Millennials, Digital Natives, & The Unstoppable Human Spirit: Part II

Last post, I talked about what the “entrepreneurial spirit” means to me, and how it’s not just about owning a business. It’s so much more than that, and honestly, it’s so much cooler than just that.

See, I love entrepreneurs. I love the mindset, and the outlook. I think it’s a fantastic way to be, and I think the increase in entrepreneurial individuals in our world is the sign of a global shift, a change in awareness and a change in our direction as a species. A good one!

If you’ve resonated at all with what I’ve written here, it’s very possible you have an entrepreneurial spirit, even if yours is, as of yet, underdeveloped.

Here are some characteristics of entrepreneurs:

  • Easily bored by routine
  • Rebellious
  • Eager to learn (but completely unwilling to do tasks that don’t light them up)
  • Stubborn
  • Curious
  • Prone to depression, frustration, and emotional distress when feeling trapped and powerless
  • Wants to do things their own way (even if sometimes it’s harder)
  • Has a strong desire to contribute something meaningful to the world
  • Possesses a great sense of purpose (even if that purpose is completely unclear to them)
  • Incredibly creative in areas where they have interest
  • Often diagnosed with things like ADD or ADHD

(This is not to say that just because you’re moody and rebellious that you’re an entrepreneur. I dislike when people use high intellect or unique personalities to excuse rudeness or actual laziness—there are some genuinely lazy people who don’t contribute to the world, and that’s not where you want to be.)

Though I might or might not be guilty of this…

Though I might or might not be guilty of this…

It took me until I was in my twenties to realize that I was an entrepreneur, even though, when I looked back, it was painfully obvious that I’d always done things my own way.

Entrepreneurs want different things from life than most others. “Freedom” has a different definition for them, and they’ll brave all manner of unusual and uncomfortable circumstances to get what they want.

They’ll work incredibly hard on what they believe in.

They’ll go without things others wouldn’t dream of going without if it’s in service of their dreams.

They’ll make sacrifices that seem impossible to others, because they know what they want.

An entrepreneur who isn’t in touch with their passions and desires suffers. They can be morose, lost, and unfocused. This often looks like flakiness, lack of motivation, lack of goals, and general patheticness.

This was me for a few years. After college, I just kind of hung around for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard. I just felt like I was stuck in the mud, spinning my tires at full throttle, but going nowhere. I was working non-stop, but I found I had nothing to show for it, and I was quickly sinking into depression and a general disdain toward life.

I felt like this dog.

I felt like this dog.

 

I knew who and what I wanted to be, but getting there felt impossible. Even starting felt impossible. I’m a big picture person, so while I can see things from a detached perspective and keep my goal in sight, I also have a bad habit of becoming overwhelmed by everything I need to do. This can be paralyzing, and for a few years, I was. I let fear and doubt keep me frozen in place, not knowing how to even begin.

The good thing about that time was that, while I didn’t feel like I was moving forward, I was still trying things. I wrote books, I freelanced, I read and read and read, devouring everything I could about making money, or publishing, or spirituality and finding inner peace, or even things like inventing and law. I read and watched and learned everything I could find that struck a chord with that hollow place inside of me that was eating me alive.

And I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t have one of those stories where I had a big “AHA!” moment that fixed my whole life in one fell swoop. I certainly did have a lot of “aha!” and “Oooh, I GET IT!” moments over the years, and I continue to have them now, but those kinds of things don’t change your life alone. It’s everything together that alters the trajectory of your future.

I used to seek out those defining moments, those singular days that would stand as a turning point for my entire existence.

But the truth, for me, at least, is that life is just a collection of ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, spiced up by a few Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

We have to take out the trash and clean the kitchen. We have to do laundry and finish assignments. We have to run errands and write emails, and it’s all awfully boring.

And we have to work really, really hard. A lot. Sometimes for a very, very long time with virtually no return on our overwhelming investment whatsoever.

We have to do all this, all this Normal Life and Dream Life stuff, all mixed together, while being told over and over by people on all sides, whether they live in our house or in our screens, that we can’t ever do it.

They tell us we can’t have what we want. We can’t be that person. We can’t do those things. We can’t change this life. We’re stuck. They’re stuck. Everyone’s stuck. They tell us to give up and live a Normal Life full time, and let the Dream Life be just that—a dream. They tell us that’s normal and healthy and right.

And the only real difference between the entrepreneurial spirit and the ordinary soul is this: The little voice, sometimes so quiet we can barely hear it, that whispers, “But I want this.”

It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. And for people with a dream, with a purpose, there’s really no other option.

There will be big moments, but they’re rarely game changers all on their own. Much more powerful and important are the millions upon millions of little moments. Little, ordinary moments, where you choose to be big and extraordinary. Start adding those up, and you’ll start to see some remarkable results.

Everyone has this potential in them, but not everyone listens to the little voice. Not everyone holds fast to those dreams. Most people let life steer them, rather than steering their lives.

And the truth is that it’s not actually harder or easier to do it one way or another. Life is hard, period. It’s just a matter of what kind of “difficult” you’re willing to put up with: Working hard to get what you want, or regretting your decisions and wishing you had more.

So if you know what you want, don’t ever let it go. I’m going to talk a lot more about this in the future, so stick around. There’s a lot to cover on this topic.

If you don’t know what you want, still stick around. One of the purposes of my life is to ensure that others find their passion, so I’m going to be talking a lot about that, too.

But more than anything, keep being you. You can improve you, and be the best you, but make sure that no matter what, you’re always you. As they say: Everyone else is taken.

 

So, would you classify yourself as an entrepreneurial spirit? You can be broke, businessless, and completely at a loss for what you want to do in life—that doesn’t mean you aren’t an entrepreneur!

Free Creative Resources: Tools, Programs, & Other Cool Stuff

Let’s hear it for free stuff!

Behold the majestic Cyberbird.

Behold the majestic Cyberbird.

Whatever you’re doing, you probably need some resources and tools to help you get it done. I know I use a ton of stuff for podcasting, making videos, blogging, and writing books.

The problem with all of this stuff is that it can be pretty expensive. And for most of us, at least when we’re starting out, there’s not a ton of disposable income lying around for buying fancy equipment and cool programs.

So here are a few of the resources I utilize (or have utilized in the past until I could afford the paid versions) to do my work. Keep in mind that, while there are always programs you can buy, some of these free options are so good that I’ve never felt the need to upgrade—maybe someday my needs will be great enough, but for now, I’m really happy with all of these free (or really reasonable) programs that I use.

Almost all of them are free, but the ones that you have to pay for will be marked with a * so you can quickly identify them. They’re not expensive, and I’m not getting anything for recommending them to you—I only make recommendations based on things I use, know, and love!

Blog Stuff

WordPress

If you look up at the URL, you’ll see that this site is simply “hijackhighschool.com”. This is a paid domain. However, I know a lot of people who’ve had great success using the free version of WordPress. The only real difference is some minute limitations in what you can do (nothing at all that will stop you from doing great work and having an awesome blog!), and the only noticeable difference is the URL—if mine were free, for instance, it would just be “hijackhighschool.wordpress.com”. It’s not a big deal and it won’t hinder your credibility for having that there. Allie of Hyperbole and a Half still uses here hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com URL, and that sure hasn’t stopped her from being awesome.

There are plenty of free, and stunning, WordPress themes to choose from, and many are highly customizable. You can have a pretty amazing site or blog just by using the free tools available.

Writing Stuff

Google Drive

You can also use Microsoft’s One Drive, it’s much the same as Google Drive. The point is, these will give you a good word processor, as well as a safe place to house all your documents. I swear by this, because I have had computers crash. Heck, Scarlett’s (my beloved Alienware) hard drive crashed on me last year, and I had to install a completely new one. Thank GOD all of my books, notes, and business files were in the cloud. I’d probably have had a nervous breakdown if I hadn’t had everything backed up to infinity and accessible online.

Evernote

A quick way to keep track of bookmarks, interesting sites, and your own personal notes is Evernote. Half of my blogs for this site are written on my phone at 2am on my Evernote app. I use it to save pages that intrigue me, make notes, write lists about what I need to remember, and jot down quick story or business note when I’m on the go. It’s free (there’s a paid version, but I have yet to try it and find the free version more than enough for me) and you can install and sync it across all your devices, so your information goes wherever you do.

*Scrivener

Not a free program, but Scrivener only sells for about $40 (and there are always sales—I got mine half-off simply for completing NaNoWriMo one year). If you’re working on big writing projects, like books, huge reports, a thesis for school, screenplays, or any kind of lengthy research project, Scrivener is where it’s at.

Graphic Design Stuff

Adobe Photoshop

No, I’m not kidding. There is a way you can legally have Photoshop completely free. Sure, it’s a seven-year-old version of the program, but that’s what I use to do all my graphic design, and it works great. The best part is that Adobe has released it themselves, so this isn’t some sketchy site dominated by ads in languages you can’t read—it’s totally legitimate and very easy. You can get it here, toward the bottom.

This version of Photoshop works great. I remember wanting it so badly when I was a teenager, and hating the $500 price tag. I know the art I saw others creating with it blew me away, and so I’m perfectly happy to keep working with that version, even now.

GIMP

Another great, free program is GIMP. I actually have both GIMP and Photoshop—sometimes I feel like using one platform over another (and also, half my graphics were already made in GIMP, so all my files were there already before, and it’s just easier to keep working on those same files.

In fact, I only really got Photoshop because I had some old files in that format, too. It’s really just a matter of what file types I had and what made it easiest to work on each of them—all in all, GIMP is a great program and can easily be your one-stop spot for photo editing.

Audio Editing Stuff

If you’re using a Mac, you might already have a program that’s great and easy to use. If not, or if you want something different, check out my recommendation.

Audacity

Making music, or just recording audio tracks? Audacity has you covered. Free, powerful, and full of features, Audacity can do what most paid audio editors could do (I know, I had a few professional ones before finding Audacity).

Video Editing Stuff

Like the audio editing programs, most computers (especially Macs) come with some sort of basic “movie making” software, so if that’s enough for you and you’re comfortable with it, keep using it.

Adobe Premiere Pro

You can get this from the same spot you got Adobe Photoshop (here, in case you don’t feel like scrolling)—it’s the last program on the list. This is the whole package—tons of features, very powerful, and all-around awesome. There are tons of free tutorials online, and you can do just about anything using this program.

VideoPad Video Editor

Another, simpler program is VideoPad. It’s free as long as you aren’t using it for commercial business, but you can do some great free and promotional content, as well as fun, just-for-you stuff. It’s a great starter program, but it’s plenty powerful enough for you to use all through your video-making days.

Stock Photography

FreeImages

Check out FreeImages, which provides you with a ton of free photography you can use in blog posts, videos, presentations, or whatever else. Some can be used freely, others request notification and an attribution (this is as simple as putting the link to the uploader’s profile as a little watermark on the bottom of the picture and leaving a comment on the picture’s page telling the uploader that you’re using it).

 

I’ll update this list as I go, and if you have any suggestions, please do share in the comments! You’ll get credit, and if you’d like to share your experiences with the program, I’ll add those to the post as well.

Art & Depression – Is Being Sad the Only Way to Create?

NOTE: I am not talking about clinical depression here, I’m talking about regular, run-of-the-mill bummed-outness. Clinical depression is a whole ‘nother ball game, and I recognize that.

 

There’s a question—a fear—I hear a lot about when it comes to creating art. I’ve even felt it myself; it’s the very worrying question: “Do I have to be depressed to make great art?”

Anyone doing creative work has noticed that they seem to come up with some really amazing stuff when we’re sad. It’s when we’re down that the amazing work seems to flow. We’ve also noticed that there’s something about success that sometimes seems to suck the soul out of our favorite artists’ work.

And for anyone who wants to make creative pursuits a big part of their life…that’s a pretty depressing idea, isn’t it? It basically says, “To make worthwhile contributions to the world, you’re going to have to be discontented and mopey for the rest of your life.”

It’s a pretty widespread idea in our culture, and you’ll hear it from creators of all sorts.

So…is it true?

No. And here’s my theory:

Positive emotions are socially acceptable. It’s comfortable to express those emotions in public—it’s encouraged, even. So we do! Openly! It’s easy to smile, to laugh, to celebrate and have fun and spend time with the people you love.

Yaaaaaaaay~

:D

On the other hand, negative emotions aren’t met so warmly. But we feel them, just the same as we feel positive emotions, so what are we supposed to do with them? We can’t just let them fester. That’ll kill you. So it seeps out. It finds an outlet. Art becomes the pressure valve, without which we’ll explode.

So we write, or draw, or paint, or sing. We make music, we play sports, we dance…because if we don’t do something like that, we’ll end up fighting, or drinking, or just keeling over, one day, worn out by trying to contain it all.

D: D: D: D: D:

Or crying all alone, which in all fairness can be kind of cathartic.

Circling back to the original point, though, does this really mean that the only way to be creative is to channel negative emotions into creativity?

No. Let’s break it down like this:

All emotions generate the energy necessary to be creative. In terms of energy, positive emotions actually make more energy than negative ones.

The reason that it doesn’t seem like “creativity fuel” is because, as I said before, positive emotions tend to get filtered into other things. They get used up, like gasoline in a NASCAR race. It doesn’t need to find and outlet because it has an automatic, natural one in joy responses.

Don’t get me wrong—this definitely doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating and expressing happiness in order to channel that energy into creativity. You just have to become more conscious and intentional about where your energy goes and how.

And remember, positive energy generates more power than negative energy, so you’ll have enough to celebrate and create.

What happens to people who experience success and seem to lose that spark is simply that a different kind of pain takes over—the fear of failure, and the fear of failing their fans, the fear of not being able to keep to producing a product people like. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: They’re scared they can’t create great art anymore, and that fear becomes so intense, they end up paralyzed by their terror and unable to create the kind of art used to.

It’s not about success blocking them, it’s about fear of failure blocking them. Before they were famous, there were no real expectations of their art—they were free to create whatever spoke to them. Once they gained notoriety, though, they felt expectations placed on them, by their managers and producers, by agents and investors, and of course, by fans (even though fans usually don’t mean to create this kind of stress).

It’s natural, and once you know what it is, it’s completely avoidable.

The point is, a person can create just as easily from joy as they can from sorrow, it’s just a matter of knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, and figuring out how to direct that energy into something of your choosing.

Someone who creates something beautiful from their pain isn’t fueled by the pain–they are a creative person who chose to do something great instead of wallow.

And even if you’re a happy person in a great mood, you can also choose to do something great.

As with most things in life, the power is in your hands. You just have to recognize it.

The question, of course, is how do I channel energy? I have another post about that (because this post is long enough as-is, and that’s a topic all its own), and you can find it right over here! 😀