those that subtract from your happiness over complicate things, dwell in negativity and find tiny little ways to deter you and poke at your self-esteem because they come from an unhappy perspective. Those that add to your happiness boost your confidence and lift you up. I firmly believe that you can't change this state in someone else, only yourself. 

I know personally, for me to be happy with what I am doing, any relationship, personal, work or otherwise, must allow room for all involved to have happiness, dignity and self-respect. You'll find that it is more difficult to get these things from someone who is a subtractor and those will be the relationships that cause the most stress. 

Anyone else reading this is of course welcome to look at life and creativity in any way they want, but in my life, I know I no longer have room for those that subtract from my happiness. I'm an artist, I'm okay with that, I'm happy and it doesn't matter if someone else, even well meaning family members, are trying to help you find a "real" job.

I know what my happiness is and where it comes from and I'm not giving it up. I am no longer afraid that I will suffer or starve for my art, and if I do, so be it. I would rather live in a cardboard box and be able to make art surrounded by people who add to my happiness, then live in the world's biggest mansion surrounded by people who subtract from my happiness. 

It makes me also think more about my interactions with others and being a positive addition to the happiness of the lives of those around me too. I don't need to drag someone else down to temporarily boost my own happiness.

So I know I'm happy and I know I'm someone who adds to the happiness of others and expects those who are in my life to mutually add to each others happiness. It's much better than being a happiness subtractor.

So what about you?

Also here's some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike