Uncertainty is part of life. We always have to grapple with the unknown. And yes, in the early spring of 2020, the uncertainty and the unknown took a new dimension that we’ve never faced before. We had no idea what lay ahead of us as individuals, as creatives, and as professionals.
As an artist, you’ve always been accustomed to a certain level of uncertainty. You’re a brave soul who has learned to ride the waves of acceptance and rejection, victory and defeat, successes and failures. But this last year has been different. And, just as we were starting to get back to “normal,” here in California, we find ourselves facing more disruptions. Even when you don’t know what might happen next, you are still here, devoted to making your art.
Well over a year into this collective uncertainty, we have found creative ways to stay connected and continue to work. We found ways to make music, to make movies, to make art. And things began looking better… Until they started looking worse… We are still navigating this new unknown and uncertainty.
As we find the restrictions on gatherings returning (and as we begin to wonder if we’ll be facing these cycles of opening and closure over and over again), we are facing yet more challenges.
It’s normal to feel frustrated and anxious as we find ourselves going back to canceling shows, having meetings on Zoom, and feeling confined to our homes again. In order to grow as a creative and be a successful professional, however, you need to find healthy ways to cope with those frustrations.
How can you find your way through the next cycle of disruption and continue to make choices that honor who you are and what you want to create?
Remember to hold on to who you are as an artist
It’s easy to lose yourself when circumstances become chaotic and unpredictable. Now, more than ever, this is the time to take a moment and reconnect with who you are as an artist.
What makes you tick? What do you want to create? What is your meaning and purpose as an artist? What inspires you? What keeps you connected to your creative energy? These are just a few questions that can help you stay in touch with your unique, artistic self.
To get through the last year, you’ve had to learn to ground into your own strengths and power. You’ve probably come face to face with your own weaknesses and human limitations, too. These can actually become an asset, teaching you more about who you are as a person and an artist. Rooted in your personal and artistic identity, expressing yourself through your art will help you weather this next storm, and any that come after.
And, by staying grounded in who you are, you can also get in touch with parts of you that have lain dormant, and only now are ready to be awakened and expressed. Now more than ever is time to stay in touch with your own truth and use that truth to connect and persevere. This is how you’ll find your way through this new unknown.
Remember to acknowledge, validate, and use your feelings to create, connect, and persevere
This return to restrictions and fears about the what’s next can bring unexpected, powerful, big feelings. Fears and doubts that you thought were part of the past can start to reemerge and new feelings that you didn’t experience in the last year can come up for the first time. Feelings that have challenged you in the past may come back stronger than ever.
Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to be with your feelings. Acknowledge what’s difficult, what challenges you, and what scares you or terrifies you. When you can validate your own feelings and, you can engage fully with your own humanity. When you can allow your feelings to be with you, they actually help you stay connected with your authentic core and with the essence of life – therefore, it can help shape your art.
Fear and doubts are real, but you don’t have to stay stuck in them or let them take over. You don’t have to like or accept your feelings. Yet, when you’re grounded in the power of your authentic feelings, you can be aware of them and let them come and go. Most importanly, you can use them to keep yourself connected with this reality and to make art that matters.
Denied feelings have a way of showing up in deceiving, indirect, and unhealthy ways. Unacknowledged feelings come back stronger and are more likely to hold you prisoner or to push you to act up in ways you might not otherwise. When you ignore your feelings, you deny yourself the power to create from the real, big, authentic emotions that results in unique, true art.
When you acknowledge your feelings, you can connect fully with your life energy and humanity. These feelings are the material that make up the fabric of your art. Your feelings, difficult as they may be, can connect with your audience and take you and others through the messiness of the present.
As a creative and/or performer, you can really understand the depth of certain emotional experiences to give others an emotional space to see themselves, connect with the collective challenge, and find ways of persevering the unknown through your art. Art is the universal language – the most powerful human communication that transcends barriers.
You may be surprised how staying with your feelings can bring new and deeper connections, meaning, new ways of making your art and moving forward.
Now, more than ever, it is the time to be with and acknowledge your feelings. Validated feelings keep you engaged, active, and alive. Your feelings help you create, connect, and manifest life! Let your feelings pave your way forward.
Remember to stay connected with the power of choice
Over the last year, when we often couldn’t travel, gather, or meet with others in person for our private or professional life, our relationship with our own power to choose was forced to change. Often, you simply couldn’t do what you have been accustomed to do and your choices felt profoundly limited.
Now, as before, the question becomes: how can you exercise choice?
What can you choose at this moment? Can you choose courage? Can you choose humanity? Can you choose to express love? Can you choose to make meaning and devote yourself to learning? Can you choose to reach out? To connect? To show up for you or others, even if things are different than you planned? Can you choose to turn this crisis into an opportunity?
Now, more than ever, it’s time to choose courage, hope, compassion, and connection. This is the time to choose and stay in touch with the best parts of who you are. This is the time to choose to express life! Uncertain times can bring out the worst in people, and a return to restriction can really take its toll, but you can choose to let your best self lead you forward and create – through your art – stories that matters.
If you feel like you need help navigating this next season of disruption and all of the disappointment and confusion that might come with it, this could be the right time to reach out to a psychotherapist who can help you stay connected to yourself and your creativity.
I specialize in working with artists, creatives, and performers, and I know the kind of support you need to continue to show up as a creative during these challenging times. I see clients from across California thanks to online therapy.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives face and shift emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.