Curse of the Creative
I didn't watch the Grammy's Sunday night, but I DID tune in to see Demi Lovato sing. I've loved her music for a few years and was sad when she stepped away from performing after her overdose in 2018. That being said, I wasn't shocked when another talented young creative was betrayed by the system that swears to celebrate them.
Fame is difficult, immeasurably so. At yet when I watched her singing last night about the pain one can feel, about the self doubt and the yearning for some sort of genuine affection - some reassurance that what you're giving to the world has meaning and importance - I felt something similar.
You see, creatives... we're often a lot more sensitive than we let on. People who can pen a song, a poem, or a story about their emotions can be both extremely vulnerable and also very good at hiding their insecurities. We learn how to mask emotions, only unleashing them in outlets that are deemed safe; and so our souls become tied to our craft. We ride the highs and lows with such emotional intensity that we cannot help but become one with our endeavors, their successes becoming so much our soul's own that we fail to differentiate between the fantasies we have created and the real lives we lead.
Every craft is deeply personal. Whether we paint, sculpt, draw, design, photograph, write in story, script, or song; our work showcases our desires, our needs, and our fears. We can see things we wish would happen to us, our fantasies laid bare in our latest creation.
I'm no musician, and I don't write music. I have incredible respect and awe for those that do, and for those that perform songs that speak to the highs and lows of a life lived in rich color. And though my stories don't carry such visible emotional projection as a song can, storytellers often base our work in the subconscious cravings of our lives.
However, writing's attempt at soul-bearing is often, at least in fiction, veiled and guarded. We cannot come right out and say, "Please. Someone. Anyone. Can you hear me? Am I worth it?" And so we show our vulnerabilities by masking them in prose or poetry. We develop characters who are lonely to battle our own sense of insecurities. We create characters who grieve so that we can find our own peace in the wake of loss. We dare not dwell on these things, even in our own minds, and so we bury them in story lines, so hidden that we forget even our own desires and desperations.
At times, the characters we create are people we wish we knew. Sometimes they are people we do know but wish were different; the lover that scorned us, the parent who failed in their support, the friend whose betrayal still stings.
Sometimes we wish we lived as our characters, or at least in their world.
And sometimes, our characters are better than those in our everyday lives; more the people we wish we knew than those we know already.
I have heard many stories - more than I can count - of people who have bared their soul, only to be shot down as they rose to heaven. I know many who pick themselves up, over and over again. Rejection, harsh critiques, and an ever changing market are the enemies of a sensitive soul. And the funny thing is, we don't even need them. We do an awfully good job at sabotaging ourselves, telling ourselves we aren't good enough to make it and even when we DO succeed, that voice keeps chanting, dully in the back of our mind, reminding us that it was just a fluke, we're a one hit wonder and no one will remember us tomorrow. We listen to that voice, afraid of failure, because it's better to be hurt by one we know than one we don't… and we know ourselves so well.
I don't know much about Demi Lovato's past or personal life, and I choose to keep it that way because I try and remember that our favorite people are just that - people - who struggle like I do. And I don't know whether last night's performance was genuinely hard for her, or whether she's got Oscar-worthy acting chops. But I can tell you that what I saw was a woman, standing before the world, asking if maybe, just maybe, there are second chances and if we are all worthy of love.
I think there are, and I wish I could tell her so.