By NICK MACCARONE
Originally published on Medium.com
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams
The 18th century writer and statesman Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times.”
At least that was the first half of his observation.
So then, how does one convince someone to steer themselves from a tweet, post, or text long enough to give attention to your take on the world?
It’s a tall order, no doubt, especially in a culture where detachment is as casual as Fridays.
We hear but no longer listen.
We see but don’t observe.
We communicate but real connection is too scary.
We record our lives rather than live them.
And what about those “communities” we do seek out?
How often do places masquerading as forums of fellowship end up just being a group of people who see the world as we do?
We cluster in echo chambers where the dins of our inflexible thoughts grow louder, drowning out reminders of all we don’t know.
But if we’re willing to illuminate our ignorance there is an opportunity to learn from one another and rediscover our shared humanity.
The world is well-supplied with information but starving for wisdom.
Within seconds we know the 7-day forecast in San Francisco, the elevation of Kilimanjaro, or the day the Titanic sank.
We can find out who said what about who, which restaurants to avoid, and when the new upgrade for the old toy we didn’t need to begin with hits stores.
But none of this deepens our understanding of people or what it means to fulfill a singular type of Being.
Some of the smartest people I’ve ever known wouldn’t know the first thing about being there for a friend who’s tumbled into an abyss of heartache.
And some of my wisest friends can’t put together a spreadsheet.
My point is, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, but something YOU know has the potential to improve another’s life.
That’s what the world needs now more than ever.
“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it most together. They are much more like you than you would believe, so try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” — Anne Lamott
Just as you are, your neighbor is looking for someone with a quiet courage to remind them their pain, doubts, triumphs, are woven deeply into the fabric of our shared human experience.
Why not shorten the learning curve of another soul stumbling through life with all you’ve learned?
Because no matter your age, cultural background, or whether you worship a thousand gods or no gods, nobody sees the world quite like you.
As author Anne Lamott observed, “Every single thing that happened to you is yours and you get to tell it.”
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve had an experience and lived a life, however long or imperfect, someone somewhere can learn from.
The first step is believing as much.
Here are 3 Ways to Trust You Have Something Worth Writing About
Don’t Shortchange Your Skill Set or Experiences
“Use your struggle to help someone else get stronger.”
Several months back, a student of mine casually mentioned she sketched traditional Pakistani mendhi designs in her spare time. I asked if she’d mind sharing her artwork with the class before a lecture one afternoon.
After a minute, she had the class in the palm of her hand. Nearly everyone, including myself, wanted to know how we could learn more.
I considered letting her teach class that day.
Another student who’d struggled with bouts of depression after the passing of her mother, brought in a therapy dog. She told the class how her little companion had helped lift the fog of darkness her life had become.
Her vulnerability and openness won the class over, offering an unspoken solace that we don’t need to navigate through life as mere bystanders of our despondency.
The point is, what may seem old hat to you may blow someone else’s mind.
Your talents, experiences, and the struggles you came through are not just for you.
Our victories and failures don’t always make us better but they never leave us quite the same.
And though the past may be a terrible master, it is a remarkable teacher.
Find your truth and recognize your capacity to influence.
Write About What Interests You
“We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape.” — John O’Donohue
Several months back when I started sharing my work on Medium, I tried writing articles on entrepreneurship because that’s what I thought readers wanted.
I talked about the pitfalls, perils, and triumphs of gradually building a business from the ground up.
The trouble was, it felt inauthentic. My heart, as it always does, somehow knew it was being duped.
The truth was, I had no credibility in that space. What’s worse, I didn’t trust my knowledge came through a very different, but equally valuable lens of the world.
And the minute I stopped writing what I thought others wanted to hear, but about topics and experiences I felt worth illuminating, the whole process became much more enjoyable.
I felt liberated to do work I found meaningful without the angst of having to kowtow to the blogging gatekeepers.
Instead of being consumed with the number of claps, shares, or names added to my subscriber list, I tried to throw myself whole-heartedly into the wondrous chaos of thoughts, ideas, and desires I felt worth sharing.
Too often we misinterpret losing our zest for life with falling prey to some small interpretation of how life ought to be lived.
And because writing is just another way of Being in the world, I’ve found the same rules often apply.
Share courageously about what interests YOU.
Avoid Depending on Validation from Others
“Base yourself on what you feel, even when you alone feel it.” — Henri Michaux
It’s never been more difficult to start and finish your day without feeling wholly inadequate.
We are constantly besieged with an artillery of snapshots and ads of what beach we should be on, car we should drive, or the 3 numbers we should see when we step on a scale.
If we’re not especially conscious, life can quickly become one big mood swing.
This is why being yourself today is not as courageous as it is revolutionary.
Comparing ourselves and seeking validation from others is a natural inclination but it’s also a way of harassing our singular spirits.
As author Fabrice Midal observed, “We convince ourselves we stand out from the crowd by buying this particular car, wearing these shoes, carrying this bag, or going to this restaurant. But all we’re really doing is following the flock, contributing even more to the dictatorship of general uniformity.”
I’ve discovered the way to escape the need for testimony your writing is acceptable to the world, is by caring more about the people you help rather than the recognition you receive.
When you write about topics that matter to you, no matter how well received, the process somehow becomes its own reward.
Writing on subjects you care about also expands your imaginative intelligence and somehow does the same for others.
By the way, the second half of Wolfgang von Goethe’s observation, “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times,” was the following:
“but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, until they take root in our personal experience.”
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