While I don’t buy into hustle culture, I accept that the creative grind is real. The grind that feels like a necessary response to our growing anxiety around job insecurity and unclear financial futures. Our environment and economies are reaching an intimately connected breaking point. Many of us feel powerless to create any big change and, in response—instead of finding ways to numb out and disconnect from the painful reality in which we live—we grind away at the creative work we feel called to do.
This has been especially true for me over the past four months. Something shifted at the beginning of the year and the creative grind has became the only grind I am interested in participating in. I think this happened in large part because my anxiety around my financial future was surpassed by my anxiety around environmental and social collapse. With that shift, the only thing that made sense to me anymore was to focus all my efforts on making art and supporting my creative community.
Of course, I have bills to pay and haven’t fully opted out of participating in capitalism. At the same time, I have started to get more clear about where I need to be spending my energy and creative efforts. Not because I’m financially sorted and don’t have to worry about making money but because I am certain that art is the antidote to the many levels of suffering that are poisoning us right now. If I am going to spend the majority of my days working then my productivity has to benefit the social change I want to see in the world.
The challenge then becomes making the creative grind feel worth it. As much as we might want to enact change through effort alone, our inner creatives need to feel cared for in such a way that they’re willing to come out and play. And while people have always made art despite the many atrocities raging around them, we do not need to sacrifice ourselves for our art. Nor do we need to suffer unnecessarily in order to create the work that matters to us. Pain, lack, and hunger are not the price we pay for being creatives.
Personally, having access to a creative community that understands me and my creative vision makes the grind feel worth it. Having opportunities to collaborate and create art in a collective way makes the grind feel worth it. Carving out time in my day to exercise and take care of my body makes the grind feel worth it. Knowing that the work I’m creating is providing others with a platform to speak their truth makes the grind feel worth it. Knowing that my economic contributions are rooted in empathy and healing makes the grind feel worth it.
What makes the creative grind feel worth it to you?