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Purpose in Pointlessness

Holographic sticker in shape of a skull, being held in the palm of a hand

Existential dread….

How does one embrace creativity amidst feelings of existential dread and pointlessness? It’s a nagging feeling I’ve been trying to navigate lately. Instead of trying to suppress it or ignore it, what happens if I just acknowledge it? I think it’s natural to feel things like this amongst the complexities of life but how can I dig my motivation out from under the heavy weight of those feelings?

When I contemplate the vastness and absurdity that is existence, I often feel a bit paralyzed by it. Instead of finding inspiration in the exploration I end up feeling a sense of pointlessness. To be honest, for me, I generally just have to let the feelings run their course. I feel as if I can only contemplate such matters for so long before the needs of life bring me back to doing instead of thinking.

drawing of a women pulling bad thoughts from her head represented as a demonic head that is a version of herself, the hair of both the woman and the entity are shared.

It’s similar to when I’m having a panic attack because on some level, I am feeling panicked. When I am in a panic attack, getting an ice cube or focusing on my breathing can help because it brings me back to the present and the physical. The daily needs of life like chores or cooking for my family work in a similar way for me when I am feeling lost in the dread of being a decimal point inside of a decimal point among an infinite string of numbers in the vastness of existence.

Sometimes I seek community, because there are other creatives that can empathize. Unfortunately, I often find that these conversations can reinforce the thoughts because the others are just agreeing and confirming that they feel those feelings too. You know, like that adage, “Misery loves company.” However sometimes I find support, encouragement and fresh perspectives that help alleviate the heaviness a bit.

a woman in a trash can with a coffee cup on her head as a crown, she is in the trash with popular toys from the 90s like trolls and polly pocket

I usually land on trying to focus on the journey instead of its conclusions. I enjoy creating and find it fulfilling, regardless of the outcome. There is joy, satisfaction, and growth to be found in immersion in the creative process. It’s cliche but it really is important to celebrate small victories and progress that is made along the way.

To find my motivation under that mountain of morose I have to remind myself why I create in the first place and the impact I hope to have even if it doesn’t feel attainable in that moment. Realigning my creative endeavors with my core values and motivations, infuses personal meaning and significance into my creations in the face of that doubt.

Another thing that helps is to remind myself to embrace the imperfections. The creative process is imperfect and my work doesn’t always live up to my expectations, but setbacks and failures are to be expected! Imperfection is a part of life. Instead of allowing the imperfections to reinforce my sense of pointlessness I remind myself that practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes progress.

Existential dread may always cast a shadow over my creative pursuits and it may sometimes hinder them, but it doesn’t define them. I acknowledge and embrace the inherent uncertainties of life and sometimes even tap into them as a well of inspiration and creativity. Art is a powerful tool for exploration and self-expression and it can provide meaning and purpose amidst the feelings of pointlessness and dread. In my art lies the potential to discover profound truths about myself and the world.

a drawing of two humanoid shaped fish going around in a fish bowl. A hand feeds the fish from a box that resembles a phone and pours out social media symbols like hearts and likes as well as money and other things that keep humans distracted and swimming around in circles

So yeah, my art may not matter in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes I feel as if it doesn’t even matter now… but, it does matter. It matters in a zillion small and big ways to me and to those, no matter how few, enjoy it. The journey of creating anew and making small improvements and learning or honing a skill… that matters today. That matters to me.

So, if you’re reading this and feeling a bit like your efforts don’t matter… Keep going. Do it not for the end result or to echo in the halls of history, but keep going to fill yourself. Keep going for the sense of accomplishment. For the feeling of, “Holy crap I did THAT!” Your efforts and creations matter because you matter. You might not make a splash in the oceans of history but I guarantee that you and I both are sending out ripples here and now and that is enough.

a heart shaped sticker with a face on it held in the palm of a hand. The face spells out Eye Love U.

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