To be or not to be … that is the question. When Hamlet speaks those words he is contemplating suicide and death while waiting for Ophelia. Has this blog taken a turn for the worse? Is this guy a tortured artist?No it hasn’t and maybe a little bit. However, to be or not to be, really is the question that some of us ask when we consider how we practice our craft.
My topic this week stems from the identity versus role dilemma. It is a pretty well known psychosocial development theory and is a question that has a lot of us perplexed beyond our development years. I recall a sales training program I was in, there was a real push for us to identify and then separate our role and identity with the reason being that you can’t take your role personally. On one hand I do think there is some merit to the idea of having some sort of separation with what you do and who you are, otherwise you would end up taking work home with you and that can be detrimental to your well being. As an aside this is beyond taking pride and ownership in your work. On the other hand it is difficult to be an artist and not put a little bit or in most cases, a hell of a lot, of yourself into your work and not take it personally when your work is rejected or criticized. One’s identity is defined as, “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is”, and on the flip side of that, the definition of a role is, “a part that someone or something has in a particular activity or situation”. In my experience, the definitions are pretty similar, so what happens when the two become one?
My wife has been saying for the past 20 plus years that she wishes she could wake up one morning and not want to be on stage, on set in front of a camera or at an audition. The passion she has is both uplifting and heart wrenching, she is an actor. When she is performing, the words she speaks comes from a place that is honest and vulnerable, it is beautiful to watch. Whether it is dialogue that she or someone else has penned, she knows that the audience isn’t going to be engaged or care unless she is able to convey some emotion to draw them in. What that means is pouring herself into her role and when you experience that bit of magic, I will say once again, it is beautiful to watch, but that vulnerability comes at a cost.
Could you imagine a world where creatives were disinterested or disengaged. We would be lifeless, soulless entities (we would be my WSBC Case Manager). When we create something how can we not put a bit of our heart and soul into our work? Whether it is a signature dish, a new cocktail, a piece of jewelry, a painting, a logo or a vector drawing, something has inspired you to do it. Whatever that thing was that inspired you, it inspired you and you alone, it made you feel something. So immerse yourself in your work, if you do, your passion will be felt by your audience and you will both be rewarded for it.