Someone had once warned me about getting old. "There will come a time in your life, and you are about there, where you start really questioning yourself. You start asking if you have really contributed anything in this world, if you are really utilizing your time efficiently, and if what are you doing that truly matters. You begin to realize that death is imminent and wonder if you are doing the best you can." I never really gave it much thought back then.
I am approaching 30 years old and I am days away from getting married to the love of my life. I am definitely thinking about my future, our life together, and the kind of father I want to be when we eventually have kids. I find that I am starting to ask myself if I really truly am giving my dream it's all. Whether or not have I left any stone unturned.
Fortunately, I have been doing years of research on creative habits and creative professionals to know that the game isn't quite over yet. I've always held a somewhat optimistic attitude when it came to the ideas of past regrets, death, and growing old. There are a few quotes that I always find inspiring, especially in times like these and I hope they are as inspiring to you too. Disney had a good one about disaster and success:
Low times are not an appropriate excuse to quit one's dreams. If everyone quit when times were tough, nothing would get done. Rather I think the appropriate way to handle low times is to look at new paths to take towards one's ambitions. Put ambitions on the back burner if one must, but don't quit. Still, low times can influence how we perceive the world around us and ourselves. Low times can make self-doubt set in.
Doubt, I feel, stems from a lack of sharing one's own work and worrying too much about the noun and not enough about the verb. Ultimately, the idea here is to not give up and to do something small every day (Austin Kleon made an excellent post about this on his blog). Andy Warhol has some encouraging words on the matter of worrying about if one's art is good enough to share. I enjoy these words so much I've made them a principle in my studio life:
I have spent more time than I would like to admit worrying about what other people think of my work. It isn't that I am afraid of rejection, but the block comes in the form that I want my work to be noticed. I want there to be an audience and I want them to be pleased. So my inner editor tries to influence me not to make the work I would be proud of but the work other's would want to see. That idea, in it of itself, is flawed because there is always an audience out there for anyone's work and you cannot please all of the people all of the time.
There are people who love what Casey Neistat does and there are people who don't like it. Some people love anime so much they dress as their favorite characters at conventions and there are people who don't really care for it. There are people who absolutely love Apple products and there are people who hate them. In speaking of Apple, Steve Jobs has yet another quote I keep in my mind and heart:
I don't feel like growing old deserves a warning. Warning gives way to worrying. Worrying about the inevitable is time and energy that could be better spent toward focusing on one's goals, dreams, and the good they contribute to the world. I make it a point to try to worry as little as possible because after all...