Humans don’t naturally like to be uncomfortable. We want to retreat to safety and the familiar. Whether it is speaking in public or joining a new group or expressing an opinion or changing jobs or doing something different artistically, we resist the discomfort. It’s easier and safer to keep low, to not let people know our aspirations, to not reach for that prize. After all, then no one will tell us that’s silly and we can’t do that.
Most of us have a little voice inside that tells us “Stop. Don’t do that. The risk isn’t worth it. Remember that time you did something like this and you were really embarrassed?” That voice is trying to help us do what it thinks is best for us, that is, staying on the safest path. That is a type of self-preservation. But that voice doesn’t look at the bigger picture. Sometimes discomfort is not bad. It may often be exactly what we need.
If we stay in our comfort zone we never try anything new; we do not get out of our rut. We do not grow and develop. We do not experience all we should in life. We can get to the end of our days and look back with regret on the dreams we were never brave enough to pursue. Pursuing and accomplishing are different things. We may not write the next Great American Novel, but the attempt will teach us a lot and help us discover things about ourself. We may never become a celebrated musician, but the study brings us a lot of discipline and satisfaction. We may never become wealthy and famous as an artist, but the path expands our creativity and skill.
Safety says to stay home and watch TV. Our creative urge tells us to get off the couch, pick up our camera (or whatever creative device you use) and get outside and make something. Sitting on the couch is easy. No risk. No failure. Going out to create something is hard. It requires thought and it risks “failure”. I believe there is no comparison, though. Long term, TV will rot your brain and your self-esteem. Making things will make you a better person. Not inspired? Get to work. Inspiration comes while you are working, not while you are sitting around thinking “creative thoughts.”
Failing is not a bad thing. Failing is not trying. Failing may mean you reached for something you weren’t ready for yet. Keep growing, learning, developing your skills and your curiosity. Someday you may get there. Or maybe not. Either way, you satisfied that longing inside yourself and you became a better person.