“Listen all you people, come gather round
I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground
Just give me what I know is mine
People do you hear me, just give me the sign
It ain't much I'm asking, if you want the truth
Here's to the future for the dreams of youth
I want it all and I want it now”
- I Want It All by Queen
Freddie Mercury had a lot of insight into creative young people. Impatience and insatiability dominates.
Even if we’re no longer young, we’ve all been there - especially if we live broadly, intensely, and with high sensitivity.
Looking back? We may actually hope no one was paying attention.
We may find ourselves thankful we were ignored on a larger scale. And we have something else to be thankful for. Our time being ignored has a lot to teach us going forward.
Here’s to Being Ignored!
- Need some time to gather your thoughts?
- New to a field and inexperienced?
- Dabbling with something for fun?
- Don’t know yourself or your voice yet?
- Young and bold?
- Starting a new business?
When your work isn’t receiving much attention, it’s rarely looked at as an opportunity. But it’s actually a great time to invest in yourself, learn how you work best, and experiment.
Here's a song worth ignoring.
This sentiment isn’t meant to be the opposite of Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You (a book I should probably add to my future reading list). It’s simply interesting to discuss what keeps people going when they are receiving little reinforcement.
"Being ignored as a good thing" in regards to creative endeavors is an idea I hear mentioned here and there.
When professional people acknowledge there are good things to be ignored - well, it makes me feel better.
Such thoughts hold my attention and make me think about how time with a small audience is sacred time to experiment before more people pay attention. This special and underrated time is nice to have in a fast paced world trying to sell fast wins and fast success.
In fact, I have found, people like to be in on “the beginnings” of something. It’s far more exciting than coming across it last. In general, open and intuitive personalities like to witness others building a project from the ground up (especially if they think that person is onto something).
The Attention Economy
When I see young people who think they haven’t accomplished enough yet creatively, it’s usually because they measure themselves with the backdrop of our “attention economy”- aka human interactions as a commodity.
They don’t think they have enough eyeballs on them to do their best work. It’s important to remind them of the value of solitude and the value of small numbers. I think to myself and sometimes out loud to them, “Someday you may have a lot of people up in your business and you’ll be thankful for the time you carved out a thought for yourself.”
The amount of creativity possible in isolation is astounding. Combining it with online communities can have many pros. However, you must face possible cons as a sensitive person. It’s good to grow your thick skin slowly. And remember - your online presence is part of you, not all of you. If it disappeared tomorrow, you would still be here.
Just like wondering if your writing is better when you have free time, it’s worth wondering if your creative work is really better if more people pay attention to it? I know for myself, the answer is no.
While I’ve experienced mild success from my past creative endeavors (enough to scrape together a meager living for three years without dipping into savings), I’ve never had an overwhelming amount of attention to keep up with or reciprocate. Recently I’ve garnered a thought-process that makes me thankful for this fact.
Points Again For Journaling
In creative work, it can be difficult to know when something is “done” or “presentable” or … useful to others (if that's your jam).
Overtime, journaling has given me perspective about being thankful I didn’t put everything out there for the world to see. Of course, you have to balance this with holding your thoughts in forever. Deciding when to take action doesn’t need to be scary. Chances are, not many people are paying attention… yet.
How have you experimented in private or with a small audience? How did it feel to do it early on with songwriting, blogging, or some other creative endeavor?
DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.