For those of us in a creative job (and who isn't these days) anxiety is part of the work. Creative expression always comes with vulnerability: you open yourself and your work up to the judgement of others. Naturally this creates anxiety. That's why many creative people are more prone to depression and burnout. In this blog we explain why that's o.k. and how it can be used as a force for good.
In today's world we are all producers of our own content. Whether we post things on social media or produce things like vlogs, music, film, blogs, books or other works of art and communication, we have unprecedented access to spreading our material to other people. Those of us who work in the performing arts know that anxiety is part of that game. We learn to embrace it, we know it never goes away (even after a thousand performances I still get nervous as hell...) and we teach ourselves how this anxiety can be used to enhance our creative output.
Yet many people who do creative work in this modern age are not used to this kind of vulnerability. For them the negative effects of it - such as writer's block, short depressions after the work is finished and anxiety before posting or performing - are new and very scary.
Those of us who are used to this situation already know that this fear will subside. But those who have never dealt with it before can be caught off guard by all forms of creative anxiety. This can lead to burnout symptoms and depression, mostly related to expectations.
To reduce stress and anxiety in the creative fields we need to teach more people about how hard it can be to truly express yourself. It's not an easy path to choose. The road to creative mastery is full of peril and confrontation with ones' weaknesses. That's the point really: by being vulnerable you learn how to become strong. You purposely go this road to make yourself stronger, or else there would be no point suffering through the anxiety!
Plus, being vulnerable and showing how you overcome challenges makes people relate to your work. It's a paradox: the more you acknowledge the vulnerability, the more people will applaud you and the more success you are likely to get. Storytelling and creative expression are about embracing conflict and friction, not avoiding it. If it were about sticking that head in the sand, it would be boring!
So to all people who cope with creative anxiety I say this: accept it, it will never really go away. If you get stuck, lower your expectations and go Kaizen. If you feel down or frustrated, remember that having those feelings and conquering them is the whole point!
True strength is in showing and embracing your vulnerable side. That's what people will remember and appreciate.
And take it easy. Love