And if you’re a parent, I’d imagine you do too.
For those readers that don’t understand my loathing for ice cream trucks and their crowd, let me try to paint you a picture.
Imagine that it’s a beautiful fall, spring, or summer evening (take your pick). The sun is shining and the air is cool/crisp/warm (based on the season you selected above) and you’ve just sat down with a cup of coffee (relevant regardless of the season). Your youngster is FINALLY settled down and entertaining themselves quietly and you have a luxurious few moments to relax and unwind from the stress and busyness of the day. Then it happens. Far, far in the distance you hear the off key muted strains of Pop Goes the Weasel blaring brashly from cheap speakers, and you frantically begin to scramble for the volume control of the nearest noise making device, but it’s too late. Like a starving wolf on the frozen tundra of the Arctic Circle your adoring youngster has already heard the music and comes scrambling around the corner like an out of control rally car in one of those fail videos. Now, no matter what you say, the peace is shattered, the moment has passed, the Ice Cream Man cometh.
It’s annoying and the annoyed side of me wishes that I could somehow create a law that would prevent it from happening. But the writer side of me recognizes a lesson that I need to learn.
This is the point in the article where you might be asking yourself, what lesson could I possibly learn from a sketchy looking person, probably in sweatpants but I’ll probably never know, rocking out to kiddy tunes in the most gawdawful creepy van I’ve ever seen? (Actually, the more that I think about it, a job surrounded by ice cream where I can wear sweatpants all day sounds pretty nice…) Anyway, back to the lesson I learned — Self-promotion is actually okay! As a matter of fact, if I learn to share my creativity with the world as passionately and as consistently with the world as the ice cream dude, I’m confident the world will enjoy what I have to offer as well.
See, I’m a pretty reserved person by nature and the idea of promoting myself is contrary to that nature. I don’t like to do it, but at the same time I recognize the necessity. I’m currently working my way through Finish by the one and only Jon Acuff, and he addresses this reticence to market oneself early in the book. Apparently, it’s not an uncommon problem amongst creatives.
When I begin to examine the psychology behind this phenomenon — my unwillingness to promote — the nobility of my arguments fails rather quickly. I don’t want to promote myself because I don’t want to come across as “self-promotional.” That makes sense except for the part that doesn’t. The problem with this logic is that if I don’t believe in myself and my ability to create something that others will find valuable, who will? If I have a talent, a voice, a creative expression that I engage in because I want others to enjoy it, it follows that I need to share it with them! It’s completely nonsensical to create something that I would like others to enjoy, only to never share that creation.
The analogy that Acuff uses in his book is that of a plumber. If you are the greatest plumber in the world and loved doing plumbing stuff for people, but never owned up to it, never told anyone, and never marketed, would you honestly expect people to engage your services? Seems kind of silly doesn’t it?
Yes, it’s silly, but this is the exact approach of many creatives the world over. Granted, not everyone falls into this category, and yes there are creatives that create only for themselves — that’s not who I’m talking about. I’m writing to the creatives that are hiding their creativity because they are scared of what others will think if they share their art. Take a lesson from the sweatpants clad ice cream truck dude. Blare your message, share your art, and speak it out LOUD! You have something worth sharing. You have a voice that I and the rest of the world need to hear. You have art inside you fighting to get out. Don’t let the fear of people, the fear of failure, or the fear of success hold you back. Drive up and down the residential streets of life blaring your message like you don’t care who you are waking from a much needed nap or the routines that you are royally screwing up!
Not to the point that you can be that bold yet? I get that too. I want to help you get there. That’s the driving force behind my new mantra, I Am Unashamedly Creative. As I continue my own creative journey, my goal is to create a community that builds up, encourages, and helps creatives find their voice and their platform.
So, how do we start? Well, we could dive pretty deep here, and I will in coming articles, but I’d like to give you just two tips to start.
Here’s where to start:
Examine your motives.
Why are you creating? Is it a therapy or an artistic expression that you would only like to experience for yourself? There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. If that’s the case, then there’s no need be concerned about building a platform or sharing your work. However, if your goal is to share your work with others, you must recognize this and define your purpose. Is it to simply enrich the lives of others? Is it to educate about an issue? Or inspire people to make a change? Is it to make a living or as a side hustle? If it’s any of these, people will have to be aware that you are creating something and you are the only one that can tell them!
Start Your Tribe
You’ve likely heard that term tossed about quite frequently, but it’s valid. Your tribe is where you find the encouragement you need, the support with things don’t go as planned, and the critique you need to grow. Looking to build your tribe? Find ONE PERSON (at least) that will be honest with you, but that has your best interest at heart — someone that can provide honest feedback as you begin, someone that will share your enthusiasm and that will share your work. This person will be your “safe space” to begin the process of building an audience. If you are struggling to find someone in your close circle of friends, find a mentor or someone similar online! There are creative communities all over the internet, Facebook, Medium, etc. Do a bit of research and find somewhere that focuses on your genre of creative expression and connect. It’s a crucial step on your journey!
Taking these small steps is just the beginning, but please take them because the world needs your brand of ice cream! Don’t let anything stop you!
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