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Connected: Perseverance v Resilience

What strikes me about language is the close connection of words in their meaning, but the subtlety of their sentiment we wish to express requires two entirely different words; in this case the two chosen are very much connected in their use and ideology, but each represent a different stage of the journey and circumstances in which we find ourselves - those circumstances dictate the necessity to use one over the other although they both have the same root idea and that is to go on.

Powerful Perseverance

Our first contender today is perseverance which is the embodiment of getting through some tough times, whether that be creative block, stalling in ideation, lack of support or disbelief in the process, through to the other side where the ideas flow and the inspiration is endless. It requires self motivation, discipline and grit to navigate and harness the power of perseverance, especially when it comes to carving out a creative life. A distinctive mark of perseverance is the continued effort put out despite success being far off in the distance or a seemingly impossible outcome.

I like to think of perseverance as the art of doing, pushing, making, expending energy for a goal you might not yet see. The act of sticking with it and working towards the desired outcome despite obstacles and delays is the essence of this concept. When I say pushing and struggle I don’t mean it has to meet those slightly miserable conditionals at all times, perseverance may be a delightful practice at times, and it is always important to be gentle with ourselves when we are persevering on our creative paths, or any path that is serving us and is not toxic to our lives.

The best example of this is when we are able to reach the goal of living off our creativity and now have deadlines we have to meet in spite of our creative energy, in spite of our inspiration - we persevere through these rough patches of necessity to again come out on the other side where we can take the time to rest, recharge and play again. Another could be creating while working full time at a day job/career - you make the time and put in the hours for your creativity because it is important for you to do so, you persevere even though you may not have a separate creative space, even though you may be creating with a napping child on your lap or at odd hours to accommodate work.

Realizing Resilience

Perseverance is one of the necessary ingredients to embodying resilience. Where perseverance is the act of doing to move forward despite obstacles, resilience getting up after those obstacles knock you down. The circumstances have changed. You are not ploughing ahead in pursuit of a goal, you are being actively blocked from achieving that goal - being told you can’t do it, having people question your path, rejections, roadblocks. Our choice to stand again and continue on our path is resilience at work - the work we put into that is perseverance.

Resilience is the reality all creatives face at one time in their creative journey or another, often several times. The mark of a confident creative, whether we feel it at the time or not, is to stand back up when the rejection letters come, when others doubt our path, when we question our creativity. Resilience also indicates the quickness with which one is able to turn difficulties into strengths, roadblock into stepping stones. In other words, the ability to bounce back from disappointment, doubt and disillusionment with the creative life. Although it can feel good to wallow when life throws you a curveball, one of the perks of being a creative is the ability to see things from a different perspective and make the mess into a masterpiece, however minor.

It may be sounding like I’m in the neighborhood of condoning toxic positivity. You are 100% allowed to feel disappointment, be hurt by rejection and sit in the disillusionment of a broken system, however, the beauty of creativity is that we can use it as a tool to express those feelings, but pull us out of the shadows before we become part of them. Resilience is the essence of facing that darkness and standing to endure on our journey.

Connection through Creativity

Just as perseverance is a necessary piece of resilience, resilience is a necessary piece in creativity. We will always face adversity, rejection and misunderstanding, humans are after all wonderful and terrible creatures. What we are really looking for through creativity is connection - to build strength through community and understanding, and to do that we need to travel the thorny path and walk where others fear to tread in life.

The stories we tell, the tales we build through our resilience and perseverance connect us to the wider world, even when we create in isolation. Story is the human connection, it’s how we share our experience of the human condition, and when we share who we are and what we conquer, what we are still facing and working through we can reach those parts in others, and bring them to understand our choice to lead a creative life in a new way. And if we can’t then we continue on our journey by doing, seeking and rising.

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