Faith (not the George Michael album).

“I have learned that having faith is trusting in advance what will only makes sense in reverse.”
– Phillip Yancey

In life, you learn rather quickly whether you are a square peg in a square hole OR a round peg trying to fit in a square hole. If you are the latter, you may just be one of the creative set.

And being creative is no easy task. It’s almost setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. It’s an uphill battle at every turn. The path up the hill is loaded with signs telling you to “turn back”, “you’re not good enough”, “it’s been done before”, etc. So few eventually make it to the mountaintop, not because of lack of talent more because of giving up. The path can take its toll.

You have to have faith and believe in yourself.

In addition to slogging ahead and finding a way around those signs and all the set-backs, maybe you’ve got a day job that sucks the life and soul out of you. Maybe your family and friends are simply too busy with their own life to think about whatever it is you are doing. Maybe you’ve got a significant other who manifests their contempt for you by ignoring the very element that makes you, you. Maybe you simply are not that good…yet. That doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

You have to have faith. It is that simple.

Of course, there are those who have the privilege of benefactors, be they parents and trust funds or a social network large enough to fund every crowd funding campaign they start. But for everyone else, it’s a lonely, uphill struggle.

You’ve got to have faith, because no one else will.

Now look, having faith in yourself is neither God-centric nor the angry defiant “ME AGAINST THE WORLD” type of crap. If you define faith as God, that’s fine, but the “me against the world” stuff is teenage rebel stuff. Less esoteric to comprehend and juvenile is understanding that faith is simply believing in what you are doing, realizing that if you don’t do it someone else won’t. It’s that faith that gives you the strength to sit alone for hours on end sifting through your mind trying to find a seed to plant, water and grow.

The only thing you have to keep you going is you. You’ve got no one to hold your hand as you wander around in your head, no one to help guide you or mentor you or push yourself forward. It’s not that you lack vision or lack direction, you don’t. And it’s not necessarily that no one wants to help, they’re simply not you. Sometimes all of that crap comes together and overtakes you and you begin thinking, “What’s the point?”

That’s loosing faith. Don’t do that.

You hope that you’re creative voice is maybe, just maybe, loud enough to rise above the noise. And you get cranky that your job sucks the soul out of you, you get angry that your family and loved ones don’t hold you up above their own noise. It sucks, but you don’t stop. Because you can’t stop.

That’s faith.

No one can make you be creative. It’s impossible. And no one forces you to be creative. We may all start as clean slates but when we hit that fork in the road, which path do you take, the well traveled or the less traveled one? Most take the well traveled one. Is the white collar guy who connives and fails his way upward any less creative than the guy sitting alone in a dingy basement painting still life’s? We’ll never know. Which one provides more meaning to the world?

It’s that faith that keeps you painting.

Oh, and you’re gonna fail. You’re gonna make missteps. You’re gonna f*ck up. You’re gonna piss people off. You’re gonna alienate them. You can’t let those things stop you. It’s just creative collateral damage, or commonly known as “inspiration”.

But look, you’re simply never going to stop or silence the critics. If everyone loves you, they’re lying. If everyone hates you, they’re lying. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The reality is it’s their own fear that makes them judge you. It’s their cowardice that prevents them from taking a risk and showing themselves.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who sticks to it and manages to rise above the fray, then those critics will be the first people in your corner wishing you well and patting you on the back saying “I knew you could do it!”, recalling all those “glory days”. To be clear, there is the “glory” in the crappy basement. Where is the “glory” in thinking no one gives a sh*t about what you do? Where is the “glory” in all that isolation? Where is the “glory” in all that “inspiration”? There is none, but you don’t stop because you can’t stop.

That’s faith.

You do what you do because you have faith in yourself and when you are racked with doubt or full of questions, you keep going. You push through because it is only you that can get you to where you want to be. You have no choice. You don’t give up because you can’t give up.

It’s not suffering for art, it’s not pissing and moaning that no one is paying attention, it’s not playing the role of tortured creator. You will suffer, no one will pay attention and you already are tortured, you’ve just got to deal with it.

It’s focus.
It’s perseverance.
It’s dedication.
It’s belief in yourself.

It’s faith.