Before 30. After 30. Part 8
People like to think that their opinions matter a great deal

People’s opinions don’t turn you into anything. It’s what you do that does it.

[ 4 min read ]

Whose opinion makes you what you are? The opinion of your parents or siblings? The opinion of your aunt, cousin, or your sister-, or mother-in-law? The opinion of your own child or his or her peers? Your husband’s or wife’s opinion?

If you consider yourself an artist (if you feel you are an artist), they, on the other hand, don’t see an artist in you, and mock you, and tell you things like “You? Artist? Don’t make me laugh.” then what?

Whose opinion should you trust? Whom should you listen to? Why would they, and not you, have the sole right to decide who you are and who you are not?

If you both have such rights, and you disagree, it’s pretty obvious that your opinions will cancel each other out. If one person believes something to be true, and the other person believes something not to be true, is it true or not? Whose opinion / belief should matter more and why? Why should your aunt be the one person whose opinion is final? Why should her word be conclusive? What is your aunt? Is she God? Or Kim Jong-un, and you’re a citizen of North Korea, where Kim is deity and his word are sacred?

If you had some kind of a “real career” / “real job” your aunt (child / spouse / father / mother / sister-in-law / your wife’s best friend / your husband’s colleague who sits across from him in another cubicle, etc.), wouldn’t even need to have an opinion. She would know that you are a lawyer for example. You finished law school, you work as a lawyer, then you must be a lawyer. It’d be super easy for her (or anybody else) to say who you are. You would wear a label.

Don’t all so called “normal” people (well educated, ambitious, smart, from so called “good families”) wear labels? Only misfits and losers don’t wear them. And, of course, artists who made their mark on the art scene and are recognized as, and called great artists by the general public also are allowed not to be “normal” (not have a traditional career, nor a business card which informs people what label that person wears, or not to vote in elections, etc.) — those whom a newspaper randomly picked, called artists at least several times (once might not be enough for the majority of people to believe), and who thus started to live in the collective awareness of the society as artists. Or, even better, some gallery agreed to display their works, or some museum decided to have their works in their collection or include their works in some exhibition.

At least this much should have happened for the world (and your aunt) to believe that you actually are an artist. And what were you 5 or 15 years ago when you were creating certain essential pieces of art and nobody knew you as an artist, and nobody saw any of your works yet, and no newspaper has ever called you an artist, and no museum had your works in their collection, and no art dealer was interested in any of your works, and no gallery displayed it? Did you create those works as not an artist? As an aspiring artist?

And what should have happened for the world (and your aunt) to believe that you actually are a lawyer, or a professional skier? You are a lawyer when you finished four or five years of law school (this will be enough for most people to call you a lawyer), and work as a lawyer. You are a professional skier when you took up this sport as child, you train each week, you go to tournaments, etc.

And when, on the other hand, you write each day, or take your camera and take photos each day, or take your chisel and sculpt each day, or your brush and paint, and you’ve been doing it consistently for a number of months or years, then it turns out it’s not enough to call you a writer or an artist. For the general public (and your aunt) to recognize you as a writer or an artist it’s by far not enough. It’s not that easy to acquire one of these (labels). ‘Writer’ and ‘artist’ are habitually considered by the general public (including your aunt) as too esteemed terms to be handed out to everybody who starts writing or making art.

Before any of the above things which mean you’ve been recognized by the society as an artist will have happened to you, you will be only this daydreaming lunatic, who, probably as the only person in the whole universe, believes that he or she is a writer or an artist. And if someone is the only person in the whole universe who believes that he or she is a writer or an artist, then it’s traditionally pretty obvious to everybody else that this person isn’t a writer or an artist.