We'll Never Be Good Enough
Finding inspiration in the face of cynicism
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Last week, a viewer expressed his concerns over the cost of the gear used for my documentary work overseas as well as the threat of theft in the places I practice my photography. Pushing back on these thoughts, the situation evolved into me being criticized on the morality of my work, the integrity of my process, and challenging my merits to document South Asian communities as a South Asian living in Canada. Yea…
Look, it's easy to get riled up when criticism—especially those that may be thinly laced with prejudicial ignorance—comes your way. Especially if you're trying to carve a living as a creative. Words have weight to them and depending on your state of mind, it can change the trajectory of your day. And it’s exactly in these moments that we need to remember one key thing: we'll never be good enough.
Yea, I know I how that sounds but let me explain.
Find the Inspiration
No matter how great your work becomes, no matter how authentic your intentions are, no matter how much transparency you invite into your process, you will never do enough to convince everyone that you deserve to be where you are. As you continue to put out more work, you’ll inevitably draw more attention and with it, an inflection of cynics that question your motives and process.
This is part of the journey.
It is our duty as creatives to move outside of our comfort zone often, seek growth, and pursue our visions with authenticity. But no matter how much work you put behind this, there will always be someone there—be it silently or in your face—to knock your hustle. There will always be someone that feels like you’re not doing it the right way. There will always be someone that believes you ain’t sh*t.
And this is where we draw our inspiration from.
If there’s always gonna be someone out there that we’ll never convince, then why spend any meaningful time trying to convince anyone? We might feel this urge to get distracted and defend our practices because we see it as a threat to our self. But this threat is an illusion; a defensive mechanism from the ancient parts of our brain. It’s important to identify these moments and recognize they don't mean anything.
Besides, what are we gonna gain from confronting the most critical cynics? You know, the type of person that’ll try to poke holes in what you do and when you answer them, they’ll move to straw man arguments that push you into illogical hypotheticals? What a waste of time.
Instead, find inspiration from this position.
You can’t convince everyone, so you may as well go back and focus on what you love. If it’s a no-win situation to begin with, play a different game. Play your game.
You are human. You will make mistakes. But you are not the sum of your mistakes. You are how you respond to them. Focus on your duty as a creative and invest in your journey each and every day.
Cynicism Masquerades as Wisdom
So, what ever happened to that viewer that shared his thoughts on my work? Well, I offered a chance to speak with him directly; mentioning that we may agree on more things than not. But I was met with paragraphs of how I’m wrong, not answering his questions, yadda-yadda-yadda.
I’ll try to break bread with a cynic at least once. An opportunity for growth. But again, I’ll never be good enough for everyone. Some people don’t give a sh*t and that’s perfectly fine. It’s times like these I’m reminded by a quote from Stephen Colbert:
Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the furthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness: a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say 'no.' But saying 'yes' begins things. Saying 'yes' is how things grow.
We’ll never be good enough for everyone. Let’s just be the best for ourselves.
The Big December Contest
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate. To celebrate our first 1,000 readers, we’re doing our biggest giveaway to date!
For December, we’re giving away $21,500 worth of credit on the Moment store.
$500 shop credit for 3 lucky winners
$20 shop credit for the first 1,000 to enter
All you have to do is be a member of this community and create an account for the Moment Store (so you can receive the credit).
If you already have a Moment account with the same email as the one you have here, you’re already entered. For the rest of you, make sure your subscribed to Church & Street and sign up to the Moment Store here. At the end of the month, I’ll be selecting 3 winners that will receive an additional $500 each to the Moment Store.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
My thanks to the team at Moment! Not only for this contest but for being the longest supporter of my work online. They’re a lean team of passionate creators that truly believe in supporting other creators on their journey. Whether it’s a new camera, lens, workshop, or just some great articles, visit ShopMoment.com today.
Reader Question: Which movie have you watched way too many times to count?
Chef. I’ll watch this a few times a year, especially when I’m in a funk. It’s a feel-good film that touches on a few things close to home: fatherhood, identity, and loving something that may not always love you back. Is it a perfect movie? No. It plays out predictably in a fairytale kinda way. But damn do I love this movie.
There’s a moment where the lead, played by Jon Favreau, pulls his son aside and tells him how much he loves his craft and f*ck, it gets me every time! So yea, if you haven’t seen this movie, cue it up, put your phone away, and enjoy.
January will mark the first anniversary of the Church & Street community and with it will come a bunch of new updates:
Church & Street paid tier with additional stories and bonuses
Surprise physical goods
Safe to say that I got my work cut out for me but I’m excited to tackle these projects and evolve this community with your help. Anyway, that’s enough for this week. See ya next time!
Thanks for reading Church & Street. Be sure to leave any thoughts or questions in the comments and if you really enjoyed this post, share it with your circle ✊🏾