Understanding, Belonging, And Why We Need You To Reach Out

image: dan james

Two of the fundamental needs of human beings are understanding and participation.

Understanding includes our ability to understand ourselves and the world around us, but also understanding, and being understood by, other people.

Participation is about having a role and a place in a group or community, feeling we contribute, and that we belong to something greater than the island of just us.

Both of these needs are as vital for us artists as anyone.

Maybe they’re even more important, as we have the need for our own understanding and participation as people, as well as an additional need for the understanding (by ourselves and others) of our work.

We each need to share what we create, and have it seen, experienced and enjoyed by others.

So how do we fulfil these essential needs?

Like many areas of life, by flipping it around and asking how can we help others fulfil their needs in these areas, we find that our own naturally become more satisfied too.

Both understanding and participation require us to be a part of a community.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find and connect with other people who share similar passions and interests, other artists also trying to find their best ways to express themselves.

In fact as you’re reading this, you’re already connected to hundreds of other artists also reading the same words.

Even if you’re not communicating with them directly, even if they’re not right there sat next to you, they are there. We are here.

By reaching out to help and encourage other artists, we discover and develop the relationships that nurture our own work.

The ones that stop us from succumbing to those unpleasant feelings of being isolated and alone and creating in a void, that can stop our creativity dead in its tracks.

I know you know the ones I’m talking about.

It’s pretty likely that currently you’re not reaching out and connecting with other artists as much as you could be.

Why wouldn’t you, if there are such benefits to be gained?

Two things commonly stop us.

1. We think it’s too hard.

This act of reaching out to others might sound difficult or grand, but in fact it’s very much easier than you realise.

Other artists are more accessible to us than ever. You don’t have to go searching the streets.

We have the ability to fairly easily find a way to get a message to them, one way or another, through one of the places they reside (or have a presence) online.

Whether you make it a comment on a public forum they hang out on, post a reply on their blog or website, or drop them a private message, you have the ability to get your words, your thoughts, your support and encouragement, directly to them.

Which brings us to the second reason we don’t reach out more.

2. We think our opinion and encouragement don’t matter.

“Why would another artist take any notice of what little old me has to say? I’m no-one special…”, is something you might often think.

Let’s turn it around. If another artist left you an encouraging comment on your blog, or sent you a couple of lines in an email to say how much they enjoyed your latest work, what would it mean to you?

Would it matter? Of course it would!

Similarly, your thoughts and words and encouragement matter to other artists.

If no-one ever commented or praised another artist, just imagine how much less beautiful, incredible artwork would be created.

Just imagine how many of us would retreat into our shells, entering an indefinite and miserable artistic hibernation because we thought no-one else cared about what we’re creating.

Just imagine how much poorer place our world would be without so many amazing artists (yes, artists like you and I) stepping out and bringing our work into being.

All you need to do is participate a little more. It’s not hard.

Talk to us, share with us, belong with us.

It matters.


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