This is Michelle. She is the kind of person who recognizes fantastic beauty in every little thing she exists with, and uses her creativity as an outlet for the resulting inspiration. Her brain is obviously one of the most loveliest places to live in in the world, vouched for by her Busy Badges project and the fact that she set up a moon and stars backdrop for a photo shoot one time and subjects would actually sit on the moon. This is what we asked her:
Q: Would you rather have an incredible talent that inspires people but not yourself or have an incredible talent that inspires you and no one else?
A: I’m going to try to break this down in a way that would make sense to another person.
I go on about how inspiring people drives me to create, but the reality is that this is only to the extent that I have found something that inspires people-- the truth is that I would never be able to continually produce something (long-term) that doesn’t inspire me, even if it changes lives.
So that’s the short version.
I honestly feel conflicted about that thought in the same way I feel conflicted about other contradictions in my nature. Recently I made a list of all the things I know about Michelle, and it felt really good to identify and validate those thoughts/emotions/traits for myself, but I came out with two very high priority needs that actually conflict in a lot of ways. Having never put them down on paper, I suppose I didn’t quite understand the inner struggle I’ve felt for years, but now it makes sense. Luckily, you’ll get the break down here because it completely relates to this question.
One of my primary needs/desires in life, historically, has been to be inspiring, useful, helpful... to the point-- necessary, not irreplaceable but not expendable either. There are varying degrees of this (for example, I’m not interested in being used and I honestly won’t engage in acts I don’t enjoy for too long, even if someone I love needs it), but for the most part it has held true throughout my life. It’s caused a lot of weird self-esteem issues.
That said, my prime motivation to live is to enjoy my experience (which also has varying degrees, for example, I’ll put myself in hateful situations just to experience it-- that’s part of enjoying life, to me: learning and understanding regardless of actual pleasure levels).
With that in mind, this question is very easy to answer: Obviously the second one.
But on the other hand, to walk away from something that I know will inspire/help others is really difficult for me. It makes me feel very selfish, and not in a justified way. Though I’m to the core a person who puts personal experience above basically anything else you could think of, that second level is consumed by the drive to help where I can, solve problems, put any skill I might have to a ‘greater good’ sort of use. If I have an ability or skill that might help people, why wouldn’t I use it that way? If you look at my shop prices you’ll understand how little I care about using my ‘gifts’ to make money. I have to sell lots of zines to offset other prices! (Gratefully, I do.)
These two create several conflicts in my life already, so I can see how they would with this decision, too!
In the end, I think I have lived with that struggle, and (in terms of those self-esteem issues I mentioned) with accepting that I could even possibly be useful in any capacity… so I think that I would prefer a lifetime of continuing through that struggle by enjoying what I do, rather than a lifetime of that stale, uninspired lump residing in my throat any time I try to force creativity. I wouldn’t see any reason to create or do my best otherwise.
In some ways, I think my current projects already answer this question. I launch ideas to the public, do projects for myself (that may inspire others) without sharing them, and all the while talk through my process on my blog. I’ve made lots of kits and zines and cycled through many different ideas that have not had any response, or very little. (To be clear, some have had response, but I’m focusing more on the ones that haven’t at the moment.) I still do them. I still produce that content and make those things, because even though they might be geared towards inspiring other people, and yet don’t, they inspire me! It’s difficult to keep my hands busy if I’m not passionate about the process.
I know that was a very long-winded way to say the answer three times, but I think to understand me and what’s going on underneath, it’s important to see that I do have an internal struggle going on almost constantly. Often I’ll choose one side, sometimes the other, but when it comes to something as personal and intense as creativity, I think I would have to side with myself.