A couple months ago, a young girl came up to me and handed me a business card that said only, “You matter.”
I’d never met her before, and I haven’t seen her since, but I appreciated the reminder. Today, I’m here to remind you that, even if you feel like the world is ending, your art matters – and you matter. Consider this your virtual “You matter” card.
For many of us creatives, the weeks since the election have been emotionally devastating, and it can be hard to find the motivation and concentration to create. Maybe you’re even questioning what the point is of your creative project. With the way the world’s going, why bother?
But making art isn’t frivolous; it’s more important than ever to share the stories that only you can tell, because we all need to learn about people who are different than ourselves. As creatives, we can share our unique experiences and perspectives. Your voice matters. By creating, you’re showing the world that you know that. You won’t be silenced. You’ll speak up for people like yourself, and for people who aren’t like you.
It’s a brave thing you do, and vital.
You matter, and that means you need to take care of yourself, mind and body. As we head into the new year, practice self-care that will allow you to continue making your art: tend to your spirit, and be kind to your body.
Take Care of You – Because You Matter
Take steps to de-stress
Take a deep breath. Now. Do it again. Doesn’t that feel good?
Seek the emotional support you need, whether that’s with family, friends, or community.
Let go of any guilt you feel for missed creative work time. None of us are perfect.
If you have burnout, allow yourself time to recover. Don’t push yourself before you’re ready.
And exercise. I know you don’t feel like it (because I don’t), but it’s an amazingly effective way to lower your stress and combat anxiety.
Treat your body like it’s irreplaceable – because it is (at least for now ;) )
Making art uses a lot of mental energy; get the sleep you need. The art will come easier when you’re well-rested. Even if you suffer from insomnia (I do!), give yourself the chance to rest by going to bed early enough that you could get seven or eight hours of sleep.
Pay attention to how your body feels. Take breaks from the computer (especially if you also work a desk job). Stand up and stretch. Install f.lux if you work on the computer in the evening (you can turn it off for color-sensitive work). If you’re stuck on a thorny challenge, try taking a ten-minute walk.
Celebrate what you accomplished last year
Did you accomplish most of your creative goals for 2016? Congratulate yourself for staying dedicated to your creative work despite your regular commitments, despite whatever stress you’re feeling.
Maybe you’ve barely touched your project in months. Celebrate what you have made – and celebrate that you’ve declared your ambition (even if it’s only in your head yet). It takes guts to admit you have a dream as daunting as writing a book or drawing a comic or painting a mural. And when you feel like you can again, make.
Honor your dream
Your dream matters, because you matter. Prove it to yourself. Prove it to the world. Fulfill your dream, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve done, because you deserve that amount of hard work and dedication. Create.
Take care of yourself, and accomplish your dream.
Because your art matters.
And you matter.
Originally written as a NaNoWriMo pep talk.