On Following Your Passion When Everything Sucks
This is a heavier post, but I think it's important to share your experiences if they could be helpful to someone else. I know if I've been through something, others have too.
Maybe you're there right now, and you're tired of hearing all this crap about following dreams, because you just can't.
Maybe you want to follow your highest excitement but you are so depressed that you can't feel excited about anything. I know what that's like. It's frustrating. It can add a whole new layer to your feelings of worthlessness.
When you're struggling just to survive, whether with depression, poverty, illness, or something else, it can be hard to imagine a way out—never mind a way to live some dream life. I've been through all of that and more, and found a way out. I found more than I believed possible.
I'll tell you what I learned.
When you're deeply unhappy, trying to be happy might be the worst thing to do. Anyone insisting otherwise to your face is also risking getting punched in their face. It's like someone showing up to make balloon animals when you're bleeding to death. In my experience, this "just be happy" attitude leads to feeling like a failure—and more unhappiness. Happiness can't be forced. It's also not usually that important to someone in a crisis anyway.
Finding your passion is almost impossible when you're too depressed to feel anything, but you can find things that make you feel a bit less shitty. You don't need to make a huge leap from depressed to everything being perfect and amazing. Just do your best to stay pointed in the right direction.
When you become physically unable to do what you used to love, you have to find a way to let it go—at least in the form it once took—so you can find what you will love doing now. This isn't necessarily bad. It's how I became a published author, after all.
Creators need to create, and we are all creators. Neglecting creativity can make you feel depressed and not like yourself. Making something every day, even if it's a bad page of writing about how much everything sucks, is extremely helpful.
No matter how terrible life seems, your state of being is your greatest tool. It can be an enormous help to you, but you need to learn how to address it from the roots.
So how do you climb out of the deep, dark, pit you're in when it feels like there's a thousand pound boulder pinning you down?
Make your new goals not about happiness or passion, but neutrality and flow.
It sounds boring, but it's extremely not.
Neutrality is power and control. It's freedom. It's a blank slate that gives you the choice to do what you want and feel what you want. Fuck happiness. That takes the pressure off a little, doesn't it?
And when I say flow, I just mean to keep your energy flowing rather than bottled up. Let things out. Continuously. Letting things flow out is the first step to letting happiness, inspiration, and other good things flow in.
Once you've decided to begin this exciting quest for neutrality and flow, how do you do it?
Basically, you need to stop giving a shit about what doesn't matter—which is almost everything. When you feel heavy and negative and depressed, you're investing too much energy into something worthless—like ideas about how shitty you are or how shitty life is. None of that is going to help you, and it's time to deal with it.
If you want out of the darkness, the key is in the darkness.
When you feel something is off, whether it's just a little or it's an extreme emotional crisis, that's your signal that something is wrong and you need to acknowledge it.
Bringing your darkness into the light is how you bring yourself into the light.
What would help you address and let go of what feels off? If you can find a strategy you like that helps you process negativity you can feel gradually better, and one day you will suddenly realize you are happy enough to find your passion and follow it.
When thinking about what strategy you'd like to use, remember that the idea is to go fully into the negative feeling to understand it and let it run it's course—so preferably choose something ridiculous and angsty, not something that merely distracts you.
Write bad poetry, rant in your journal, or draw how you feel. Let it out while looking it in the eye. Be brave. Don't censor yourself. And try not to judge.
Then let it go. Get rid of the art or bad poetry or rant. Learn from it and move on. Find the neutral place where you understand that none of it mattered. Be more badass. Be honest with yourself—which basically means remembering that you're better than all of this.
Once you have a system for facing the darkness, it will only get smaller. If you keep at it long enough it will one day be gone, leaving only a light space that you can fill with whatever good things you want.
When I reflect on how things once were compared to how they are now, it's hard to believe. I never would have thought I could feel a light space instead of the heavy darkness there was. But I do. I know that you can too.
I know it probably sounds like merely a sales pitch, but please read this part too. I wrote Create Now to help people through all of this, and other struggles common to artists and creative types. It has proven itself to be a transformative and inspiring book. It has helped me from extreme depression to extreme inspiration. It's powerful and it works.
If you need an easy and clear system for addressing your darkness, finding purpose, excitement, and inspiration, I don't know of a better option. I'd give everyone a copy for free if I could, but I'm not Oprah. So if you need help, consider finding a way to get it, or borrow it from the library. If you know a creative type who is struggling, it might be a nice gift to them too. It's not a preachy or difficult book. It's mostly just fun and encouraging!
More info is at marloland.com/createnow
Rather than tucking it all away in books or paid courses, I would love to keep this information flowing freely to everyone. Doing this takes takes real time, energy, and money though, so if you would like to support this work you may help by buying my book or leaving a donation. If spending money isn't an option, that's okay! Sharing my work with your friends would be great too.