Some Good News and Bad
"I have good news and bad - which do you want first?"
And there is always that small pause before the actor delivers their reply. I often catch myself answering in my head, and it's usually the same answer: the bad. I always want the bad news first.
It's not because I'm a pessimist. I'd argue that I ask for bad news first because I am in fact an optimist. And no matter how bad the bad news is, if you know there is some good news, too, it gives you the most valuable of things: hope.
So today, I have some good news and bad news. You can take your pick of which to read first, but I hope you go for the bad news, knowing that there is some hope in the ultimate good news.
So - the bad news is this: no one is watching you. As creatives, we are constantly creating in this weird vacuum of individually caring so much about our work, while no one around us seems to pay attention. It's like we're invisible so often. And in many ways, we are. No one else is watching you nearly as much as you think they are.
Take a minute to get your anger at me out - I know those were some jarring words to type. But I also hope that you know me well enough to trust that I have a reason for saying it. Hang with me, until we get to the good news.
So yes, no one is watching. Or rather, no one else is watching what you are doing the way you think they are. And I think you probably already knew that to some degree. It's why in a sea of over a billion Facebook users, you are struggling to be noticed. It's why you post image after image and only get a small handful of comments. It's why you're slowly backing away from the online forums and groups, because it's just so noisy out there, and you feel so small. I'm right there with you, feeling those same things along side you.
No one will ever care about your work the way you will. No one is watching you nearly as closely as you are watching your self.
But - there was good news, too, remember? Are you ready for it?
The good news is: no one is watching.
There is freedom in that same exact statement. Freedom to make the work you want to make, because who cares? There isn't anyone watching what you are doing. But you better believe that they see what you DO.
So that scary project or new technique you are worried about? Do it anyways. Because you are the only one watching yourself so closely. No one else is.
Or maybe the right way to say it is this - no one else is watching you as critically as you are watching yourself. We see you - don't mistake me. We see you and support you and honor you and we want you to succeed. But we aren't watching every move you make. You aren't under scrutiny, and you won't mess up in front of anyone that matters.
The only battle you are fighting is the one in your head. And most of us do so much better when we can practice behind a closed door, have a trusted eye read over something, or try something without the fear of embarrassment. And THAT is why "no one is watching" is such good news.
It's freedom in four small words.
So really, I suppose I should amend my early comments, and revise my "good news" statement to this: the good news is that the only person you need to worry about, who is watching you so closely and critically, is yourself.
So be gentle with yourself. Chase your dreams, be a visionary, but tell anyone around you who's opinion you didn't ask for, to keep it to themselves. You just answer to you. You watch you. You do you.
And you had better be kind to yourself, too.