Creative courage means not being content to let your Gift rot while pursuing a path that others have prescribed for you, creeping along in the safety of a status quo life. It means refusing to join the ranks of those around you bragging about their lack of commitment to their lives.
In The Pursuit of Effortless Cool, a post I wrote a while back, I offered my thoughts on society’s current fascination with the idea of effortless cool — the notion of being cool without even having to try. The post discusses that, while the ability to have an effortlessly cool life would be awesome — or, at least, convenient and momentarily gratifying — it doesn’t actually exist.
Even so, since society places so much value on the illusive ability to be effortlessly cool, we often pretend to have it anyway. We choose to appear apathetic toward our own aspirations so it seems as if we lead effortlessly cool lives. We also do this so, if one of our endeavors happens to fail, others won’t perceive it as such a defeat. The former seems harmless enough, albeit a bit unnecessary. The latter, on the other hand, can be much more destructive.
Initially, most of us realize that our pretended disinterest is just an act, but pretending not to care can easily lead to true apathy. After all, in order to keep up appearances, we can’t talk about our dreams too much or put too much effort into achieving them in front of anyone else. And, without the capability to share our journey to obtain our desires with others, most of the magic in even having desires is lost.
We stop caring about our aspirations and, soon enough, we stop having them in the first place. We explain away our lack of accomplishments with our apathy reasoning that — even though we don’t care — we could achieve greatness if we did. And, ironically, that’s the truth. Eventually, though, as the quote above references, we replace striving to accomplish our dreams with dysfunctionally bonding over our shared lack of dedication to them with others.
In essence, we perpetuate the myth of effortless cool as a means to cover for our collective fear of failure. It’s our excuse to pretend not to care in attempts to shield ourselves from the embarrassment and criticism that we’ve equated with it. But, while failing certainly isn’t fun, its reputation has been tarnished more than its fair share in recent years. No, failing isn’t pleasant, but it is a constructive part of the creative process and of life in general.
Sure, if we succeeded at everything we did, our lives would be filled with happiness and packed with convenience. But, this happiness and convenience would be empty and artificial since, without the possibility of failure, our successes wouldn’t be such great accomplishments. We would be leading easy lives void of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Without the possibility of failure, we would also strip ourselves of the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. We would never have the chance to go back to the drawing board and create something better than we had originally imagined. As a result, our personal growth would be stunted and the betterment of society would be stagnant.
So, instead of comparing and complaining about our battle scars, let's make some new ones for the chance at creating something wonderful! And, instead of giving in to our fear of failure under the guise of effortless cool and, in the process, letting our “gift[s] rot,” let’s be courageous and share them with the world! For, as psychologist, author, and radio personality David Viscott related in his book entitled, "Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times: A Book of Meditations," "The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away."