The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

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SirMustapha
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The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

Post by SirMustapha » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:00 pm

I, as a person, have a dire need for approval. It affects a lot of areas of my life, and has affected me for a long time before I managed to realise it; and, as you can guess, it kinda sucks. Because I keep doubting myself and being afraid of not being good enough in the eyes of others (worsened by my tendency of expecting the worse), I procrastinate a lot, I get embarrassed of promoting my work, I feel afraid of meeting and talking other people, and so on and on. I realise this is something that must change, at least in my day to day life and in my profession, but, as an artist, I think there's another side to this.

See, artistically, I also feel afraid of being poorly judged, and I get a huge boost of confidence whenever I do something that other people like. I realise I can't be a prisoner of other people's tastes, I can't surrender my artistic integrity for what others want to get, and I must always strive to meet my own ambitions... however, I make art for other people as well. When I write, I want others to read. When I make music, I want others to listen to. I think the artist's role in the world is to be seen. And I think this "I should respect my artistic integrity" attitude has the darker aspect of "I don't care if everything I do is crap and I'm a lazy jerk who doesn't practice and study, I should only please myself". I think my "need for approval" can be a way to counterbalance my tendency to self-congratulate and find some flimsy justification for every bad artistic decision I make, but it can also be a paralysing, terrifying thing sometimes. I just wonder if any of you have ever thought about this and found ways to remain on the healthy side of it. More specifically, I wonder if this "oh my god somebody likes me!" feeling I get whenever someone praises me is something I should try to tone down. I won't deny, I like some ego stroking once in a while, but how self-confident should I be so that the praise doesn't get to me so much? Could it help me take the criticism in a more tranquil, less anxious way? Or maybe I should keep training myself not to expect the worst?

Tricky question, I know, and I don't expect to get "answers". Just thought it's an interesting thing to ponder about.
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Re: The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

Post by gkscotty » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:15 pm

I completely understand your position. I can't really create things just for my own enjoyment, I want others to enjoy it too and to know that they did (and if they didn't like it, I'd perfer that they tell me in a constructive way.)

I don't know if there IS an answer? I think it's just the different ways people are wired.
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Re: The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

Post by c_nordlander » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:23 pm

I think Steve said it about as well as it could be said.

Personally, while I respect people who create things purely for themselves, that is very alien to me. Writing is *work*; more enjoyable than most work, but still work. I don't sit in an office eight hours a day because I enjoy filing documents, and I write because I want at least a minimum amount of recognition and/or money for it. If I were the last person on Earth, I'd go off and find some morphine instead. :D
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SirMustapha
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Re: The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

Post by SirMustapha » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:48 pm

c_nordlander wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:23 pm
(...) and I write I want at least a minimum amount of recognition and/or money for it. If I were the last person on Earth, I'd go off and find some morphine instead. :D
That's a brilliant way of putting it! ;D

I guess one of the issues here is that both ends of this spectrum often get glorified. I've read stories about how some jazz circles can get isolated by the culture of competition and one-upmanship among musicians, which makes the music more complex, more insular, and more alienating for listeners. This, I think, is the extreme example of the need of approval and validation from fellow artists (I won't even touch on the subject of "selling out" to get validation from mass audiences; I think we all know how crap is that). On the other extreme end, there are musicians that are so pleased with getting validation only from themselves that their art becomes meaningless for anyone else, and the cult of the "unique" artist strengthens that; that is, if no one understands you, that only proves how different and complex you are. ... and doesn't help that, sometimes, artists are simply lazy and careless.

I think I'm pretty safe from both ends; I hate the idea of art as an Olympic sport, and I never trusted my "uniqueness" to justify sloppiness (... well, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to practising and studying, but I don't treat that as a virtue). However, I am pretty insecure when it comes to what others think of me, and that still makes it difficult to face criticism; that is, I understand the need for criticism and urge to get it, but it affects me emotionally more than it should. I feel the constant need for people to tell me I'm good enough to be an artist, I guess, like I need "permission" to do this. That may be one reason why I never tried to promote my music too much: I was scared that I would be denied that "permission". Perversely enough, when I receive more enthusiastic praise, I get nervous, because I feel maybe they're seeing talent that isn't there, and that I might disappoint them when they realise I'm not that good.

But I'm glad to be on the same page with you regarding how we make art for others. I see my music and my writing as a means to reach out to people and create a connection. There is an element of egotism and self-satisfaction, but that's just one part of it. Seeing how my stuff affects people is a massive pleasure (I have genuinely moved people to tears with my music, and, trust me, I wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world). This is the kind of "need for validation" that I find valid, even necessary. It's the "authorization" thing that bothers me, and I think I just need to learn to differentiate both feelings.

... and if I were the last person on Earth, I'd probably keep making music for my own amusement, but I think I'd spend much more time looking for that morphine.
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Re: The need for approval and its pitfalls... and benefits?

Post by Archonix » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:28 pm

And then there's those of us that want the morphine no dammit, because it would make writing fractionally less painful and probably inspire some crazy batshittery, like painting a mural with paprika and turmeric. World's ending? Great! No more critics!
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