Bhavdeep Dhanjal

March 4, 2021

Understanding our value

This is something that I wrote for myself sometime back. I hope it helps someone out there.

Rejection is not directly dependent on the value that you bring.
Don’t let it snowball into making you feel worse about other things. Someone rejecting you for a feature in their poetry magazine or a date does not mean that you suck at cooking. It does not even necessarily mean that you suck at poetry or are an unwanted partner.

Realise that events are not one dimensional light beams in time. There are a billion external bulbs and lights that influence a single event. Sometimes things are not a great fit for a myriad of reasons. Feeling bad about it consistently will slow your growth and stagnate you. I have learnt that rejections provide the biggest source of learnings if I allow it to happen.

Acceptance is a byproduct of doing what you are interested in and enjoy doing. If you keep chasing acceptance as an indicator of your value then it will always be dependent on all those random bulbs glowing at the same time, all the time.

Don’t fret over originality so much.
Every act of creation derives itself from its creator and the environment which shaped that creator. Everyone starts out creating by copying things or being heavily inspired by someone. Over time, it becomes a mixture of several influences that becomes indistinguishable from the creator.

I have realised that the core reason for feeling bad for not creating something novel is our ego. Feeling like an imposter makes us uncomfortable and attacks us personally. Take a step back from yourself and create. There’s a lot to learn from your influences. All great guitar players started by learning the covers of their heroes. All painters started by mimicking what they saw around. Don’t mistake the result of creation to be validation but that of the existence of the work itself.

This is not to be mistaken for not chasing originality. Try your best to be novel, but acknowledge your roots. Remember, we can push the boundaries to new areas, but we can’t make them. This realisation is rooted in humility and dedication to your work.

Society’s insistence on validation will drive you crazy.
Society pushes you to believe that work and art are completely black and white and what one group says dictates the quality of what you create. This spawns a cycle of seeking outward validation and gauging our value based off on that. This happens because of the culture of idolisation. We appreciate someone, a friend, someone on the internet and we correlate everything that they say with a blanket bar of quality that we need to aspire to.

Recognise when to separate appreciation from the biased need for validation. The need for validation exacerbates insecurities whether you get validation or not. Remember, confidence isn’t feeling better than others or better than some imaginary level, confidence is not having to compare at all.

Work on growing your understanding of your craft. This understanding will dictate your progress. It is highly improbable to grow meaningfully without this.

Don’t get sucked in creation purgatory.
I have had a thought with me for a long time that drives me to work —

“Consumption is despicable, creation is beautiful.”

The reasoning behind this is that too much consumption is gluttony and makes us lethargic and prone to comparison - with the craft that I admire and consume. But this also has the potential of driving you crazy and make you feel shit at the end of the day. This directly lowers your confidence in yourself.

It is okay to let go and sit and consume what makes you feel good. Appreciate the need for consumption. Can’t produce anything on an empty stomach/soul.

Create meaningful relationships with people that are away from personal bias and vested interests. Sometimes you will feel worthless and fail to see the value in yourself. Don’t look for validation on your work from them. Look for reassurance to continue.

Pursuing a skill or craft is not an easy thing. Don’t let ephemeral feelings come in the way of persistent effort.

Take a deep breath.