When you finally make it home and close the door behind you, who do you become? Are you the lady who loves on her dog and shops like a lunatic online? Are you the dude who grabs a beer and plays Fortnite for hours? Maybe you’re married, eat dinner with your family, then watch another shitty episode of American Idol. Me? I love to waste ALL my time and energy on things that offer absolutely nothing in return. Seriously, it’s my favorite.
I Write A lot Words That Don’t Get Read
If you were somehow under the impression my stories garner massive attention, rake in large amounts of cash, and lead to lucrative publishing deals, congratulations, you played yourself! My writing does jack-shit.
Usually, 30 people see my work; half of them read.
I make about $15/month on Medium.
Rarely do I get people telling me my writing matters.
But guess what? I do it anyway.
Despite little-to-no tangible upside, I still find myself writing words, planning stories, and spending copious amounts of time working on plots, punctuation, and grammar… for no “real” return.
Why? I’ll get to that in a sec.
I Lift Weights But You Can’t Really Tell
I go to the gym every single day. (Okay, most* days.) When I’m in the weight room, I push myself to the point of pain and fatigue; I’ve been doing this on a weekly basis for the past 9 years since I started high school.
Now, not to sound too douchey, but I go hard in the gym — I put in work till I’m entirely exhausted, both physically and mentally. However, that said, if you saw me walking down the street, you would never think to yourself: “oh dang, that guy lifts!”
My point is, I do something difficult, challenging, and tiresome everyday for basically nothing. I don’t have a modeling career. I’m not sponsored by Gym Shark. I can’t even lift that much, nor do I look that great.
But guess what? I do it anyway.
I’m a Psychopath When It Comes to Music
The last thing on my list of things that require unnecessary, out-of-pocket focus and energy is music production. I spend ridiculous amounts of time thinking, extracting, and orchestrating ideas from my head to a computer.
I’m really hard on myself, too.
I am relentlessly meticulous and detailed in whatever I’m working on. I spend hours tweaking 15-seconds of a single composition. I force myself to stay up late and mix projects so they sound just right.
And (you guessed it) I get nothing in return. I have no record deals. I don’t get paid . I don’t even have a fan base. I’m not saying I need those things either, I’m saying I do all this and expect very little in return.
The Reason Why I Work Super Hard For Free
So, what’s wrong with me? What drives me to partake in this delusional behavior of do-hard-crap-for-crumbs?
Well, I’ve been lying to you.
While I don’t get anything directly from writing, going to the gym, and making music, I am rewarded in abstract, roundabout kind of ways; I’m rewarded with things you can’t see, or hold, or use to buy stuff.
I’m paid in the form of skills, character, and a sense of self-actualization.
As mystical as that sounds, listen.
By writing, I learn how to think and become a better communicator. By going to the gym, I fortify my mind and body, rep after rep. By making music, I confront my intuitions and emotions and express them openly. The benefits I reap are contained wholly within myself because I do them. Most importantly, the fact I get nothing extrinsically proves this:
I do these things because I really f*cking care about them.
It’s in me to make stuff.
It’s in me to become better.
It’s in me to bring inspiration to fruition.
To me, it doesn’t matter if anyone gives me stuff for it — I don’t care if I’m recognized or praised or not. I do it because I want to.
In life, I think when you constantly try to milk everything and get some sort of “kick-back” from the work you do, that taints and restricts who you can potentially become. For instance, if I relied heavily on readership for my writing, guess what? I wouldn’t write anymore. If I valued likes and comments about the way my body looks, I wouldn’t work out anymore. If I needed thousands of streams and plays to feel good about my music, I wouldn’t produce music anymore.
Do you see what I’m saying?
It’s silly to think you’re entitled to results because you work hard for it. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. Life isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you deserve. So suck it up and keep going. I am who I am because I’m motivated from within; I work with no regard for external payoff. My logic is this: if I work hard and long enough, I’ll continue to get better. If I continue to get better (and learn from my mistakes), maybe one day I’ll be rewarded for my efforts…
So that’s a hope I have in the future.
Till then, I’ll keep doing it anyway.