Who are you as a creator? As a brother? As a sister? As a friend? As a co-worker?
We can be so many different things to so many different people at so many different times.
There's the version of you at work, perhaps bold, proper, well-spoken and even better dressed.
There's the version of you with your closest friends, perhaps peaceful, fun-loving, and carefree.
There's the version of you with your pets, perhaps gentle, or perhaps a bit overbearing. Maybe you start talking in baby speak.
"That's not like you", a close friend might say to you after you've done something uncharacteristic.
But on the contrary, it very much is you. It's just that you behaved a certain way outside of what your close friend has seen you do, outside of the "you" they know. The "you" that you present yourself as when you're with them.
It's a shame that when we think of people, or even ourselves for that matter, we sometimes average out all of what makes us truly unique in exchange for something easy to package up and describe to someone else. "He's a creative person", "She's an overthinker", "He's a worrier"—all these labels.
But when is he a creative person? All the time? Every waking hour? Or just sometimes? Under pressure? When he's relaxed? When he feels like it?
When is she an overthinker? When she's in the shower? On an important project? When she's thinking about how best to solve a particular problem?
When is he a worrier? When his job is on the line? When it matters the most? Or when it's all about the small details?
As humans, we're complex, multi-sided beings. Physically, emotionally, and metaphorically. We have so many sides to us that even the people closest to us, our significant others, our closest friends, or our families, never truly see all 100% of us.
And yet, we judge everybody we come across through the singular perspective of what's in front of us, completely disregarding the complexity of the other human who is also doing the same thing.
Our work is very much the same, too—Human-made, human-judged, usually from a single perspective.
When we look at a piece of work, we think about how it makes us feel. We think about how it relates to our lives. We create stories in our imagination to help us relate to it. Rarely do we ever muster up the empathy to think about what the artist was trying to say with the work, let alone consider the artist's mental state, emotion, background, and what they must be like as a person when they're in flow creating their art.
This is what I'm thinking about right now as I'm currently doing an experiment on my content.
In the past, on many of my channels, I've talked about the idea of authenticity in the face of this current surge of short-form video content.
Right now, there's so much trend-jacking and riding on the coattails of the truly creative, and I'm not alone in having a somewhat cynical, if not slightly outdated, view on it all.
But "the way that it has always been done" is perhaps one of the few sentences that give me nightmares, and so, my experiment currently is creating and sharing a Reel every day, for 30 days.
Historically, the side of me that has said, "just stick to what you know and ride this thing out. Consistency is everything, and you don't want your legacy to be short-form video anyway" has won right up until this point.
But as of March 1st 2023, I let the other side take over for a little bit. The side of me that says, "move forward with the industry, or the industry will leave you behind. Do what everyone else is doing because that will get you results, but as always, put your own spin on it and do it better than everyone else".
Two sides of me, still both very me. One hopeful and longing for the past, the other striving forward to the future.
And it's this struggle between these two distinct sides of me that has me thinking about who I am as a creator and how people perceive me to be as a creator.
As someone who puts their life on the internet, there's the way that you think you're portrayed by people, and then there's the way you're actually portrayed by people. Both matter, and one ultimately drives the other.
As creatives, we face this duality or even multiplicity of inner personalities that want to surface themselves to the world; it's a constant battle over which side of you wins at any given moment, for any given piece of work, or on any given project. Maybe if you're experienced, you might create a set of inner heuristics to make the decision easier for you, but most of us don't. We let the whims of our emotions carry us from day to day, moment to moment, and hopefully, those whims carry us to make something great that day. Maybe.
Our many sides, all competing with one another. We're all like that; we all surrender to the loudest voice within us at any given moment. That's how life is for all of us, and the longer I do this creative thing, the more I become okay with that.
So, the next time you're self-conscious about creating something and showing it to the world and your closest friends say to you, "don't worry about what other people think, just be yourself", well, which version of yourself might that be?
Something to think about.
See you next week, creative.