Routinely I hear things such as “You are an author that has to be fun.” or “It must be nice getting paid to so something you love.” Those statements are true and following your passion does make life more fulfilling than I can begin to describe, but there are risks. We will get to what those are in just a minute.
Another thing I hear and used to wonder myself is this, “How can people who seemingly have it all, such as actors, musicians, and yes even famous authors, end their lives by their own hand?”
I think of individuals who brought so much greatness to us in such a short time and how much more they could have given. How many more great movies could Marilyn Monroe have made? How many more great songs could Jimmy Hendrix or Prince have created?
The answer to the two questions, what are the risks of following your passion and why have so many promising careers been cut short, is exactly the same.
This is a very important message that not only affects those in the creative field such as music, writing, fashion design, acting or any of the other creative arts, but also to anyone whose work involves great amounts of empathy. That includes doctors, funeral directors, psychologists, life coaches, and especially parents.
I first glimpsed this condition through paying attention to the love of my life. We are going to look at her story as an example, but by the end you will see how it can affect many others, including yourself.
Part of being a great spouse is not just responding to your partner’s physical and emotional states, but taking it to the next level. What I mean by that is learning them, and then anticipating them and taking action to make the best of the situation.
In this example my lady, who makes specialty and designer cakes, is always very exhausted and needs to rest for a period after she completes one of her masterpieces. Knowing this I do my best to not plan anything right after she is done and allow her to have that time she needs.
The other weekend she created 6 cakes in 2 days! Just baking and frosting that many cakes can be exhausting, but taking the time to plan, create and complete ones often with an insane amount of decorations is beyond my comprehension.
This is her passion, or at least one of them. She loves taking the idea of the customer; applying her creativity and coming up with a result that leaves them so happy they are at a loss for words. That is what makes her day.
So after doing that 6 times over she should have been so happy and bouncing off the walls right? Wrong. She needed a whole day just to recoup.
Just the other day I wrote some material that is some of the best stuff I have ever written. It will be featured in some upcoming magazines.
The words seem to come almost faster than I could type. Not only was I doing what my life purpose is, but I was inspired! It almost seemed effortless. After which time I felt so drained that I wanted to sleep for a week.
Have you ever sat down with someone close to you for a very personal conversation? Maybe solving a disagreement with a close friend? May be discussing a problem with your spouse?
Even if the results are positive, that is you solve the disagreement or get back to be a loving state with your partner, you feel drained. Why is that?
We may seem to be going in a million different directions, but the risk and solution to all of these examples above is the same. When you are involved in a creative occupation, when you are living your passion it is far different than your typical 9 to 5.
Whether you are creating the next fashion trend, writing the next great ballad, writing your next novel, or creating the perfect cake, you are putting a piece of your soul into it.
Think of the great actors you know, all of them get into their characters. Painters, musicians, authors and anyone else in the creative fields don’t just ‘make’ something, they create it. It is almost like they give birth to it. You have heard people refer to their creations as ‘their babies’.
When you are involved in other people’s emotions such as a funeral director comforting a family, a teacher giving your all to your students or a parent helping your children, you give a piece of your heart and soul into that.
Whenever you are involved in an emotional situation such as an intense discussion with a friend or spouse, a piece of you goes into that.
There would be no problem with that if you understand that and take time to heal. In the real world we often do not take the time to do this. In the arts we are told to ‘strike while the iron is hot’.
As long as you are doing good keep working, keep your name out there. In the process you give more and more pieces of your soul to the projects you are working on without taking time to let yourself heal. Pretty soon you have lost who you are.
That is why so many creative people who are so successful end up feeling disillusioned. They have given so much of themselves, that they have lost their soul.
This is not limited to the creative arts. Those whose careers involve a great deal of empathy encounter the same issue. If you have spent hours consoling a family who has just lost a loved one that takes a piece of you. Pouring your heart out, sharing emotions with someone you love requires you to give of yourself. It is so important we allow ourselves to heal so we can give again.
How do we heal? Take that time for yourself. It is different for everyone. Some meditate, some take a hot bath, walk in nature, read a book. Whatever makes you feel special take time for that.
Understand that others need that time as well. I am so lucky to be in a relationship with another creative soul who understands this.
If you know someone in the creative arts, or someone whose career requires great amount of emotional sacrifice, encourage them to take time for themselves and be understanding when they do.
It is my great hope that by doing so we will lose* less of our great contributors to drugs, alcohol and suicide.
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