Overcoming Rejection: Create Meaning in Your Creative Life
I’ve been thinking this last week how easy it is for us to hinge the whole point of our lives on our creative work. We put so much of ourselves – our spirit, psyche, physical energy, hopes, dreams and future self – into it. Yet, how easily that work is seen today, forgotten tomorrow.
We throw everything we have into a project and in the matter of a few business decisions by people who are most likely not emotionally invested in our work, it can all be dismissed and forgotten – forever. And even when we “make it” – the public enjoys our work for such a short time, then so quickly moves on.
It’s all so transient.
(Sure, every now and then a work will become a classic, but often not until the artist is dead.)
So what keeps us going? And is it healthy for us to pin so much on something that we adore, but has no power to love us back?
We create because we can’t not create, it’s simply our calling in life. But as much as we focus on the end result of our creativity, if we aren’t anchored and grounded to something far more lasting, we leave ourselves wide open to being torn apart and devastated. Repeatedly.
So what really matters? What is it that we can ground ourselves in so that when our work is done and gone, we’re not left wandering in the desert of futility?
Two things: the process of creation and the people we touch along the way.
If we find deep meaning in the process of creation, then we can continue to find meaning as we work on new projects. And no one can take that away from us.
If we find even deeper meaning in the lives that we bless and touch during the process, then we’ve found something even stronger to hold on to. And we can know that no matter what happens to our work, we’ve made a difference in our journey.
Isn’t that where true meaning in creative life lies?
Not in the big, glorious, high moments that we spend so much time pursuing and are here and gone and, in all honesty, leave us deflated, wondering “was that it? is that all? why don’t I feel any different now than I did before?” – but in the everyday process of doing the work, in the challenges, the creative decisions, the pursuit of excellence in our craft and in the joy of blessing others along the way.
Anchor yourself in what matters, in the deeper meaning of why you create.
Then hold on to that purpose when rejection and disappointment hit.
You’ll have the certainty that you’ve lived your life well. And no one can take that away.