You, dear artist, are a brave soul! No one knows better than an artist about what it takes to grapple with the uncertainty and still continue to show up, to create, or to perform. Despite all the ups and downs, the victories and the defeats, the success and the failures that come with the artistic career, you are still here. Even when you don’t know what might happen next, you are devoted to making your art.
But now, the uncertainty has taken a new dimension. It’s a dimension you’ve never been faced with before. The uncertainty, until now, was a grounded uncertainty. It was grounded in the known world. Now, the world has new limits, barriers, and restrictions. The world is always marked by change, but this is like nothing anyone has ever seen.
The unknown is looming... You may feel lost, wondering what’s next. What will you do? Where do you fit? How do you go on as an artist? You’re used to a world that is uncertain, but how do you navigate this kind of uncharted uncertainty?
How can you find your way through the new uncertainty and continue to make choices that are consistent with who you are and what you want to create?
It’s easy to lose yourself when circumstances become chaotic and unpredictable. Now, more than ever, this is the time to take a moment and reconnect with who you are as an artist.
What makes you tick? What do you want to create? What is your meaning and purpose as an artist? What inspires you? What keeps you connected to your creative energy? These are just a few questions that can help you stay in touch with your unique, artistic self.
When you’re grounded in your own strengths and power, weakness and humane limitations, as an artist, you’ll be able to make your way through these uncharted times. Rooted in your own artistic identity, you’ll know what to do and what you can express through your art.
And, by staying grounded in who you are, you can also get in touch with parts of you that have lain dormant, and only now are ready to be awakened and expressed.
Maybe that part of you that is an advocate awakens to assert through your art. Or that part of you that is compassionate and wants to express humanity through your art so others feel seen, heard and validated. Perhaps the worrier in you is now rekindled and is ready to stand up to fear through your art. Or, perhaps your humor is ready to really emerge and you can bring ease and laughter to others.
Now more than ever is time to stay in touch with your own truth and use that truth to connect and persevere. This is how you’ll find your way through this great unknown.
This new uncertainty can bring unexpected, powerful, big feelings. Fears and doubts like you’ve never experienced before can start to emerge. Feelings that have challenged you in the past may come back stronger than ever.
Be gentle to yourself and allow your feelings to be with you. Acknowledge what’s difficult, what challenges you, and what scares you or terrifies you. Validated feelings keep you active, alive, and fully engaged with your humanity. When you can allow your feelings, they actually help you engage with life and can help shape your art.
Fear and doubts are real, but you don’t have to stay stuck in them or let them take over. Fear and doubts are a sign that you need to act from that grounded inner space of your true artistic self, now. Do something constructive, healthy, or helpful with these feelings.
You don’t have to like or accept your feelings. But, when you can be aware of them and let them come and go, you can use them to keep yourself connected with this reality and to make art that matters.
Denied feelings have a way of showing up in deceiving, indirect, and unhealthy ways. Unacknowledged feelings come back stronger and are more likely to hold you prisoner or to push you to act up in ways you might not otherwise make. When you ignore your feelings away, you deny yourself the power to create from real, big, authentic emotion that results in unique, true art.
There is a difference between engaging and acting with purpose, meaning, compassion for the purpose of creating and bringing value or acting up lost or paralyzed in fears or doubts.
Acknowledged feelings keep you connected to your life energy and humanity. These feelings are the material that make up the fabric of your art. When you’re honest and vulnerable about your feelings you can more readily give and receive help when it’s needed. Your feelings, difficult as they may be, can connect with your audience and take you and others through the messiness of the present. As a performer, you can really understand the depth of certain emotional experiences to help you act more authentically when it’s time to get back in front of a crowd.
You may be surprised how staying with your feelings can bring new and deeper connections, meaning, new ways of making your art and moving forward.
Now, more than ever, it is the time to be with and acknowledge your feelings. Validated feelings keep you engaged, active, and alive. Your feelings help you create, connect, and manifest life! Let your feelings pave your way forward.
While this big uncertainty is unfolding and many of your choices are gone, how can you exercise choice? Yes, these are challenging times right now. It’s true that you can’t do what you’ve done before. You’re right when you say you don’t know when and how you’ll be back to your life as you know it.
But, it’s also true that you can choose how to move through what’s coming.
What can you choose at this moment? Can you choose courage? Can you choose humanity? Can you choose to express love? Can you choose to make meaning and devote yourself to learning? Can you choose to reach out? To connect? To show up for you or others in ways you have never done before? Can you choose to turn this crisis into an opportunity?
Now, more than ever, it’s time to choose courage, hope, compassion, and connection. This is the time to choose and stay in touch with the best parts of who you are. This is the time to choose to express life! Uncertain times can bring out the worst in people, but you can choose to let your best self lead you forward.
Now, more than never, the world needs you, the artist. You have the power to speak, touch, validate, and assert, through your art. Art is the universal language that takes down walls, penetrates barriers, and can connect to universal humanity, to unite us all and help us move forward together.
If you need help to keep yourself in this moving through this time of disruption and uncertainty, please reach out for help. You may not see your friends, colleagues, and your usual community right now, but vibrant online communities are offering support for many artists right now.
You might also find that you need to turn to a professional help to cope with the feelings of anxiety and depression that are emerging in these challenging times. During periods of social distancing, many therapists and counselors are seeing clients online to help. They can guide in the right direction.
I’m a psychotherapist working with creatives and performers in Los Angeles. I’m here to share a story to help and inspire creatives.
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