Creative Dilemma

I’m Tired of Feeling So Exposed – a Creative Dilemma

I’ve been feeling exposed and raw recently, and since it’s nearly my birthday again it’s been a good chance to reflect about why and what to do. When this started I went through a range of ‘possible’ causes before I came up with the solution – bear with me.

Not going to plan

When I chose my three words for 2017 (Structure. Serve. Write.), I had no idea what the year had in store for me. This is the problem with planning and setting intentions – you’re only ever making a best guess about what you think your life will be.

So I set my intentions, thinking I would have time to focus on book writing – both the real non-fiction book about the lessons from My Year of TED and my first novel! And I started pretty well, but then I got a significant paid piece of work… and I think you all know how it goes from there.

But even though it appears to be a diversion, the work has allowed me to practice all three of these words. So it’s not that my intentions were wrong, it’s simply that the way I’m living them is different than I expected.

My inner critic is having a field day

Even though I am earning good money at the moment, and the work is taking up a lot of my time, my inner critic likes to remind me that I’m not doing what I had planned. I’m glad I hadn’t set goals for this work because that would have given her more ammunition.

She’s a real hoot at the moment actually, and this is after I’ve gotten her largely under control. Maybe she’s louder because I’m still unwell, and no we don’t know what the underlying issue of the current problem is yet – the B12 deficiency identification fixed a whole heap of things, but then new ones came along.

As an aside, I don’t know how anyone lives for a long time with chronic pain and illness – it is tiring, frustrating and is slowly pushing me towards another bout of depression (yep, I can feel that cloud descending).

But that’s not the reason I’m feeling so raw, and it took me a while to work this out.

It’s a vulnerability thing

The first of July was technically four years that I’ve been in business for myself – yes I had a job alongside it for the first year. Added to that it’s almost six years since I started My Year of TED – exposing my thoughts and feelings to the world. Okay, the bulk of the world has no idea I exist, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they could.

As I’ve been developing the new courses for Swinburne University, courses I am very proud of and excited about, this vulnerability has kicked up a new notch. I did a lot of adapting course materials for AIM, but this is new. I’ve been given free rein to decide what the important aspects of the learning are – what goes in and what doesn’t. Okay, people vet the content, but there is a lot of responsibility that goes with it. And while responsibility has a little to do with it, I think it’s more about the exposure.

The creative dilemma

Quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of creating and putting things out into the world – even though the world has been largely receptive or ambivalent to my ventures. I haven’t received a lot of criticism (not an invitation), so I probably shouldn’t complain. But regardless of that, I’m feeling raw, exposed and a little out of control.

This is the problem with creating in any way – you turn internal thoughts into external ‘things’ that people can criticise, and every creative knows that what comes out into the world is never as good as it was inside your head.

So what does it mean?

Nothing really, except I’m very aware of it at the moment. It does mean I should be changing how I contribute to the world or limiting my exposure – because that’s playing small and I’ve given up doing that (she says after contributing virtually nothing online in months).

I thought a lot about this two weeks ago when I incorporated my company – yes, I’m now the Director of dinkylune Pty Ltd. I considered whether the last few years have been a fun experiment but I should get a job and feel safe again? I’ve thought about this more than I care to admit this year, but I reached the conclusion that I’m doing what I want and need to be doing.

Is it perfect? No way! And I would never expect it to be. But it aligns and it gives me the freedom to create and work on things I enjoy. The feeling of being over-exposed will go away, I’m certain of that. And in its place, there will be a thrill of creation and sharing again. Then it will come back at some stage and I will go through the rollercoaster of emotions again. Because that’s how it works, and that’s why discovering the fact that balance is in the moment has been so valuable for me.

How about you my fellow creative (because we all create something)? Do you ever feel over-exposed in your creativity? Do you let it stop you?

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