I crave validation. My psychology textbook explains that creativity’s greatest motivator is intrinsic pleasure as opposed to external pressure. When I am passionate about a project, my work and process tend to be more successful. I do not deny this, though I do believe that external factors motivate me as well, especially at the beginning of a project. I often strive to impress and tend to seek the approval of others. Several months ago, I would have said that this is one of the reasons why I consider myself a fraud. My hesitancy, in the past, has been rooted in this seeming lack of passion and the absence of an irrepressible force boiling within me, urging me to create.

While it, at times, frustrates me that my motivation is often initially derived from external pressures rather than uncontainable enthusiasm, I no longer see this as entirely problematic. I no longer allow this conflict to hinder my process because I realize that at this point in my life, if those external pressures surrounding art did not exist, there still is nothing else that I would be doing. It is not as though those pressures are so intense that they exceed an intrinsic desire to be doing something else. I unfortunately do not possess intrinsic desire that is more vehement than the external motivators of acceptance, recognition, approval, and, quite frankly, my mortality. Without them, I would sleep, read, and watch movies. Everyday. For eternity.

I have to wonder if I am alone in this. I am so quick to make assumptions about the passion possessed by others. Are some of us just too afraid to say it? That would be reassuring and comforting. I should write a book. Has someone done that? Did critics rip him/her apart? Does that contradict everything we like to think about creativity and fulfillment?


Fulfillment also plays a significant role in all of this. It may be fleeting, and may follow bouts of absolute frustration, but I can confidently say that I have experienced fulfillment during my process. And I do not consider fulfillment as a result of complimentary remarks valid. That is the type of gratification that comes with getting a 95 on a paper for an academic class. I do not welcome that kind of fulfillment during my process. I guess that external pressure as a source of fulfillment is quite different from external pressure as a source of motivation.

I do not deny that fulfillment resulting from positive external responses can be rewarding and pleasant. My issue with it though, is that if we give value to the positive reactions, we essentially give value to negativity. When we accept a compliment or accept fulfillment as a result of external factors, we distinguish good from bad and we associate failure and dissatisfaction with the absence of this type of fulfillment. This is why I often feel inclined to cover my ears when someone begins to compliment my work during my process. When someone does this, they are feeding this beast within me that craves validation and approval. Consequently, when this beast isn’t nourished, I am left unfulfilled, simply because the beast was given a taste of fulfillment and demands to be fed even more. And then I immediately run into every block imaginable because that beast is insatiable.

I am not sure what I am ultimately saying here. I do not know that this can be avoided.


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