We all know the classic Nietzsche quote: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger instead.”
But what does that mean? Does it mean things scab over? Does it mean we become immune to pain?
In the past, that is what I believed. I saw the concept of “stronger” like the hardening of a shell, the thickening of the skin; I saw it like building a stronger, taller wall to protect oneself from the world. It’s no fucking news to anyone that life isn’t easy. The basics aren’t easy. Being self-sufficient and self-reliant isn’t easy. And putting your heart on the line to chase your dreams also isn’t easy. But what I thought “toughening” meant was closing your heart up and refusing to feel. In my writing career, I have written a lot of things that are funny, but don’t mean that much to me. Why? It’s safe. It’s amusing. People like it. You know what people like even more? Realness.
I have been rejected as a writer about a billion times this year. And yes, you do become more immune to the feeling. You learn to continue pushing forward with your craft because it’s just what you do, not because the world tells you you should. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less. The pain is still there and you do become better at coping with it. You bounce back faster. But, most importantly, you push harder the next time which means reaching deeper within yourself for the best work you have to offer. Not because it isn’t painful anymore, but because you can be confident that you will handle the pain like a champ, shake if off, and keep on typing.
Yes, all of the rejection and sad and bad experiences in my life have made me better. They have made me a better human and a better writer and artist. Not because they taught me how not to feel, but because they taught me to feel even more. Life has no more joy in it if you avoid risks, both professional and emotional. The pain you risk is not all bad. Pain itself comes with so many gifts, such as empathy, lessons learned, coping mechanisms, stories and truth. The result is becoming a more sensitive person and a more intuitive writer.
My next project will be as true to life as possible. Stay posted for updates on the process of digging up old emotions to bring truth to a screenplay.