Over the past few years, I’ve been struggling. Honestly, struggling is kind of an understatement. Life has not been that easy, and nearly every day I reflect on what is going on and who I am as a person. I often ponder my past and all that has occurred in my story of life so far. Flashes of my childhood and teenage years float through my mind, both having their fair share of wonderful and cringy moments. And while my life is more than just my artistic and creative endeavors, I hold them in high regard and almost obsessively think about my identity as a creator. Creating is something that I’m proud of, and I want the world to see all that I have fashioned out of nothing.
But with the truffles that I have had in recent years, my creative and artistic identity have been somewhat in the forefront. Doubt has crept in and festered, never seeming to get out of my head. Comparing myself, story and work to those of others has also been a downfall that I can’t seem to recover from. Finding your identity is hard for anyone, and I personally think it can be especially hard for those in the creative field. And reclaiming that identity after some time can be even harder.
Creativity has played a significant part in my life for as long as I can remember. My imagination has always been big, and to this day I treasure it, almost more than anything else. It’s kept me sane when everything around me was anything but, including my own mind. Growing up I took part in a variety of artistic activities. From drawing to painting and everything in between, I loved using my hands to make something that the world had never seen before. But writing was my real calling, and when I reached high school I decided to give it my all. I wrote as much as I could, covering topics that many would not expect a teenager like me to care about. Writing was not just a creative passion: it was a kind of savior that encouraged me to keep going when all I wanted to do was give up.
My passion for writing continued on into my college years. I opted to pursue creative and professional writing as my majors at school, and over my time there I branched out in my writing and became more exposed to how much it can influence the world around me. But I soon discovered another creative passion that gave me an outlet for expression: photography. It all seemed to happen by chance that I got into photography. It was something that I always found to be cool, but I didn’t think that I had anything good to contribute. Nonetheless, I tried my hand at it and soon discovered that I had some talent that could grow into something more. I put in the time and effort to grow my skills, and soon found that photography could provide me with opportunities that I never thought were possible.
After I graduated from college, most of my time was spent trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Like anyone in that post-grad phase, the answers to your problems never seem to come fast enough. During this time I continued in my creative endeavors, but things began to change. No longer was writing my main outlet. Photography had become the main love in my life. Looking back, I think this was mainly due to the fact that taking photos gave me more opportunities to share my work with others. People were impressed, and I loved to hear their praises. In a way, I think my photos were much more accessible to others—they would rather spend a shorter amount of time studying my photos than trying to read through my stories or blog posts. So I poured more into my photography, but writing was still there to support me.
For those reading this, you may be starting to wonder when my struggles with my creative identity began. I don’t have an exact time or date, but there was a season in my life where my perspective began to change. And I believe that this change was mainly fueled by two things: money and competition.
After college, I tried my hand at making photography my main profession. I was constantly on sites like Craigslist, trying to find photo jobs that paid well. I wanted to “make it” as a successful photographer, but the goal felt nearly impossible to achieve. To add to this pressure of wanting to be successful, I also began to fall into the seemingly endless trap of comparing myself to others. During this time of my life I was becoming more acquainted with other photographers and creators, and I began to see myself in a competition to prove that I was worthy of being a creative. I started looking at others and how they came into creativity, and I wondered if my story and skills were valid enough. It also didn’t help to be on any social media sites at this time (thankfully I’ve weened myself off of most).
This struggle with myself and my creativity continued on for a few years, and it hasn’t been until recently that I have started to feel at peace with my creative identity. My love and passion for writing and photography has gone through a rebirth over the last year, and I have started to feel more like myself again. I have been reclaiming my creative identity with each passing day, and more and more I have started to feel better about my journey. My artistic story is unique and valid in its own right, and I no longer feel like I have to prove it to anyone else. The power to propel my creative story is solely in my hands. And I hope to make it count.