Seeking approval killed me. Or maybe killed the creative rebel inside me.
Whatever the truth may be, I have decided to not seek approval from anyone, anymore; at least not for my creative work and for being myself.
I used to ask myself whether I shall continue writing because I had lost all the hope in my written words.
As if suddenly the words have lost all the power I thought they possess to change the world around you and me.
The doubt, “Is there a writer within me?” almost drowned me into hopelessness.
They all consented I’m not a writer forget about being a good one. And I suppose the common consensus was it is just a passing phase, and I’ll overcome it soon. I began to think that I won’t make it as a full-time writer.
There were times I wrote privately and not bothering to share it with anyone because I was too afraid to share. Afraid to feel embarrassed in public. Afraid of comments and opinions of others.
I silently wished that someone shall read my work and praise it. Always hoping in silence to be appreciated.
Instead of writing and sharing, I waited.
Waited too long for someone to say –
“I like your writing.”
“When are you going to publish?”
It never came because I never wrote anything. And when I began to write, I never shared – a sure shot way to fail.
I waited like a hollow cauldron to be filled with approval and validation.
If someone approves or said – it’s good to go, then I would share.
After sharing I would wait for positive responses, upvotes and likes on social media platforms. I waited for encouragement from near and dear ones.
Sometimes, just to keep my heart, near and dear ones said, “Good.”
And sometimes they tried to explain why I shouldn’t write or would say:
1. You shouldn’t be a writer
2. You don’t have it
3. There are already thousands of others writing better than you, what’s the point?
4. What different are you going to write?
And so on.
And finally, it was time for me to either to let go the endless desire to see myself as a writer or work towards it and grow as a writer.
The choice as always was mine. And at any given moment of your creative pursuit, the choice will be yours and yours only.
I had to decide. I decided to write.
Do you need to seek approval for your creative work?
Why? For that, you now have to imagine with me.
Now, imagine a loss.
Imagine the loss of a dream, the loss of a future Da Vinci, Whitman, Rimbaud, Bukowski, Puzo, Van Gogh, Wright Brothers, Howard Hughes, etc.
Imagine the loss of Sense and Sensibility. And the loss of The Old Man and the Sea.
Imagine Elon Musk asking you, me or anyone else whether he should start SpaceX or Tesla Motors.
Imagine Travis Kalanick waiting for the world to give him an approval for trying the driverless car. Or starting Uber cab service.
Imagine Jack Ma waiting for your and my approval to start Alibaba.
Imagine if they all waited for an approval and never got it.
We would have never read or seen any of their creative work.
Now imagine –
What our world would have been like without their creative work, can you?
Can’t imagine, no?
Creative minds with lofty dreams have immense potential to change the world around us, only if they learn not to seek approval.
If you – the creative rebel – learn to protect the creative insights by developing a fence against self-sabotaging and approval.
If you – the creative rebel – learn to be like a lotus before your dreams take a different shape and get tossed into something else.
Then…and only then you will live your dream, and perhaps the world also will.
How to overcome the need for approval?
I imagined what if I stopped writing and did not write this post or any other work. Then I thought what if I never wrote a word again. Maybe the world won’t lose anything big.
But what if it did?
What if my words bring peace, hope or simply inspire someone. What if my words help someone to get a good night sleep, not because they would be that boring. 😉
Doesn’t matter even if it reaches out only to few people. Or if only one person gets a good night sleep and that one person is me.
The primary objective is to do what you as a creative rebel are supposed to do.
For me, it is to pour words and here’s how it began
I wrote a short fiction book. Few people read it and left a review, of those 2 are verified one. Not that journey ends there, quite the opposite, just begin.
No. I’m not the best seller and I didn’t write with that intention either. I just wanted to be out there.
Before publishing that, I wrote articles related to chemical engineering.
I was scared to death before hitting publish and going live with my first article. I somehow managed to hit publish and shared. What happened next was totally unexpected – that article received more than 1K shares. That is too much for me to digest.
This first step – writing and hitting publish helped me to write a few more. Not that every article did so well like the first one but didn’t go unheard either. Love came from around the world. People liked and shared other articles, too.
Now, I write web content, fiction, non-fiction, technical (for chemical engineers) and poetry.
It was 2 at night
I wish I could describe the beauty of crescent moon
or about the starry night
but I couldn’t see, neither the moon
nor the stars,
all I could ever feel – that it was a gloomy night
and the only thing my eyes saw
or pretended to see
were the closed locked-shutters
and the watch-guards outside each shop
dozing off on the chair
like a withered flower
I couldn’t walk an inch anymore
finally, I sat on a bench
or maybe on a footpath
I don’t remember,
but it was hard
I said life is hard, too
but writing makes it easy to live that way,
That night I realised,
I don’t need the moon or the stars
nor there is any need to write about them –
to beautify or glorify my life
all I need is pen and paper
I found a friend within me
And that night
I found a writer within me
– Sumit Asrani, That night
The real watch-guard is within. The real gatekeeper is within.
You need to dip yourself into the bucket of self-reliance, where you don’t need an approval or validation of any kind.
[Related Article: Principles Creative People Follow]
Inside the deepest state of your mind, you must believe in your creative pursuit.
It will take time.
But even for that to happen, you must start. Start now. One step at a time.
Start the work you wish to do. And stop sabotaging yourself.
You need to start overcoming the need for approval.
I’m still in battle and sometimes feel sad when I receive undertone comments and replies that say, “Not so great, could have been better.”
I’ve decided, and I want you to make a decision now – No more approval for your creative work.