I wrote this to my amazing rogue artist family on Patreon today and wanted to share it with all of you.
We are still waiting on test results for COVID and I am convinced we do not have it, but there is no way to be sure until we get the results.
It is interesting to me, finding myself at this moment where I feel so run down, and not well, with this lingering thought in the air of “Do I have it?”
We don’t feel well, yet we’re not exhibiting many of the severe symptoms, which is great. The symptoms we do have are not constant such as chills and headaches… Although fatigue and body aches seem to go from extreme to not so extreme.
I made the mistake of reading some news about the situation out there in outside land and a sense of sadness took over.
Humans are such beautiful creatures who can accomplish extraordinary things when they stand together in that beauty… Yet everyone seems so divided right now…
I am holding back the tears in my eyes as I write this…
Maybe I’m feeling the effects of the fatigue and right now is NOT the time to be reading any world news. Especially because I have not been creating an outlet for myself of my art.
I always feel that by creating beauty, empowering people, and expressing how beautiful and amazing we all are – it’s my way of adding light into a world that seems to have a shadow looming… If everyone understood how absolutely amazing they were, they wouldn’t power struggle to be better than someone else… No one is better, we are all beautiful and uniquely perfect at being who we are, which is an ever-changing, ever-evolving thing that grows and blooms as we experience this crazy thing called life.
I don’t know… Part of my brain says “You are so full of crap Rafi, nothing you do is meaningful, nothing you do has an effect on anything.” Luckily, I don’t buy into that voice.
Sure, everyone may not find it meaningful, but I feel that everything we do impacts the world. Just existing and breathing has an impact on the world around you.
It’s like walking into a room where someone has been stewing in anger and you can FEEL the tension in the room… We can FEEL others joy, sadness, hopefulness, anger, fear… and it is contagious.
Right now I feel sadness, but less so than I felt before I started writing this. I may not be creating art right now, but I am creating this… expressing my empowerment and ability to understand that even the smallest flicker of light can shine bright in the darkness.
We all can shine bright in the darkness with the smallest flicker of hope and love. We can cultivate that flicker into a flame and eventually a burst of light as powerful as the sun… and it all resides within us… Imagine knowing that everyone can somehow feel that, and that light is contagious.
Love… Hope… Feeling empowered… Feeling beautiful… And knowing that we are all a force of nature.
Yeah… I definitely need to get back to painting and creating soon 🙂
I have been told on occasion that I’m so lucky to be able to live the life I live. Someone sees a snapshot of my life as an artist on social media and thinks that is the whole picture. As if everything is easy and just sunshine and rainbows float around my life. The truth isn’t as glamorous.
I try to be as honest and authentic as I can be with any content that I share with the world, but even then you are only getting part of the picture. In a world saturated with smiley faces and picture-perfect snapshots of everyone else’s life, it is easy to think that you are alone in feeling unhappy.
We all have our moments. When you see a picture of me creating a work of art, you don’t see all the insecurity, doubt, and worries I may have at the moment. When you see a picture of me smiling, there is no way to know if I have lingering doubts in the background of my mind.
Back to back questions can fill my head like “Am I going to have enough money to pay the bills this month? Do my children hate me? Can I pull off this next art project even though I feel like an impostor? Am I doing enough to promote myself? Why do I feel so invisible? Why am I so fat? YouTube is probably slowing down because I’m old and ugly? Aaaaaarg!”
You know… I woke up this morning feeling unmotivated and defeated. The book is eating up a huge portion of my life right now, and my days are spent sitting on the couch typing. I can easily get overwhelmed trying to balance writing a book and running my entire art and media business. Throw a small wrench into the mix like a water pipe bursting over your bed and all of a sudden it seems like the end of the world.
No matter how wonderful someone’s life may seem, we all have insecurities creep up, we all feel overwhelmed sometimes, and we all have things we are afraid of.
This morning, I feel like I’m a failure at my art business, YouTube, Patreon, and life. I hardly make any income from all the work I put into a lot of online platforms and I have to wonder if I’m wasting my time. Am I wasting my time writing this blog? I feel like I’m letting everyone who believes in me down and everything I create is crap.
From art to podcast, to videos, to life choices, to writing, to everything I do, it all feels like crap. I feel like everything I try to do is harder than it should be, and I feel isolated and alone.
Listen, I’m not sharing this with you because I think my life sucks or anything. I also don’t want you to think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I just want you to know that you are not alone, we ALL have days where our thoughts are less than satisfied with our lives. We all have those moments where we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. No matter how wonderful you think someone’s life is, I guarantee that daily, they may have something they are struggling with.
I think the reason I keep going with everything is a stubborn determination to smile. I don’t quit. I know that at some point during the day, I’m going to discourage myself. I know that there is a huge possibility that I’m going to call myself names. I am probably going to worry about the future and make myself feel bad about the choices I’ve made.
I know that a part of me will do whatever it takes to keep me comfortable, small, and hopeless. That is a safe place to be because you don’t take risks from that place. You don’t put yourself and your ideas out there if you feel that you don’t matter. My brain will do whatever it can to protect me from rejection or failure… even go as far as saying some really hurtful stuff in my own head and heart.
Insecurities are complex and hard to describe. We all have them, and they are all different and multifaceted.
I just don’t buy into mine as often as I used to, and when I do… I remind myself that when you are about to make a breakthrough, that’s when the negative voices in your head get louder and more desperate. I also don’t give myself any labels that are damaging. You may be feeling depressed, but you are not depressed, it is a momentary feeling.
We all go through this, and we all deal with it in our own way. I channel my emotions into all my creations and find a way to feel empowered by the experience.
Some commiserate with each other, some find a way to smile despite all the setbacks and some rise above the crap. Some choose to believe in themselves and focus on their life, and others compare their lives to what they assume others are experiencing.
It is after the experience, where I have faced the worst of it that you may see a picture of me smiling on social media. Shit happens, life can feel like it sucks, and times can be tough, but you get to determine how you respond to all of it. If your day sucks, then so be it, but don’t isolate yourself by thinking you’re the only one.
I share this with you because I think you’ve got this. I’ve got this… we can be heroes of our own story. We can all be champions of our own life… Just gotta choose to be awesome and roll with the punches.
I have been very busy lately juggling a full-time art career, YouTube media studio, weekly podcasts, commissions, writing a book, art shows, giving presentations, gearing up for the holiday season and maintaining a happy & healthy relationship with my wife Klee. She is running her side of the business as well, and it is easy for both of us to get lost in the overwhelm of to-do lists, meetings, and deadlines.
First off, I’m not moaning about how busy I am. Often when someone complains about being too busy, it is actually a thinly veiled boast disguised as a complaint. I have, admittedly, worn the “busy badge” in the past during moments of insecurity. This is where you make it a point to illustrate how your life cannot possibly be silly, trivial, or meaningless because you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
The problem with all that boasting is that it has a tendency to make you feel even busier than you are. Us humans tend to believe the things we tell ourselves, while also inadvertently making others feel overwhelmed too. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t helping to gripe about it, in fact, it was making the overwhelm worse. Besides, if you’re genuinely that busy… are you sure you can spare the time to be bitching about it?
Another unhealthy way I started to give into “being busy” was paying too much attention to the rapid pace that the world seemed to be heading in. I began realizing that the urgency-addicted culture that I lived in was having a huge impact on the way I lived my day to day life, and that was an eye-opener for me. I was convinced that just a bit more speed, time, productivity and I could stay in control. I started to grow unwilling to tolerate the discomfort of slowing down. Taking a break, even a small one, even for good reason, started to seem unproductive.
When you find yourself on this treadmill of urgency, it can feel unacceptable to slow down. As it turns out, the idea that you need to go full throttle all the time is completely unproductive. Your mind and body need breaks from what you are doing or you will end up burning out pretty quickly. I now take a 15 to 30 minute break every 2 hours, even during the busiest workdays. Believe or not, I get so much more done now than I did when I pushed through, and my days are less stressful and much more enjoyable.
A to-do list can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a trackable list of tasks that fuels the ambition of getting completion in a day, but adding one more item to the list feels effortless, so it’s dangerously easy to over-commit. I feel like I used to have lists that were a mile long, and when I didn’t complete them, I felt like a failure that day. I then went into the next day feeling like I was already behind.
I now have a cap on my daily to-do. Instead of an open-ended list, I only allow myself to schedule 5 items for the day. If I complete the items on my list, then I’ll add additional stuff that is small and easy to do. If I do not finish my list, I add the incompleted items to the top of the next day. I also have a Fantastic 4 list that I write about in my book, but that involves special tasks that are designed to break large overwhelming projects into tiny chunks.
Most importantly, remember that life is short and you don’t want to spend these precious days feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. It is something I remind myself of every day as I sit silently for ten minutes, battling the voices that like to say I’m being unproductive.
Give those voices the middle finger, and enjoy your day.
There are six things that I look at whenever I find myself floundering in my career or in life. These are six things that I take a close look at when I think to myself “I should do that thing” and another side of me says “but…”
Most people think that I am full steam ahead, have endless amounts of energy and am able to somehow warp time and space. They say things like “Rafi is the hardest working artist I know.” If I’m not careful, this kind of vision of myself can become a badge of honor and I would become the hardest working artist out there, which honestly would be a total drag.
I don’t want to be the hardest working anything. In fact, I don’t want to work hard, I don’t want anything I do to be hard work in the traditional sense, I want it to be fun.
I think one of the reasons things seem like hard work for most people is because, for the most part, we are not being chased by lions anymore. Stress, anxiety, and a plethora of other emotions are tied up in this little thing we do when we go into fight or flight. It is a natural response to danger. The problem is that we go into this danger response when we feel a looming deadline, or there is a bill that is due at the end of the month.
For a lot of people out there, the simple act of speaking in front of a group is paralyzing. It can feel like a life or death situation. People will say things like “If I say the wrong things, I’ll be so embarrassed I’ll die.”
Imagine starting an art career, or any other harebrained idea that has been nagging at you. How much of that is put to a standstill because of this crazy response that is designed to keep you from becoming supper for a lion? Here are six things I tell myself to motivate myself to do that thing, but also remember to have fun.
My Voice: I have one, and the only way I will find it is by doing this thing. I might be scared, but it’s not about making a good impression, it’s about speaking my truth. It’s just my opinion, everyone has one.
The Fear: The purpose of FEAR is to stop you. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when you are in immediate danger. But, if you are holding yourself back from doing something you know you love, the only way to get to the truth is to face that fear as many times as you have to. Make it an exciting game. Btw if the thing you want to do is put your head in a shark’s mouth then I would say actual life-risking fears require more prep and research… don’t just find a shark.
Get Started: Starting is where most people don’t even get to. There are millions of talented and creative geniuses walking around on the planet, but they just don’t start. You don’t have to dive in, but at least take a baby step daily.
Momentum: Once you start, keep going. The more you do it the more momentum you gain and eventually, you become an unstoppable force.
Habits: Understand that everything you do and every reaction is creating a habit, so create habits on purpose.
Give Yourself A Purpose: This could be anything. To make beautiful art that speaks to people, to voice my opinion, to write music that will change a generation, or just to paint pretty pictures… it doesn’t matter what other people think of your purpose, just that it matters to you.
I guess the most important take away for me is that life is a short occurrence, so you might as well do the things you want to do… and have fun.
This morning I found myself contemplating my life and the different ways I have lived it. Since I am in the process of writing a book, I am looking at notes and different events in my life that lead me to this point. I am a very happy individual, but I also spent the majority of my life feeling trapped and unhappy.
Growing up, I was influenced by television shows, parents, friends, friends families, teachers, the weird neighbor with the giant hairy mole, and pretty much everything and everyone else in society. I was told that my airy-fairy ideas of becoming an artist, musician, or creative were a cute thing to hold onto as long as I was a child, but eventually I would have to grow out of it. The influences were subtle and mostly unspoken. Most tv shows that I loved involved the man having a job he hated to support his family, the wife stayed at home and took care of the kids, and that’s just how it was. Usually, the job sucked really bad, but the man took solace in the fact that his sacrifice was for his family.
I gotta tell you… that whole scenario of putting your dreams aside, working a job you hate and sacrificing your happiness for the greater good is a piece of crap-turd. First off, that sucks for the man. I was that man for 20 years, and I can tell you, it sucked pretty bad. Second, I wasn’t benefiting my children at all, if anything I was teaching them first hand the same bad influence I had growing up. Third, I started to secretly resent my family because I felt that my sacrifice was being taken for granted, and that slowly tore everything apart.
After that experience I realized that no one had a handle on happiness or what you should do with your life, just a plethora of opinions based on other peoples’ opinions, and the majority of those opinions were outdated crap. It wasn’t out-of-the-box-thinking-trailblazers telling me my dreams were impossible, these were people that had conformed to living a life like everyone else, and most of them weren’t feeling fulfilled or happy.
Listen, I’m not saying you have to work for yourself in order to be happy, you can have a job somewhere and be happy and feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people that just settle for what they can get and ignore the yearning that comes from within, and in my opinion, that’s just misery. I think whether you pursue your own career or you work for someone else, it’s really all about how you choose to live; whether or not you are willing to blaze your own trail or simply conform to the status quo.
Blaze a trail: Find a new path or method; begin a new undertaking. By extension, to be the first to do something, often that which is later emulated or built upon by others. Note: New trails or routes through forests were often marked by `blazing’ which involved making white marks called `blazes’ on tree trunks, usually by chipping off a piece of bark.
If there is anything that I pride myself on now, it is that I stubbornly do things my own way and continue to move forward despite the fact that I may have to pole vault over obstacles every once in a while.
That being said, if there are portions of the well-worn path that suit my needs, I don’t avoid them, but I make sure not to allow myself to get comfortable with the easiness of it.
One thing I can take away from these very unfinished thoughts that I’m sharing with you is this: No matter what, you have a choice. You get to decide how you are going to live your life. Some people may be disappointed by your decisions, and they may even get angry at you… some may never talk to you again. Most people will come around eventually, and they’ll say things like “I always believed in you and knew you could do it” despite what they may have said in the beginning.
I think that no matter what, it is always worth looking at your life and answering one question… if I was on my deathbed right now, would I have any regrets?
Most of you know that I launched my book campaign recently. What you may not know is that I am terrified to put a book out into the world.
When I was a wee little lad there were some dreams that I had for myself. One, was to become an artist and the other was to become a writer, then there were little sub dreams like a musician and an actor. I wanted to be a creative individual who had the ability to communicate his ideas via his art.
I have successfully communicated my ideas with my paintings and sculptures for the last decade, but any time I approached writing, it became a side hobby. What I didn’t realize at the time when I was making all the excuses in the world to not sit down and write my book, was that I was scared.
I mean, I am a full-time professional artist, I make art for a living… I’ve faced all the rejection, all the stereotypes, all the discouragement, and yet here I am. I persevered and showed myself and the world that I can do it. I have faced fear head-on blazed my own trail through the wilderness.
Apparently, none of that means a rip when it comes to putting a book out there. Suddenly a lot of old fears started to surface from when I first talked myself out of pursuing an art career. These fears where slightly different, not the same ones I had overcome.
What if my ideas are wrong or invalid, or that everyone already knows what I know?
If you have ever attempted to put yourself out there in the arena and face rejection head-on, chances are you have had some or all of the questions below running through your mind. Especially when you are going to put a performance or creation out there into the world.
“I don’t think I have anything new to say.” “What if I put this book out there and everyone figures out I’m a loser?” “Everything I have to say is stuff everyone already knows.” “I’m afraid this has all already been said.” “My book won’t be any different from other books on this topic.” “Surely if there was one book that did not need to be written, it’s this one, right?” “I’m afraid my book won’t be perfect.” “I’m afraid I put too much in.” “I’m afraid I didn’t put in enough.” “I’m afraid I’m going to forget everything I want to say.” “I’m afraid of leaving things out.” “What if no one reads it?” “What if there is no audience?” “What if my book doesn’t impact anyone?” “What if this is a waste of my time and effort?” “I’ll be embarrassed if people criticize my book.” “I’m afraid this book is going to make someone mad.” “I’m afraid of being judged.” “I don’t want my book to upset my current clients.” “I can’t say these things about people.” “What if my friends read it and hate it?” “What if I sound bitchy or stupid?” “I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.” “What if I get all one-star reviews?” “What if everyone who reads it, hates it?” “What will people think if there’s a typo?” “I’m afraid something will be wrong with my book, and I’ll look stupid to everyone I know.”
Sound familiar? These were the same fears I faced when I started showing my art full time.
So, what do I do with these fears…? I’m not sure yet, but I will tell you this. I am writing this book because it is the book that I wish I would have found when I started my art career, and I believe it is going to be amazing, despite my fears.
So, I’ll oblige and answer each question and respond to each statement.
“I don’t think I have anything new to say.”
Of course I don’t, there are only so many words in the English language and I’m not inventing any new ones. I do however have my own unique perspective and that will have to be enough.
“Everything I have to say is stuff everyone already knows.”
We already know a bunch of crap, but usually when we hear it from someone else’s experience, it makes a difference.
“I’m afraid this has all already been said.”
“My book won’t be any different from other books on this topic.”
Oh yes, it will, you’re not smart enough to write like those guys.
“Surely if there was one book that did not need to be written, it’s this one, right?”
You know that’s bull, this book needs to be written by you. Even if no one reads this, you need to write it.
“I’m afraid my book won’t be perfect.”
Good! Perfection is overrated.
“I’m afraid I put too much in.”
That’s what editing is for, better to cut than not have enough.
“I’m afraid I didn’t put in enough.”
Seriously, make up your mind. Trust me… You can’t keep your mouth shut, this is not going to be an issue.
“I’m afraid I’m going to forget everything I want to say.”
Only if you forget who you are, how you live, and what your entire belief system is.
“What if no one reads it?”
I’m sure at least Klee will read it, so no worries there.
“What if there is no audience?”
Your crowdfunding campaign is already 70% funded, I don’t think you have to worry about that.
“What if my book doesn’t impact anyone?”
If it impacts you, it will impact someone… write it for you.
“What if this is a waste of my time and effort?”
If you don’t do it, you will regret not spending the time and effort into it. That means that no matter what, it’s worth it.
“I’ll be embarrassed if people criticize my book.”
People criticize you all the time, and they will definitely criticize your book, so get used to it… sissy.
“I’m afraid this book is going to make someone mad.”
Oh well, people get mad over stupid stuff all the time, so don’t worry about it. You’re not a jerk who likes to provoke people, remember that.
“I’m afraid of being judged.”
You get judged every day… get over it.
“I don’t want my book to upset my current followers.”
The ones that don’t like it aren’t part of your tribe. Besides, the book is going to be awesome.
“What if my friends and family read it and hate it?”
They don’t like anything you do anyway, so who cares?
“I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.”
Well, the book is not going to change your looks… so, get over it.
“What if I get all one-star reviews?”
Sweet! You got a star!!!
“What if everyone who reads it, hates it?”
Then, it’s bad and you should make changes for your second book.
“What will people think if there’s a typo?”
Dude… You are the typo master… if it happens big deal, own it.
“I’m afraid something will be wrong with my book, and I’ll look stupid to everyone I know.”
Everyone you know already thinks you’re stupid and they love you for it.
Basically, the idea is to get to a neutral place with fears. Not running away from them, but facing them head-on and taking away their power. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.
And… This book is going to be amazing because of it!
If you would like to help me make this book a reality, click on the image below to find out how.
Back in the day, making excuses was like breathing air for me. I had some great ones, in fact they were so good that I didn’t realize I was even making excuses.
With that in mind, let’s break down 10 of the many excuses that I used to make, and tell me if they sound familiar.
Excuse #1: There’s just not enough time…
I still use this one every once in a while. What I found is that when I make this excuse I’m just not feeling enthusiastic. Usually, at the core of this excuse is the fear that I’m not good enough to do the thing that I’m claiming I don’t have the time to do. The moment I feel overwhelmed by lack of time, I can talk myself out of anything. Sometimes it may be something that I genuinely don’t want to do, and in that situation I would rather cancel the project than keep it rattling around in my brain jar. But when it is something you really want to do, but your claim to non-fame is that you don’t have enough time, ever… then I would think twice about that excuse.
In fact, if I look at my behavior in moments of overwhelm, I actually become less productive, which causes there to be less time, and even more overwhelm.
Excuse #2: There’s just not enough money…
I find that no matter how much money I have in the bank, whether it is thousands, or negative somethings these words will blurt out of my mouth. To be honest, I have a weird relationship with money that I have been working on throughout the last few years. I think it is important that we look at our relationship with money because it is either one of two things: a good relationship or a bad one. In other words, if you feel like a victim to green pieces of paper then it’s a bad one. Most of my baggage when it comes to money is partly from poor money mentality in my household when I was growing up, but like most relationships, it is something you can improve once you look a little deeper into yourself.
Excuse #3: I don’t have an education…
This was my number one excuse when it came to pursuing art as a career… well, it was one of many number one excuses. There are numerous multi-millionaires and billionaires who have nothing more than a high school education. Some don’t even have that. Yet, I spent a lot of time in my life wasting my precious brain power believing this gibberish. I’m not knocking education, there’s value in it. If you want to pursue an education, pursue it. If you want to be an excellent brain surgeon, definitely go to school. If you want to sharpen your creative skills by taking classes, by all means… but don’t let an education, or lack thereof, define what you can accomplish with your talents.
Excuse #4: I’m just too old or too young…
I’m old enough to have used both of these excuses… blah blah blah. Right now, it’s the too old excuse. I’m too old to be in a band, I’m too old to do YouTube, I’m to old to make a significant impact in the new generation of humans… blah blah blah. While you may not see me on American Idol anytime soon (they have a no geezer age limit of 28 which I find outdated and discriminatory, but whatevs…) I am most certainly young enough to excel at whatever I gosh darned please, as long as I’m breathing.
Bonus Excuse: I don’t know how…
This is an excuse I rarely use because I am very dogged at figuring stuff out. I am a stubborn figurer-outer. This means I make mistake after mistake after mistake, until I get it. I simply don’t like not knowing how to do something, or being afraid to try. This has, so far, worked out in my favor.
Excuse #6: I just can’t change…
This used to be true for me, I was pretty set in my ways and the words “That’s just who I am!” would spout out of my mouth as an excuse to justify some stupid thing I did. It wasn’t until I started thinking long term, determining whether that’s how I wanted to be and live in ten, twenty years, that I realized perhaps being willing to evolve is to my benefit. When you think about the cycle of stubborn habits repeating time and time again over the course of twenty years, you get a fire under your but to start that change immediately.
Excuse #7: I’m afraid to fail…
I think we get taught this stupid thing in school… “Do everything you can to succeed, failure is the mark of laziness or lack of skill.” I’m sure that might seem like sound logic to those who have never tried to do something that hasn’t been done before. But, if you want to blaze your own trail, you are going to have to fail several times in order to reach anything resembling success. I think we should embrace failure, learn from it, and plan ahead so we know how to use the failure to do it better the next time.
Excuse #8: It’s just not the right time…
Yeah, if these little words pop out of your mouth then you should just swat them down mid-air like a fly, before they reach anyone’s ear holes. I knew a wonderful woman who was in her 90’s that fused the following words into my brain “If not now, when?” and I get it, sometimes it’s just not the right time to take action. However, more often than not this is just a lame excuse.
Excuse #9: I am not ready…
Sometimes you will hear this come from someone who is standing at the edge of a pool, about to jump in and they say “I’m not ready!” when actually they are merely paralyzed by fear. There they are, standing there in their swim suit, the water is good… how much more ready can you get? There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future or taking the time to lay out a clear plan of action. However, if planning is all you do, this could indicate that there might be fears preventing you from moving forward. Understand this and you will overcome your need for over-planning… in due time.
Excuse #10: I’m just not inspired…
This is a big one, yet I find that most of the time when these words come out of my mouth it has more to do with laziness than inspiration. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. Sometimes I’m not inspired because I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself and clogging up my brain circuits with all of the above excuses. Whatever the cause, when this excuse crops up I know it’s time to take a leaf blower to whatever doom cloud is lurking overhead, and start fresh.
Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about how things didn’t turn out the way we had expected, that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation — no matter what the outcome.
So go out and make excuses for how awesome you are. Make excuses for how you have more than enough time, and how it is the right time for you, and how failure is no big deal. You can say and do anything you want, just pay closer attention to the words that come out of the hole in the front of your face.
Today you’ll join me in my brain… There is something on my mind and you’ll be following me through the twists and turns of my thought process when something pisses me off.
If you’ve been following along in our adventure, you know that we had the whole Etsy conundrum and decided to move on to greener pastures. Of course we ranted about it on YouTube and pointed out the reasons for the move and some of the shady stuff that Etsy was doing.
We received thousands of responses to the videos, and although 99.5% of people that watched and commented were constructive in sharing their experiences with and thoughts about the Etsy situation (some in agreement, some not), there were some comments that caused me to scratch my head and fume a bit.
One that seemed to reoccur a couple times was “Oh grow up! and quit complaining. Just roll in your shipping and raise your price.”
These particular comments caused me to stop and think about whether or not we were simply complaining about the situation. Well, only after I thought “BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP CENSOR BLEEP BLEEP!!!”
In the videos, we lay out the problem we have with the new Etsy free shipping push, point out a few of the ways this would be a problem for the small business owner, and then talk about a plan of action moving forward.
I’ll be honest: when I’m around someone who is chronically whining, complaining, bitching and moaning it’s as difficult for me as it is for anyone else. The energy of those dynamics is one of powerlessness.
And I don’t do powerlessness.
The simple fact is that people respond to emotions in an interesting way, based on how they view the world… based on the experiences they’ve had and how they view themselves. They will lump themselves up into a group and do the same with other people. For example, we were protesting Etsy’s new policy, and thus we were grouped into their perception of what a protester is. Someone who is whining and complaining about stuff and making a ruckus, that is the point of view of someone who would never protest. People divide themselves into groups because it’s safe to feel like you are part of a group… left, right, this movement, that movement, this group, that group, religious, non-religious. My problem with this is that if you have an “us”, then there is a “them”, and that’s where things get stupid and dangerous. Who knows where artists fit in this spectrum, but I’m sure there are several people who assume we are just irresponsible and childish… and some are, because they are human, not because they are artists.
I think it’s interesting that the term “grow up” is associated to, and often used as a verbal fly swatter against speaking up for yourself. I know that when I was a kid, if I didn’t agree with something, or was against doing something, an adult would get mad and say “Oh grow up.”
So, for some people it must mean that being a grown up means staying quiet when you disagree and just taking it. Because if you speak your mind about something, then you are being childish.
In our example, Etsy decides to use gentle coercion to get us to change our policies which would require us to be dishonest with our collectors. It also will cause us to be treading illegal waters. If we don’t do it, we will be gently penalized by having our products show up at the bottom of the pile.
So in order to be “grown up” I shut my mouth, change the policies of my business, and deceive my customers. I basically just take it up the keester. I guess at that point I would have to be ok with Etsy telling me how to run my business, lie to people, and just not stand up for what I believe in. That does sound very adult like. I would have to make all kinds of excuses to justify my actions, allow myself to continue feeling helpless while telling myself that I was in control and ultimately made the sacrifices one makes when they are a grown up.
I’ll be honest… That sounds so stupid. It’s ridiculous that people live that way… but they do. I lived that way for most of my life. I didn’t make waves, didn’t rock the boat, I was a good boy, so quiet and respectful, and so spineless. I also, would get mad and tell people to grow up when they just didn’t fall inline, because I was so twisted inside by the justifications and fear I had of causing a ruckus that I didn’t even know what to believe any more.
I’m not that way now. In my mind, the question of whether I’m a grown up or not is a crock of shite. We are all a bunch of kids pretending to be grown ups, making serious faces when we think we are supposed to be serious, and pretending to know what we are talking about. We don’t have any absolute answers to “life, the universe and everything”, we are all just figuring it out as we go.
So, for me… Speaking what I believe, yet being open and flexible is the responsible thing to do. Moving away from an e-commerce platform that is trying to tell me how to run my business, and ultimately has control over how well my business performs is probably the most grown up thing I can do… whatever that means.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Perhaps speaking up for the things I believe in is annoying to some people. It’s really all too easy to turn a blind eye to things that don’t sit well with us, and it can even seem more comfortable. When someone speaks up about an issue and we have to look at things we otherwise don’t want to, it can be a disruption of the status quo and that’s inevitably going to upset some percentage of people. And maybe it’s even true, as one comment suggested, “You just don’t understand how big business works.” Well, maybe so… but I do have a pretty good understanding of small business and the values that keep it going… and I sure as heck have a good understanding of my business, and how I choose to run it. If that’s childish and naive, then so be it.
I had a conversation with someone at the market the other day and they were telling me a terrible story about something that their friend said to them. It was discouraging and mean, and immediately I thought “Why would you have a friend like that?”
Years ago, when I was a corporate dude, I had a lot of friends. In fact I prided myself on how many friends I had. It was almost like the more popular I was, the more value my life had. I also had a collection of friendships that were bronzed by longevity, a group of friends that were at the top tiers because I had known them longer than anyone else.
Despite having a close circle of friends, I wasn’t what you would call happy. I think the problem started because I wasn’t very popular in school. Trust me, I have no qualms about it, I was a weird ass kid… I mean I wasn’t scary weird, just quiet, awkward, and unsociable. I think my need to fill in the empty space, caused me to not question my friendships and feel grateful that people were actually willing to call me their friend.
It wasn’t until years later that I started to take notice of the dynamic personalities that I took on around certain people. How in most cases, I was too afraid to be myself, and how I wasn’t really sure who that was any more.
Some people that I considered really close friends ended up being the most toxic. I didn’t realize it, because we had slowly over the years created a dance in our relationships, where I willingly played a role and they played theirs. It was like our dynamic was perfectly choreographed.
A truth that I had to face, which was very difficult for me was this. You will allow people to abuse you slightly less than you abuse yourself and others, or you would leave immediately. It is only because you think you deserve it, that you make all the excuses to stay. Either from the beginning, or slowly throughout your relationship, you allowed yourself to stay and take the toxic relationship.
This wasn’t a happy thought from where I was standing. I wanted to deny it, and say it was just some crap that some stupid self help guru made up.
But, once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop. I realized that the source of my unhappiness had noting to do with the people I surrounded myself with. I surrounded myself with toxic people, because I was toxic to myself and others. A positive person entering my life wouldn’t last long in that dynamic, they would get weeded out eventually or simply leave.
I had to change my relationship with myself.
When I started on this journey to becoming my biggest cheerleader, most of my friends were put off by it and called me all kinds of names.
I associated it to this analogy:
You go to a bar every night and meet with five friends. Every night, you complain about your job, your spouse, the weather, and yourself. You all commiserate about how tough things are for you and how life sucks. All you know is the inside of that bar, that is where you are comfortable.
Then one day, you go for a walk instead. The day is beautiful, and you stand by the ocean. At first you are uncomfortable, and not really sure what to expect. Part of you wants to run back to the bar, the other part of you wants to see where this goes. So you stay. You sit in the stillness and watch a sunset for the first time and you are overcome with beauty.
You go back to the bar the next night and try to convince your friends to stop their routine and experience the sunset like you did. You tell them that it is beautiful, and that you feel amazing. They tell you that you have changed, and they feel like they don’t know you any more.
At that point you have a choice… Go to the sunset alone, or stay at the bar.
Not well sometimes… but I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have helped me get better and better at dealing with poo flinging critics.
I think it is a necessary plight that one will have to get used to when you are putting yourself out there. I am an artist who creates art, music, writing, YouTube videos, and puts them all out there for the world to see… I get a lot of negative criticism.
Comparatively speaking, I mostly get a lot of beautiful comments on my creations. We have a following of some of the most amazing humans I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with.
Yet, negative comments can still throw me off kilter, despite the overwhelming positivity I experience in the world. It’s almost like a temporary reminder that the world isn’t such a wonderful place… and there is an a-hole around every corner, just waiting to jump out and say you suck.
I want to be clear about something, I’m not talking about constructive criticism. Listen, sometimes even a helpful criticism can be hard to hear, and our first response may be to run away flailing our arms helplessly, but sometimes it’s valid. Follow the source and stop for a moment, get off your high horse and check to see if it is valid and constructive. If not, then we are talking about destructive criticism. If the criticism is constructive, then it’s intended to guide you and to help you improve as a person, not to bring you down and make you feel inadequate.
If the criticism is completely invalid, totally off, and only meant to hurt you, then that’s what I’m talking about here.
So what do I do when someone is all “blah blah blah you suck Rafi blah blah blah!” I Don’t take it personally. It takes a miserable person to try and make themselves feel better by giving some misery to someone else… don’t take it, it’s not yours, and it doesn’t belong to you. Understand that people who are in pain say really hurtful things, especially people that may know which buttons to press. Think about a time where you may have said something terrible to someone. Were you in your right mind? Were you in pain? Were you feeling like a victim? Some people live there in that place… don’t take it personally, unless you wanna visit and stay a while.
Understand that it’s your buttons. Why is it that one person can be called ugly and not even react a little, but someone else will blow a gasket? It’s because we all have our own little triggers based on our own insecurities. So if someone says something and it bothers you, take a look and see if you can identify the insecurity or doubt behind the emotion. In my opinion, when someone says something mean and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are full of crap, you hardly even react, but if they touch on something that pushes on an insecurity it can be devastating. Just remember, they are your buttons. Figure out what’s behind it and sort it out.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Are you going to stop being who you are simply because someone spewed some garbage at you? Of course not. If the criticism has no basis whatsoever, then the best thing you can do is to ignore it completely.
Listen, people talk shit all the time because they are not putting themselves out there in the muck, sweating, bleeding and enduring the terrifyingly exhilarating ride that is fulfilling your dreams. They are going to say you can’t sing, you can’t paint, you’re not funny, you’re are not good enough, and everything else that they can say to destroy your hope and get you to stop. Don’t EVER let someone who is not putting themselves out there in the muck discourage you from going all the way. If they are not doing it themselves, and facing critics of their own, then they have no right to talk.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not able to push all of the negative words aside right away. It takes practice to work it out and get to a place where it’s no thing… But you got this.
Mugs, T-shirts, Stickers, And Posters – Be Prepared For Delays