“You have to do work for yourself. If you do it for other people, you end up wanting them to acknowledge it and to be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it for yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way.”
New Year, New Plan.
Sometimes, things happen that make you reappraise your entire approach to certain areas of your life. Goals, wishes, ambitions, the stuff that makes you happy and – more importantly – why it makes you happy.
I spend a lot of time dreaming up creative projects and ideas, making lists and plans…and ultimately do very little. I worry too much about the reaction the finished articles will get, becoming overly critical of both them and myself. Stressing over the opinions of others ends up with an output of zero. No writing. No doodling. No crafting. No cooking. No baking. Everyone else can do these things far more expertly than I can, so why bother?
Mostly anything I do starts off with the intention of making people smile, or laugh. That the reaction will may be shaking of the head coupled with “what the hell is this supposed to be?” or “this woman is an idiot”, leads to the inability to produce anything.
Over the last few years, I’ve put a lot of time into making gifts and cards. The thanks and appreciation is always outweighed by a lack of response, or the shoving of unwanted items into drawers or the nearest bin (in my head, anyway). Often I feel the effort isn’t really worth it. Does it look right? Is it defective? It’s not perfect. It looks awful. Let’s scrap this and start another. What the hell are people going to do with these crafted items anyway? What will they think when they open them? Will they hate this? They’ll probably hate it.
Last year I made tentative steps back into the world of burlesque performance. This resulted in crippling paranoia that almost made me run out the door of the venue every single night. But on the plus side, I can at least say that I’ve tried. I’ve been on stage, and the world didn’t end, and this week I made a brief appearance at The Stand in Edinburgh. So if I never get the opportunity to do it again, I know I’ve done it. And I may have even used the same toilet as Stewart Lee. That’s something to be proud of.
For a long while I had been actively trying to write about film, but the realisation dawned that I just don’t know enough to talk about cinema in a way that can be taken seriously. I take the piss quite often, though I’m never sure if it goes down well. Rather than feel more positive, I lose confidence and convince myself everyone thinks I’m a fool with each post I hit save on. Am I wrong? Do I like the right things? Do I ‘get’ it? Is my train of thought even coherent in any way? Oh my Gosling – do I even make sense at all? What will anyone who actually may read this think?
I panic about making anything because I worry it will go unwanted. I stress over writing because I am sure it will bring only scorn and sneers of derision. I put off learning new things for fear of failure and the joke-making of others. I get myself upset over what I imagine people say about me behind my back. There is far too much emphasis on others, and what they think. A need to please that brings self-doubt in place of the happiness it should provide.
For that reason, I think it’s about time I focussed on pleasing myself where creativity is concerned. For a little while, at least. Get to know what I like, what I don’t. Strengths and weaknesses. Limitations and natural abilities. Forget the possible reactions for once, and just have fun with it. It’s not as though I’m being paid for what I do. This alone should be enough to spur on some crafty adventures and written-word thought gathering.
If I’m happy with the page I’ve typed, like the piece of jewellery I’ve finished, or take pleasure from the crazy little creature standing in front of me as I cut off his threads…that should be enough. When – yes, when, not if – I start creating on a more regular basis, then I can start considering the opinions of others.
As to whether anyone reads this? Who cares? This can be nothing more than a personal progress chart to add to. Somewhere to add everything I create, or do, or try my hand at. Something to provide the encouragement needed to keep doing things that make me happy. The friendly place to head to when I think I’m useless. A train of thought that overcomes a lot of us, many more times than we’d wish to admit.
This year I aim to make more. Do more. Push myself further. Open another Etsy store. Have more fun. Finally finish that project I’ve been working on with my friend David…which really, is YEARS overdue. But more importantly, I aim to stop worrying.
So…welcome to Shaky Ghost.
It’s still a little ‘under construction’ here, but give it time…
If you come back you might see some fun stuff, some nice things, some random oddbod weirdness, a tiny bit of self-improvement mumbo jumbo, and me embarking on a year that will be unlike any that have gone before.