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Monday, March 5, 2018

Tiny Change #8: Keep the Drama on the Stage

Let's be honest: this may not be a small change. We're artists, so we can be dramatic. This is, at times, what fuels our work. But what if it's detracting from your work? 

What if there is so much drama in your life that you find yourself unable to focus on your deadlines? What if you're so busy taking care of everyone else that you can't take care of yourself? What if you're so busy fulfilling everyone else's expectations of being a good boyfriend or good daughter or good uncle or good stand-in therapist that you're not getting your own practicing or schoolwork done?

That's when you know things are out of balance.

Steven Pressfield says it quite well in his book, The War of Art:

The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work. The working artist banishes from her world all sources of trouble. She harnesses the urge for trouble and transforms it in her work.

You can't be all things to everyone and still be the student who will fulfill his potential. You can't be the artist you were meant to be if, when you go to fish in the pond, it's been overfished. You have to leave something for yourself.

In fact, I'd say you have to tend to your own pond before you tend to someone else's.

This might mean different things to different people. It might mean turning off your phone for an hour and tending to an artistic obligation. It might mean going to the gym for 30 minutes to let off some steam so that you don't blow tomorrow. It might mean being there for a friend who is having her own drama for 30 minutes instead of three hours, so that you don't end up getting sick from sleep deprivation. You know what it'll mean for you.

This might be tough for some of you. Some folks very dear to you might even be angry at you for taking care of yourself instead of taking care of them, especially if they've come to expect you to sacrifice your own wellbeing for theirs.

They will get over it. So will you. 

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