Unfortunately most creative artists are already a part of a community. A toxic community that has all the compassion of a rattlesnake, pitches negativity whenever it has the chance to (which is many) and can make a saint doubt his ideals.
Have you ever delayed, hidden or suppressed a dream, just because it is not expected from a person of your age/stature/role in your family/society?
Have you ever flinched or stuttered apologetically when some one expresses confusion over your chosen profession or undermines your aspirations to be a writer/artist?
Have you always felt a little side-tracked in a crowd of near and dear ones, simply because you are a creative person who pursues her dream?
If you say yes to any question, you are the victim of a toxic immunity.
Periodically I am questioned for my ‘silly’ dreams, ‘impractical’ ideas, ‘useless’ desires.
What AM I doing with my life?
Do I realize what people my age are accomplishing (great job, purchase of dream house, 1.4 children, etc.) – HOW can I bear to be ‘beneath’ them?
WHY this desire to have a writing blog or hold free workshops and going abroad to edit anthologies for impoverished immigrants?
WHO really cares if I did all this or not, seriously?
Well, I do.
I care. And it has taken me years to say that without flinching, without feeling ashamed, without feeling like I was disappointing some one, somewhere by feeling the way I do.
Back when I decided to ditch architecture for writing, the shit really hit the fan. I had to literally stay at home to avoid all insults and brickbats hurled at me. It appalled the middle class junta to see someone turning their back at an expensive college education, and jump into an unknown profession, all in the name of ‘passion’ (to some, it’s a vile word!).
Here’s the clincher. As soon as I won an international fellowship and started publishing books, the nay sayers abruptly vanished. Their bodies remained back, though. The very same folks who admonished me, were now showering me with praises. A “well-wisher” who had previously predicted the sad fate of my parents who had borne such an ungrateful daughter (his words) now was openly telling everyone that he always knew I would be a star someday (again, his words!).
So… by now, I ought to be used to all that. If I quit a well-paying job or moved abroad to study writing – censure. If I get quoted / reviewed on national paper or become a judge in a popular talent contest – compliments. It does take a village to raise an artist child, but this was the pits.
Truth is, every time the world reads with baffled rage at my dreams, it hurts. I bleed. I am baffled myself – they still don’t get me? I still don’t fit in? And it gets a bit more tough to remain focused on my goals.
But I force myself to remember my past, how just one success made all the naysayers into yaysayers. And I am determined more than ever to succeed and make them recant their words, again and again, eternally, so that they learn to never, ever predict some one’s future again.
The next time some one makes you feel your dreams are less than ideal because they are not what they want them to be, what will you do?