When I was 10 years old, I had a teacher who decided it was a good idea to put the word “eccentric” on my personal record. I would never had found out about this, had it not been a rainy day when all of the class was inside and my personal record was open on the desk. Her bowels turned to liquid the moment I saw her after lunch and said: “I’m eccentric, am I?” I remember the blood draining from her face as she realised she had left my record open on the desk for all to see…including myself.
For years, that one comment, written in ballpoint pen, haunted me. I’d been called “weird” by my classmates…but to have an adult say it (especially one in a position of prominence in my life)…it must a)be true and b)also be a really, really bad thing. So I let it rattle around in my head for years and years, and instead of embracing the fact that being eccentric could actually be a good thing, I let it erode my confidence and my interactions with other people. As I got older, however, I discovered that being a little bit “different” in other people’s eyes is actually a good thing. I used to get bullied for being interested in computers, and now they’re commonplace, and as a result of being an early adopter of personal computing in the 1980s I was able to jump on the social media zeitgeist early as well.
Why am I telling you my personal sob story about being the “weird kid”? Because so many of us out there were the “weird kids” growing up. We were the ones who were bullied for what was deemed socially “uncool”, the things our peers (and sometimes family members) didn’t understand. Quite often, it’s the creatives, dreamers and entrepreneurs of this world who have had to endure the pain of being isolated for what they love and who they are. I love this quote from George R.R. Martin (when Tyrion is giving counsel to Jon Snow):
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
Whether you’re in the process of making your first film, working on a fledgling business, or trying to make your life better after tragedy, know this- you matter. Birthing anything into the world can be a lonely process, filled with doubt, regardless of the medium or purpose. There will be some friends and family who don’t understand what you’re doing. Well-meaning people will tell you “horror stories” to try and make you “see sense”. Sometimes, you will walk the path alone- it’s your path to walk, nobody else’s. There’s a reason for that, and it’s got nothing to do with your inherent worth. Remember (and I’m about to geek out on you again here) in The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda was instructing Luke, and Luke had to enter the cave by himself? Exactly. Did he end up alone at the end of the film? Nope. He was alone again *SPOILER ALERT* when Rey meets up with him at the end of Ep VII, but again there would have been a reason for him to be alone, because that was yet another point on his journey where he needed to tread the path on his own.
Believe in yourself and your dream. First and foremost, you need to be your own cheerleader. When others see how much you believe in what you are doing, and how passionate you are about it, that’s when you start to open doors.
The world needs you. Whether you’re writing your first novel, teaching drama to underprivileged children, or composing a score for a film, we need the creatives, entrepreneurs and dreamers of the world to help make the world less lonely, less bland. And yes, there have been times throughout my journey where I have had dark teatimes of the soul, times when it seemed easier to tap out than to continue…but if you get into a similar situation, ask yourself: if I quit today, what will tomorrow look like? In my case, I couldn’t bear to think about a tomorrow that didn’t involve working in the film industry. I just couldn’t. It was a lifelong love, and would physically hurt if I quit. Things have been tough, but I’ve taken it one day at a time and kept going.
So, why did I choose to write about this, instead of a post about social media marketing, filmmaking or publicity? Because sometimes you just need to hear that there are other people out there that have gone through the same things you have. Sometimes, you need to know that other people “get” the creative struggle. Let this be your sign that you are seen and heard…and that you matter.