I was deeply moved and inspired by this quote from artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones, about giving up goals, losing your passion, creating art to gain approval, and finding that joy is more important than approval.
As Jones noted many years after giving up commercial art:
Years ago I had goals (to get to this or that place), and when I did I found that all I wanted to do was art. So I have given up goals. When I was young, my passion was art, eventually comic book and fantasy art. I’ve seen a lot of people lose their childhood passions, not only for art but for life–just getting squeezed. My passion was and is my art. However, there was a time when I became aware that I might be losing it. Having used my ability to draw to buy approval from my childhood peers, I entered the real world with my “cash” in my pocket. I wanted to be published so badly that in the beginning I took on a lot of work that I hated. Ah, but maybe a million people would see it and love me. I lived in fear. What happened? I found that the more I went to the drawing board or the easel to do work I hated, the less I wanted to go there. I was losing my joy, and I found eventually that my joy was more important than approval. I began to get “difficult to deal with” and began to lose jobs. I became determined to, well, not so much “have it my way,” but to do work I loved. It’s not so easy to pursue, or even know what your heart’s desire may be.