Maybe Starving Artists Deserve to Go Hungry

Image by Eric Perlin from Pixabay

There is a misguided, rather antiquated notion that we must suffer greatly for our passions. Though the concept of pining away for something out of reach is all fluffy and romantic, I call bullshit.

Ever heard of Jeremy Renner? Well, at the time of this blog post, he is a sought-after thespian. Every now and then he’ll show up in a leading role (i.e., The Hurt Locker and The Bourne Legacy) but most times, he is playing second banana (The Town), or maybe be a smaller part of an ensemble cast. To the latter, I’m sure the paychecks he’s earned portraying the almost-forgettable Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks are nothing to sneeze at. However, one thing Renner learned early on is that Hollywood can be fickle as hell. While many actors hoping for that big break spend their time waiting tables, Jeremy got great at flipping houses.

The dinosaurs went extinct because they could not adapt to change. Though most of humankind would be wiped out by a meteoric collision, noxious gases, and another ice age, the things threatening our existence when it comes to grinding in other pastures are not as immediately life-threatening.

And maybe that’s the problem.

There’s a scene from Fight Club in which Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and the unnamed protagonist (Ed Norton) run into a minimum wage slacker. Durden seizes the poor dude’s ID card and threatens his life at gunpoint. Tyler tells him that, if he isn’t taking the classes and avidly working on what he dreamed he would be (a veterinarian, if memory serves) in a certain amount of time, he will be murdered. Though we never see the victim again, my guess is that he promptly enrolled in classes at a local college and was well on his way.

It’s all about motivation and drive.

There are exceptions but, for the most part, starving artists go hungry because they refuse to adapt to the changing circumstances. Honestly, it’s lazy thinking to allow yourself to be a one-trick pony in a carnival full of opportunity.

Trust me, being a writer and artist, it was a challenge sticking to careers in the military and law enforcement. Being a creative thinker often clashes with a stiff set of rules. I had to do some serious adaptation.

Here are some concepts to consider:

1. Don’t quit your day job just yet. Continue to do what it takes to keep the roof over your head and food on the table. You may want to become a bestselling author, an entertainer, or the second coming of Pablo Picasso but, in the meantime, you need to eat. Though wasting away in a cubicle farm isn’t the dream of most, use that financial predictability as the backbone of your empire. I’m not saying to stay in a place you hate forever; do what you have to do so that, down the line, you’ll be able to do what you want to do.

2. Create a map that gets you to where you want to be in life. Write down your goals and be as detailed as possible. Next, take a look around and find something you can do to supplement your income beyond the basic necessities. Draft a plan that prompts you to attain measurable goals on a realistic timeline.

3. Allow your mind to regulate and help find the balance with the free spirit of your heart. It’s okay to dislike your current job while loving that it provides the basic necessities while you do other things to supplement your income. And, whenever you get discouraged or fall behind, picture Tyler Durden with a gun to the head of a loved one.

4. Make the decision not to starve in order to prove worthiness. Adapt, evolve, and feast well.

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