Is It Worth It?

Yesterday my brother called me. Apart from being happy to hear from him, I wondered what he was up to these days. He told me that he needed to write a short speech ending with a strong call for action for his university. Doing the same thing as I would have done, he did not want to go with the standard talks about sustainability and tree-hugging. Instead, he wanted to do something much more difficult. He wanted to talk about priorities. But to fully understand what he meant by that, let me briefly explain what happened to him some time ago.

In mid-April, my brother had a motorcycle crash while driving 80 km/h. His back tire slipped out and he hit the road at full speed. If there would have been any traffic at the other side of the road or if he would have fallen differently, I might not have a brother to call anymore today. But luckily, he got away with just a few scratches (both on him and on his bike). When he got up and still felt alive, he bursted out into laughing.

So what does that have to do with priorities? When I talked to him yesterday, he told me that he wanted to use this – quite traumatising – experience as an opener for his speech. In the same instant, he explained why he laughed after getting back on his feet. It seems strange, right? You should be in shock, not able to get up, shaking with your entire body and incapable of making up a clear mind. But instead, he simply shouted out his joy. His joy to be alive. And  then he started thinking about priorities. How little did the stress for the next exam appear suddenly when compared to being alive and healthy. How small are the worries of finding a new apartment when you get the chance to see your friends, family and loved ones again? And he started asking himself and his audience: “Is it worth it?”

I try not to be too philosophical at this point (there are greater masters of this profession), but I think that my brother’s message is a very important one, both for your own personal happiness and for your success as a creative individual. Because aside from my brother’s call for action that everyone should ask themselves if the actions that they are doing are worth being done, there was another meaning  hidden in speech. Talking about all these minor areas that cause worries, it made me think about if worrying is actually worth it.

Let us be honest, we are worrying all the time. Will I make it to the next semester? Do I have enough money to pay next month’s rent? Did I offend that guy with something that I did or said? Examples are countless. But they all have in common, that inside our head, we are going crazy about what might have gone or potentially will go wrong without knowing what would actually happen. And all these minor worries have a quite saddening side-effect: They prevent us from trying new things, because we might possibly fail. Or because we could get rejected. Or because we are simply afraid of the unknown.

When I started writing as a teenager, I first was too afraid to show my work to anyone. One day – while writing on my father’s computer in the afternoon – I forgot to close the document when I finished my work. So the inevitable happened. In the evening, my father returned from work, opened his computer and the beginning of an oriental medival love-making scene popped up on the display. I was sitting next to him when it happened, and he asked me: “What is that?” Back then, he did not know about my secret passion. But my mom had always taught me to stick to the truth, so I answered honestly, (although embarrassed because of the love-making): “It’s something that I wrote this afternoon.” Doubtfully my father turned his head in my direction. I could see that back then, he did not believe me and I felt sad and disappointed. I doubted my skills for some time after that and stopped writing stories because – let’s be honest – who will believe you if your own parents question your abilities. I worried that no-one would ever recognise my potential.

Back then I was a teenager and I can still understand why I doubted my abilities for some time. But speaking from my today’s point of view, all the worries were useless. Just because someone does not love your creation at the first instant, it does not mean that it is useless crap. Perhaps you know the story of J.K. Rowling and how often she was rejected handing in her Harry Potter manuscripts to publishers. She never gave up – and today she is one of the most famous authors of all times. I am pretty sure that she might have doubted herself at some point in time as well. That she might have worried along her way. But she always kept going. Gave it a new try. And she ultimately succeeded.

“Pursue it, fight for it and finish it.”

Coming back to my brother’s motorcycle crash and the lessons that he learned, we should ask ourselves: Is what I did worth putting effort into? Is my creation worth fighting for? And is worrying about it doing any good?

I cannot make that decision for you. But I know that somehow, deep inside yourself, you once had a desire to create something. And even if you are worrying right now, back at the beginning you were pretty certain that you wanted to go the full distance. So if your project is something that you believe in, don’t abandon it. Pursue it, fight for it and finish it. Stop worrying and creating useless what if scenarios of doubt in your mind. If you stick to your creation, you will succeed because you ultimately overcame your doubts.

In the end, it all comes back to my brother’s simple question: Is it worth it? If you started creating your project, if your project is your passion and if your project has a place in your heart, there is a simple answer: Yes, it is worth it!