A creative practice, be it writing, cooking, painting, rearing children or simply going on with one’s day to day life is full of doubt. Uncertainty is at the base of all that we create and how our days are filled. Through creation and presentation of what we’ve created as creators of our lives or if we’re artistically inclined, through some sort of creative output, we receive feedback to continue or abandon a certain belief we’ve been holding on to.
As a writer, the one belief I hold onto is that my words open doors to a greater perception of myself, others and this leads to improving my relationships. Through putting my thoughts into words in writing, I get clarity on what meaning my life has.
A limiting belief I hold onto is that the people around me should understand, appreciate and gain a whole new perspective on life through my work. Today I find my belief threatened. I sit typing this piece in the hopes that a greater truth will replace it.
The self-doubt I’m experiencing came from an unusual place. My very own family.
We are Living in a Material World
Growing up in Turkey in the 80s, I remember that my mother’s sisters, all three of them, were preoccupied with one thing – money! In those days, the whole country was hungry for everything American. Coca Cola, blue jeans, name brands, you name it, if it was brought from the U.S. it was hot, hot, hot. My father’s side of the family was grounded in bureaucratic values as government work ran in the family for at least three generations that I know of.
Maybe feeling like she wasn’t understood by her own family was the reason mum agreed to put distance between herself and her sisters who were acting out the role of sirens classifying and qualifying men on the size of their wallets. Ironically, the distance she put between herself and her sisters was the Atlantic Ocean and we ended up in the U.S. whereas my aunties much infatuated with America remained in Turkey.
During our time in the U.S. we maintained little contact with mum’s family. Mum always blamed dad for keeping her away from her family. We didn’t even go back to Turkey when mum’s dad passed away.
Our lives in the U.S. kept reinforcing the limiting belief that everyone is as valuable as their bank account. It was in part this belief which forced mum to seek work outside of the home. She sold baked goods at farmers’ markets. She started with one day a week and then before long was going to the markets almost every day. She got enjoyment out of making friends with other merchants and customers but more importantly, she was seeing the money she was making as it was cold hard cash. People showed their appreciation straight away by paying her for her hard work. In the home, the best she could get from us for preparing our food was a slight nod of approval or a “well done” but more often than not we didn’t like or appreciate her food and dad gave her tips for improvement which she never appreciated. No wonder she preferred working the markets to working in the home where she felt she could please no one.
My experiences growing up in a household with a mum obsessed with making her own money, despite never properly registering or legitimising her farmers’ markets efforts as a business with profit and loss statements and tabs on how much her time was really worth led me to believe foolishly that my writing must earn me money or it’s a waste of time.
I put pressure on myself to turn my writing into a copywriting business and then got fed up because prospective clients came to me with demands for what I perceived as mediocre projects. Furthermore, they did not want to pay my hourly rate denying the fact that I had to work overtime to get any sort of decent material out of those whose ventures were in their infancy.
The Wanderess and I
One of the first clients I had was an entrepreneur who started a business around ethically sourced fashion and natural beauty products. She went through a difficult period in her life to re-emerge with the help of natural beauty products and a book. The book, The Wanderess sounds like another version of Eat Pray Love but with a twist. It’s written by a man. He’s captured the zeitgeist of the feminine spirit wanting to be liberated from the expectations of men in their lives.
This particular female entrepreneur was so moved by the book that she based her business model on the archetype.
I was recruited or introduced to this lady by her financial planner as he thought I fit the bill of a “money ninja”. So in I went, not having made any significant amount of money from cultivating my gift for writing and putting it to the service of any and all who wanted to pay. Initially, she wasn’t so sure about working with me.
I coaxed her by e-mailing her several times and eventually she felt there was some urgency in building up her profile on LinkedIn with my help.
That’s when the relationship fell apart.
Wandering is a Part of the Creative Process
The truth is she did not need me.
She needed to wander as wandering is an important part of the creative process defined by Scott Jeffrey. The wanderer archetype is just as it sounds and is free from all expectation and agenda in his or her wanderings. Open and empty are the adjectives for the wanderer. Just as a cup must be empty to be filled, such is the wanderer’s mind ready to conceive.
Whether what she had in front of her is a business or a life philosophy is open to discussion. What’s clear is that I’m not anyone’s money ninja as I no longer see a clear and linear path to money from following one’s creativity or bliss. It’s a path to fulfillment, sure. It leads me to feel fulfilled with my life and appreciative of everything I have around me, especially my partner and my little girls. Is fulfillment something that money accomplishes? Perhaps up to a point. When all basic necessities, like safety, shelter, food, clothes are provided (which they are by my partner) anything additional does not lead to increased fulfillment.
Case in point, having five as opposed to three houses doesn’t make anyone any happier. It may mean they have more bills to pay, renters, insurance and property managers to worry about.
Free Your Creativity From Your Family’s Misunderstandings
What role did my materialistic aunties had to play in me coming to the epiphany to give myself permission to wander?
I joined my aunties on WhatsApp a few months ago despite not understanding most of the conversation in Turkish reflecting their day-to-day lives I’m not connected to. To give you an idea, the messages would fly so rapidly that it wasn’t unusual to see over a hundred messages within a few minutes from three or four of the main players, two of my surviving aunties and my female cousins. No males partook in the conversations.
With past Valentine’s Day, many of my aunties’ messages were around the old pattern of expecting material stuff from men. Again, this stuck with me only because of my own materialistic tendencies. It may be that I haven’t completely resolved my own issues with money and my temporary incapacity to make any money from my gift. As much as I’d like to free myself and my writing from the pressure to make money, I think society’s expectations that everyone should make money to survive is deeply ingrained in me and I may never be fulfilled until I see some sort of income from pursuing my creativity.
Their messages reminded me that in their view my writing, which made no money, is not something worth talking about. Furthermore, they failed to comprehend the spiritual messages that I thought were clear to everyone. Of course, I’m sure language was another barrier to them understanding me.
This breakdown in communication made me feel like an alien. Furthermore, it made me question whether I have a gift. A writer no one understands. What kind of a writer am I?
So I left the chat group. I love and appreciate everyone around me and try my hardest to appreciate that everyone’s journey and life experience is different. What I can’t risk is losing my belief in my gift and I lose that when those whom I think of as family don’t understand me on a deeper level.
It is only a chat group and I made it clear to everyone that I love them but have limited time for online chats.
But…I have all the time in the world for wandering, now that I’ve somewhat regained belief in my own creative abilities.
Over to you…
When do you feel your creative abilities diminish? How do you recover your belief in your own creativity?