This seems stupid, I know. You probably think that your obligations, your job, your family — even your leisure time — should come first.
But this is backwards. We, as humans, need some sort of creative endeavor that we do out of pure enjoyment and expression — be it writing or teaching or roasting coffee or punk rock or building muscle cars — that carries us through our lives. This is what I mean when I say ‘life’s work’. I’m not talking about your 9–5 (unless you’re lucky enough to have a 9–5 that creatively satiates you).
We can go through our whole lives hardly ever using our imagination or expressing our true selves. Not many jobs require it, not many churches encourage it, not many family members or friends foster it.
We can totally just coast. Paycheck to paycheck, beer to beer, game to game, obligation to obligation.
Or, we can put our life’s work first. We can get serious about it. We can respect it.
How would you feel if, as you lay there on your death bed, your last waking, panicking, alarming thought was:
Shit. I never even got to know myself.
But this is how society is set up. We don’t have to have self-awareness to get by. If we make the right decisions, we can get on a track where we just do what we’re told/urged/asked to do from either our lower selves or others for the rest of our physical lives.
Self-awareness is something we must take upon ourselves to foster. It can only be tapped into through creative endeavors. We must bring ourselves — our true selves — to the surface of our lives, somehow, someway.
When we put our life’s creative work first, we give voice to who we really are.
We bump our souls a few levels higher.
We uproot that deep-seated resentment we hold towards our loved ones and colleagues when we let them determine our actions.
We draw the line. Through our actions, we live the statement that our creative work matters. That we matter. Even though they may seem frustrated or unsure of why we’d be so selfish, a part of them nods in agreement of that.
Because it’s when we really know ourselves, when we truly express ourselves, that we can show up for them fully.