When Do You Know You’re “Doing It”?

I realize after typing the title of this post how that might sound. But I’m standing by it – not just because the middle schooler in me is going “heh. She said ‘doing it'”, but because I feel like several other writers, artists, or otherwise self-employed creatives out there will have a lot of resonance with this.

When do you know you’re “doing it”?

The “doing it” here can mean any number of things: Being a badass author, living out your dream of being an actor, making a name for yourself as an artist.

No matter your creative expression, I find that there is some imaginary line between “not doing it” and “doing it.” Between “still struggling,” and “made it.” And between “not good enough,” and “enough.”

What I’m asking, I suppose, is when do we know we’ve really done enough?

I’m putting this out there, not just because I see it in my own life over and over. But because I see it in so many artist’s lives over and over. I have a friend who is a visual artist, musician, and general Renaissance man. To those of us on the outside, it seems like he’s “doing it.” He’s booked at gigs all over the world; his art is visionary; he seems to live an exciting and creatively-fueled life.

But recently I learned that this seemingly-successful fellow does not see himself in this way at all.

Another friend is an actress – someone I admire and would actually like to get to know better. But the thing is, the woman is always busy. She seems to be booking shows left and right, teaching classes, doing standup. In my mind, she is making waves and kicking ass at what she loves.

But I wonder if she sees it that way. I wonder if she knows that to those of us on the outside, she’s nailing this whole acting career thing.

And then there’s me. For the past eight years or so, I’ve categorized myself on the side of “not doing it.” On the side of “still struggling,” “still working at it,” and “not where I want to be” in my writing career. In my mind, it’s less of a gradient and more like two sides divided by a line. I’m either “there,” or “not there.” And until I’m there, that must mean I’m not there, right?

But what if it isn’t so simple? What if there are not two sides at all, and no gradient, and nothing but:

Here.

Here is where we all are, in this moment. It’s all we’ve got. It’s the place where our stories slip from our lips, telling half-truths to anyone who will listen. In this way we create our own realities: coffins confining us, or open spaces to explore.

So what if, artists and creators, we merely choose to tell a different story – from here?

What if we forget about judging ourselves, just for a moment, for not being where we want to be just yet? For not making the impact we’ve hoped to?

For not “doing it”?

Because if you start from here, just here, you might notice that you’re doing a lot more than you thought. Give yourself some credit.

And maybe, just maybe, start to listen when people tell you what a great job you’re doing. Let it sink in.

You may be making more of an impact than you think.

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