When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to live in the big city. I grew up in a small town in rural Michigan, in a farmhouse, literally surrounded by cows and cornfields. So when I fantasized about the future I imagined bright lights and millions of people. New York City was my first choice, followed closely by somewhere awesome in California.
Well, I did end up moving away. First to Ann Arbor when I was 17, and then onto Seattle when I was 21. I ended up in San Francisco by the time I was 25. Each of these places was difficult to adapt to and navigate. Housing was expensive, parking was sometimes impossible, and I had to be aware and vigilant in a way I never had to in my small town amongst the cornfields.
Also, I have always been a Highly Sensitive Person, and an introvert. So the bustling crowds on the sidewalks were both stimulating, and extremely draining. The rush of a city going nonstop 24-7 was incredibly exciting, and also too much. I have now lived in cosmopolitan, eclectic, artsy cities since 1996 and the struggle has never gotten any easier. For over 20 years now I have been torn between loving my chosen city and wanting to run as far away from it as possible.
San Francisco has intensified this inner conflict like no other city, especially in recent years.
Why do I go through this turmoil? Why don’t I move somewhere with reasonable rents and spacious backyards? And maybe most importantly, why have I always, always been drawn to cities like this from the time I was very young?
Because that’s where the other creative people are.
It’s no coincidence that my journey happened to unfold along an Ann Arbor-Seattle-San Francisco line. If you look at these three cities, it’s obvious what they all have in common: A high proportion of weird and innovative people. A high number of artsy, funky little cafes, music venues, galleries, and a vibrant street scene. An openness to diversity of all stripes.
In my little town in Michigan I felt like I was the only weird person. And I was so bored on a daily basis I felt like I was slowly smothering to death.
But it wasn’t until many years later—over 20 years, in fact—that I realized this is because creative people NEED to be around other creative people. We need the random interactions, the constant exchange of ideas, and the exposure to the things other creative people are making with their hands, their voices, and their minds. That’s how we recharge our creative powers and it’s the surest way to tap into brilliant inspiration.
However, it’s also a sobering fact that not everyone can live in San Francisco. It’s expensive as hell here and even a lot of the creative folks have had to move elsewhere these days. So what do you do if you can’t move to a creative epicenter?
You turn to the internet.
Creative people are coming together online like never before. We are clustering around forums, blogs, social media conversations, and virtual movements. It is now possible to live in a town out in the middle of nowhere, population five or less, and still make a deep connection with a community of creative people who will listen to you, “get you,” and drive you to create more every day.
My friend and colleague, Katy Morgan, is holding a free online summit this August called Inspired Connections, and it’s all about how to use the power of story to build (or find) a community of creatives that will support and inspire your most creative work.
Katy interviewed me for the summit and we talked about:
How to find people who actually support you as a writer
How to start sharing your writing with others
How to use your personal story to jumpstart your own creative power
So, if you…
Feel all alone in your creative journey
Need more friends who are HSP, intuitive, introverted, or highly creative
Are ready to take the next step in your creative life
Then this summit is definitely for you. It’s starting August 2, it’s absolutely free, and you have nothing to lose. We’re lucky enough to live in a world where you DON’T have to move to San Francisco to find your people, you can just jump online.
You should take advantage of that.
I’ll see you there.