Anxiety is a feature of the human condition. Period. It is a much larger feature than most people realize and we all spend inordinate amounts of time in order to reduce our experience of anxiety or in order to avoid anxiety altogether. Our very human defensiveness is one of the primary ways that we try to avoid experiencing anxiety. If something is about to make us anxious we deny that it is happening, make ourselves sick so that we can concentrate on our sickness, get angry at our mate so as to have something else to focus on, and so on. We are very clever creatures in this regard.
We are also very resourceful creatures who have it in us to create. “Creativity” is the word we use for our desire to make use of our inner resources, employ our imagination, our thoughts and our feelings into beautiful things like songs, photographs, paintings, literature and feel like the hero of our own story. It is the way that we make manifest our potential, make use of our intelligence, and embrace what we love. When we create, we feel whole, useful, and devoted. Unfortunately, we often also feel anxious as we create or contemplate creating. There are many reasons for this. We get anxious because we fear we may fail, because we fear we may disappoint ourselves, because the work can be extremely hard, because the marketplace may criticize us and reject us, and so on. We want to create, because that is a wonderful thing, but we also don’t want to create, so as to spare ourselves all this anxiety. That is the simple, profound dilemma.
Since both creating and not creating produce anxiety in a person who wants to create, you might as well embrace the fact that anxiety will accompany you on your journey as a creative person—whether or not you are getting on with your work. Just embracing that reality will release a lot of the ambient anxiety that you feel. Since anxiety accompanies both states—both creating and not creating—why not choose creating? Pick your next creative project with a new willingness to accept the reality of anxiety. To help reduce your experience of anxiety, remember to breathe deeply, speak positively to yourself, and affirm that your creative life matters to you. If some anxiety remains, create anyway!
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