Compelled to Create: Doing What You Must, Not What You Should

Each year Adobe hosts MAX, a conference for creatives. Graphic designers, web UX/UI designers, video producers, and motion graphic designers pile into downtown LA with marketing analysts, journalists and other interested parties to discuss the latest in Adobe improvements, partnerships and innovations. Each year leaves a few thousand attendees dazzled, entertained and optimistic about the future of creative work and the tools necessary to complete work. 
This year was no different, however an interesting message emerged above and beyond the usual product announcements and techno-jargon. The day 2 keynote address had very little to do with specific Adobe tools. In fact, it had little to do with the companies involved with the conference at all, and it focused on each of the artists in attendance. Not just on selling them something, or impressing a new way of doing business. It had more to do with empowering the 7,000 people in the audience to do. Do what you must, as opposed to what you should. 
That message, specifically, came from Elle Luna, a startup executive-turned successful artist and speaker. But she wasn’t the only one sharing her story of de-shackling, soul searching and dream following. The entire keynote addressed a common theme: there are guidelines, paths, and boundaries laid out in an effort to steer each of us toward a future. A set of shoulds. We should attend a good university, we should apply for jobs with blue chip firms, we should marry and procreate, we should sell the guitar to pay for pre-school, we should invest in retirement savings, we should play it safe.
While all of those things can be good, and they can be right for many of us, the theme harkened back to Steve Jobs’ epic statement declaring that everything around us was created by people no smarter than ourselves and that with that awareness and understanding we are empowered with the absolute knowledge that any one of us can change things. Or something along those lines. Steve said it a tad more eloquently, as was his way.
In addition to Luna, the lineup included rogue director Baz Luhrmann, omni-artiste Maira Kalman, and Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton. Each artist, photographer, director, or visionary spoke to this same idea: There are things inside each of us that must come out. There are things we must do. What we love, and what we are passionate about are actually one and the same with who we are as people, and how we spend our time is a direct relation to how true to ourselves we are being. 
This realization, that our creativity and passion are distinctly what define us as people, can be life altering. My music is who I am. My editing style is who I am. How I photograph my dogs is who I am. 
This is heavy stuff.
Now, all of us can’t quit our day jobs and hop into a VW van with the band and hit the road. There are realities in our society with which we must at least acknowledge and play along with – you know, until the band gets signed. But keeping that fundamental ideal in our minds can lead us to a fuller existence. 
The idea is that each of us is creative, and each of us, having ended up in this video production game, has sought out that which feeds our soul to some degree. Whether we shoot video for a living or as a hobby on weekends, creating something has value to each of us. Some of us also paint, play drums, knit, sketch or write poetry, and all of these are the things we must do. We must allow our souls, minds and spirits to play in that space we love. The space that defines us. The space that is more who we are than any day job could ever be. 
Embracing that which brings us the greatest joy, no matter how deftly we must slot it into our lives, is the most powerful gift we can give ourselves. If we’re lucky enough, it might even turn into a career. 
Make art, no matter what anyone says. Ignore what’s “right” and what you “should” do, at least long enough to remember and enjoy what you “must” do. 
Embrace your musts, create your musts, and share your musts. I want to see what everyone comes up with.
Creativity Image courtesy ShutterStock
Nicole LaJeunesse
Nicole LaJeunesse
Nicole LaJeunesse is a professional writer and a curious person who loves to unpack stories on anything from music, to movies, to gaming and beyond.

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