Chapter 2: Intensity

January 02, 2017

I embraced my need to survive with every ounce of my being. I was driven, and I was absolutely confident that I had something of value to offer. Time and time again, though, I faced rejection coupled with an imminent threat of complete and total loss, both present and future. I envied those who were succeeding by following a well-worn path, and many times I found myself tempted to follow their lead just to have a chance. But I knew deep down that I would only betray myself should I make that choice. My nature is to follow a road less traveled, and staying true to that ethos had given me an incredible life. But why not now? I struggled immensely with the place in which I found myself. Doing what everyone else is doing may be profitable, but the cost is far too great in my mind. Stubborn determination took over, and I spent every spare moment honing my skills and learning everything I didn’t know. I was convinced each and every time that this time I would be successful, and the fear would finally become a distant memory. The world had other plans, though. The rejections came faster and harder, slowly eroding my patience. “Giving in would be so much easier,” I thought to myself. “They simply don’t get it.” Finally, after reading one single message, I was done. I had tried so hard, and gotten nowhere. The message was, “You need to stand out from the crowd.” I scoffed as I looked at the multitude of people who were all doing the same exact thing, yet being successful at every turn. Because what they were doing was safeproven. I had to accept that perhaps the world didn’t want what I offered.

I had to remove myself from the situation. I needed to escape into nature and a world of happy flowers. Delicate, friendly, appreciative of my presence. My eyes floated across the tranquil colors, yet my mind was not satisfied with the muted tones — too much like I felt in that moment. Eventually my sight focused on a red, almost defiant gem. That little flower was me — bold and refusing to succumb to a world where soft, pretty pastels are the norm. “Well, little one. It’s just me and you.” As I studied its unique shape and color, I felt the intensity of adolescent rebellion grow inside me. I had nothing to lose at this point, and I just really wanted to tell them all to bug off. The idea began to evolve in my mind, and then off I went. One final battle, and I would win the war. I would not do as they expected and become yet another casualty. With every meticulous ounce of thought, I formulated the perfect message, fully expecting a rude and terse response. What happened next was utterly beyond my comprehension. My effort was accepted and applauded. “What just happened?” I was dumbfounded.

I thought back to that little red flower, and it became clear. The path to success is not black and white. Sometimes all we need to do is give our critics exactly and precisely what they ask for, yet in our own unique ways. For this is self-expression in its purest form. We must offer the common in an uncommon way. That is the nature of creativity. Keep things simple, be resourceful, develop skills, learn — for this shows a respect for the craft, whatever it may be, and we, in turn, will be valued for our seemingly endless dedication. Like that intense red flower, we do not have to stop being who we are in order to succeed. In truth, that will lead to an existence, yet never truly living. Instead, we need to stand on common ground, and use our creative self-expression in a way that the benefits the world as much as it benefits our selves. Be soft, yet powerful. Living with intensity and passion draws people to us — this is what sets us apart.



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