Creative Loneliness is a stage that I think most, if not all of us Creatives, go through as we’re starting our journey to do what we have a passion for as a living. In this post, I’m going to touch on where it comes from and what you can do about it.
What is Creative Loneliness?
Many of us creatives want to talk about important things. Whether it’s about life in general, politics, being fit, money, relationships, etc., these are the topics that most of us Creatives build careers on.
But, funnily enough, many of our friends and family don’t engage in that typical discussion. And, if they do, they typically keep it very tight and don’t share it with the general population.
At first, they probably won’t understand why we have a sudden urge (at least to them) to make our “passion” a major part of our lives.
This difference in view points can cause, what I call, creative loneliness.
I was first hit with creative loneliness back in my early days in LTD. As I was getting more interested in sharing the opportunity, I found more and more people that were very weary of what I had to offer. I just couldn’t grasp why people thought I was the crazy one.
I had always been interested in topics that formal education tries to get away from as far as possible. The reason I had this interest was because some of the best discussions I’ve had have been with close friends or family on these topics. They made an impact on those of us in the conversation.
A lot of those conversations were ones that “shouldn’t be had at the dinner table”. I saw this new opportunity as a similar discussion.
Why wouldn’t they want the opportunity to have a better future?
When I started engaging people with the opportunity to join LTD, for whatever reason, it just didn’t make sense to them. Were they wondering why I wanted to do my own thing? Were they thinking that they weren’t capable of doing something that didn’t have a guaranteed outcome? I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons. And, at the time, I wasn’t very good at addressing them.
Later, as I became a graduate student, I came to find out that a lot of people weren’t having the deep conversations that I was used to in the first place. And when I engaged them about LTD, they literally freaked. They had been brainwashed to think that certain topics were taboo and not to be discussed.
This was another issue all together. One that I would later find out wasn’t really something I could do much about.
However, in the meantime, it sure did make me feel alienated and alone.
In an effort to fit in still, I tried to cover this loneliness up with spending lots of time entertaining myself. Trying to not deal with the confusion I had about being accepted but at the same time, wanting to help others.
Maybe you might feel that as well?
In retrospect, I can see how I was addicted to social media, video games, TV, and other time killers. (And even those things made the situation worse… as they’re designed to.)
I became in love with “stuff.” Things that took my mind off of things that truly mattered. Eventually, becoming a shell of myself and finding excuses not to be like the person I know I could be.
Unfortunately, that’s how our creativity dies. We believe that no one cares – so why even bother expressing ourselves?
This internal conflict can lead to eventual chronic depression or realizing that we are the ones that have to wake the others up about our particular message through our Gift.
In reality, we don’t have much of an option. Like all the Creator’s before us, it’s our responsibility to do what we’re here to do. I just simply say this: Let’s just do it in a way that truly adds value to people instead of playing off of their weaknesses.
How to be a less lonely Creator.
So, we’ve identified the problem of being a lonely creator, let’s a look at what you can do about it.
But first, let’s make sure that you are one. I don’t want you to mistake being lonely with something that’s not necessarily a bad thing or something that’s a much worse thing.
First off, we don’t want to confuse being lonely with solitude. Loneliness doesn’t come from having no one around. It comes from being unable to communicate with othersthe simple things that are important to you.
In it’s simplest form, we can say that loneliness is when you are unhappy to be alone. Solitude is when you are happy to be alone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to, or enjoying being alone. Perhaps you’re an introvert and actually get energy from alone time. I mean, it can be useful and enjoyable! The key in enjoying solitude, I think, is staying actively engaged. Don’t be passive.
Engaging activities to do when you want to be by yourself include:
- Working out and being active.
- Learning a new skill (cooking, marketing practices, copywriting, etc. – something that a future version of yourself would know how to do)
- Being your Creative Self by writing your first book, working on your site, recording that podcast, or making a tutorial video!
- Meditation (totally possible to do through yard work I’ve found out.)
Secondly, if you feel sad, overwhelmingly “empty” feelings and/or just generally have a feeling of “What’s the point? No one will care.” attitude, then you might just be chronically depressed. This is nothing to take lightly.
Other symptoms might include:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Decreased energy
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
If any of these ring a bell, then you might be depressed. Please consult this WebMD guide to get help asap. You might want to also contact your doctor or family physician as well.
If the solitude and depression don’t describe you, then you might just be creatively lonely.
The main difference between creative loneliness and regular loneliness is that you’ve essentially chosen to not hang out with those who don’t understand what you’re trying to create. In fact, they might perceive you as weirdo or a threat to their ego.
Let them be themselves. You can’t change them… they can only change themselves.
However, you can change your actions and your environment. Here are a few ideas in how to do that:
- Join an Online Skill Development Community that can help you further your skills in what you’re trying to do. If you’re having issues in making a decision in what group might be right for you, you can always choose a couple – but I would suggest not being active in more than 5. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. I would include Fizzle as one of these communities. There’s also free ones all over the web, but, I feel they aren’t as organized or focused.
- Join a Online Support Community that can help you get over any problems you might currently have. While Fizzle and other groups might help you with your future, you might have a vice that’s keeping you back. Game Quitters, founded by Cam Adair, is an example for those who have a gaming addiction. You, personally, might have other addictions you need to get over so that you can truly chase your true passions. Cam informed me that there’s also a porn addiction help community on reddit, if that’s something you might be struggling with too.
- Join any offline meet ups in your local area that seem like a match to your message. If there isn’t any notable ones, start one! (Just make sure to do it in a populated area. I mean, you have to give yourself a chance for people to show up.) Make sure you advertise your group online. You gotta let them know it exists.
- Get a pet (or 2!). If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be alone quite awhile getting your thoughts down and doing work. However, there’s nothing like a pet in your workspace that will help you get your mind off of being alone. Whenever you’re having a brain fart, they’ll know it and expect you to either play with them or let them out. Personally, I have two so that they can keep each other busy at times. Unfortunately, one seems to always be sleeping in my office when I’m trying to record the podcast. If Michael O’Neal doesn’t mind his dog Dexter making noise in the background of his chats… that’s his call. I really don’t need snoring in the background of mine! 🙂
- Make it a point to get around those that challenge you! As you’ve probably heard, you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. The more time you can spend with people who have achieved what you want to, the higher chance you’ll have in reaching that goal.
This Week’s Challenge (Is that a better term than Homework?):
So this week, let’s work on any loneliness issues that you might have. For one, just realize you’re not the first one that this has happened to. Just because you’re trying to improve your life, doesn’t mean that others around you will. In fact, they might simply get jealous. Expect it. It’s normal. You’re making them feel uneasy about themselves.
Next, join a group that’s relative to what you’re message is. Start getting your voice out there. Remember that the expert space is collaborative. Just because you might have the same topic as someone else, doesn’t mean you’re a competitor with them.
Remember, we’re not trying to kill all your alone time. We’re just trying to give you outlets to go to when you don’t want to be alone.
If you’ve already done this challenge, let us know below how you were able to overcome it.