A writer friend was grappling with her perceived reality about her talent, dream and relevance. In our online group, she wrote:
“…I cannot write. I am average at best, and my voice is meaningless. I'm clearly irrelevant. So my goal this week is to clear this passion and dream I've had since elementary school completely.”
Other writers and I rallied around her, trying to help her process these feelings of failure. And while artists are particularly prone to questioning their talent and significance, these questions plague many.
It got me thinking about the idea of relevance. Is my writing relevant or irrelevant? Will it ever have significant impact? What about my life in general has relevance? What is irrelevant?
My answer is that relevance can only be defined by the individual.
It’s about what matters to me, not what matters to the world. Do I hope to make a significant contribution to the world? Sure. Do I hope to leave the world better than I found it by doing so? If I can, yes. Am I actively pursuing those ideals? Every single day.
To my friend, I wrote that passion is innate, but craft can be improved and nurtured, and to define her own relevance—as much of what she’d based her feelings on were the input of others or comparison to others. Plenty of writers from our group also chimed in, where we collectively acted as buoys until she could float on her own. And float she did before week’s end, realizing the truths she needed to carry on.
Don’t let the world, or others, define your relevance, tell you what success looks like or squelch your dream.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Donald Hustad:
“Somehow, about forty percent of churchgoers seem to have picked up the idea that singing in church is for singers. The truth is that singing is for believers. The relevant question is not ‘Do you have a voice?’ but ‘Do you have a song?’”
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