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I’m sitting in a darkened room with about 20 other women. Wooden floors, high ceiling – somehow it’s small and cosy but spacious and open at the same time. The lights are low and my friend Morgan is standing at the front with her guitar and a microphone. 

“This is a song I wrote the night I thought I was going to quit music.”

***

If I’m honest, I didn’t want to come. I’d had a really low energy day – doubting everything, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life –  and the thought of leaving the house, driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge into the city and trying to find a park just all felt a little ‘too hard basket’ for me (if you’ve ever been in a similar position, you probably know this is a bit of an understatement).

Even though I left home early, I’d driven around and around in circles for nearly half an hour looking out for a park – to the point where I almost turned around and crossed the bridge once more, basically just wasting a trip. Ahhh Sydney life.

Just as I’d given up hope and was preparing to head back home – exhausted, frustrated, annoyed – a spot opened up at last.

I got out of the car and half jogged down a dark, abandoned laneway, hoping that I was going to find the right entrance and trying not to get spooked by my overactive imagination as I headed further down the empty street. I ducked up the stairs and snuck in the back, everyone already settled and I can’t help but wonder how they all managed to arrive on time while I was circling Potts Point…

After showing us how to draw her magical mandalas, Morgan encourages us to have a go ourselves. A little intimidating in the midst of this musically talented, mandala drawing boho babe who oozes confidence in front of us all.

I’m nervous about drawing but I dive on in, despite my cranky mood. Part of me wants to just copy one of her examples, part of me hesitates thinking I won’t be any good at it, and another much quieter part of me dives in with a sudden resolve that I can’t quite place. 

It’s a slow process, second guessing every line and hoping I don’t fuck it up – but knowing that I probably will.

Morgan strums away in the background, creating the perfect atmosphere for a group of women sitting on the floor, drawing. I feel my emotions start to calm down. My energy starts to balance out. My nervous system feels soothed as all my senses are able to take a load off.

And then she says those words and begins to sing the song she wrote right when she was on the brink of giving it all up and my heart cracks wide open. 

I’m not the only one who contemplates quitting. It’s not just my little quiet achieving self who goes through this thought process. I feel a renewed energy and start drawing with fervour.

And just as she opens up and shares such a deep creative vulnerability, a thought pops into my head as the sweet melancholy of words and notes engulf me. It’s as though, in that moment, we are having an intense soul D&M – it’s like I know exactly how she felt that night. It connects with how I had been feeling all day and it hits me:

 

A creative life means walking a fine line between how easy it would be to just quit and knowing that – if we did – we’d never be who we truly are.

 

Every day, it seems, I have conversations with women who are pursuing dreams and goals that are SO big, SO scary, that they often consider quitting. I feel like this is universal, and that it’s a constant presence. When I say it’s walking a fine line, I mean that is the path of a creative life.

The path is the fine line. 

It’s a daily balancing act.

It may not be something we can overcome. It may not be something we can fight against or will away.

It could just be that the KNOWING is all we need to continue moving forward.

Knowing that, yes, it would be oh-so easy to quit.

But that if we did, we wouldn’t ever truly be who we are.

This realisation has been my lighthouse. Every down turn, every moment of doubt, every time I’ve thought about packing it in (which I can honestly say was pretty often in the past year) I’ve remembered this thought that stirred my soul on the night that I nearly turned around and drove home.

I remember that sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s overwhelming, and sometimes I have no freaking idea what I’m doing.

But that walking away would be SO. MUCH. WORSE.

It would be denying who I am.

It would be denying who YOU are.

We’re living in what feels – very suddenly – like a shocking and chaotic one, but only because it’s directly affecting those of us who have grown up in an era of wealth and opportunity and privilege.

Every now and then I feel that choosing a creative life is selfish and just another indicator of this privilege. And then I look at the work of people like Liz Gilbert, Oprah, Elon Musk, Danielle LaPorte, Brene Brown – using creativity as a way to help others, to expand the thinking of the privileged, and who are genuinely trying to make an impact with their status.

It makes me think that the world will be saved by people who are open to creative solutions.  Who are willing to speak up for those who can’t. Who are ready and able to say, ‘Actually, no’. Who realise that if they quit just because something gets difficult or challenging or upsetting, that they wouldn’t be who they are. They wouldn’t be doing what they are put on this earth at this point in time to do.

We all have a part to play.

We are all humans trying to find our place and I truly believe that it starts with the acceptance that we are creative souls with unique skills that we can use to make a difference. It’s too late to turn back and quit. 

 

What do you think? Leave a comment below and – if this resonates – please share it with anyone you think would like to join the conversation.

 

Pin it for later?

A CREATIVE LIFE MEANS WALKING A FINE LINE BETWEEN HOW EASY IT WOULD BE TO JUST QUIT AND KNOWING THAT - IF WE DID - WE'D NEVER BE WHO WE TRULY ARE.

 

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Katherine Mackenzie-Smith

To all the introverts, wall flowers, quiet achievers, and sensitive souls..

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