Below we have another guest blog. This one comes from our friend Mikey Crichton from Creative Isolation Lofts and was originally posted in a mutual Facebook group. It was written around New Year’s 2020 and he reflects on 10 important concepts he learned in the past decade. Though a year old now the information is still highly reflective and relevant.
10 Important Concepts
Instead of attempting to summarize an entire decade, I figured I’d pass along ten important concepts that I’ve gathered in my adventures over the past ten years.
These are things that have helped me to thrive in the best of times, and survive during the worst.
WARNING: This will definitely come off self-aggrandizing to many of you, but them’s the breaks. My hope is that for those of you who need a shot in the arm at the end of a very intense ten years, this might land exactly as it’s intended to.
1. Vulnerability is Awesome
Everything that is truly beautiful in my life has come from allowing myself to be fearless in sharing what I think is inherently good about who I am.
Not everything has landed as I’ve intended, and my heart has definitely been hurt as I’ve worn it on my sleeve and passed it around for others to fondle.
Thing is, I’ve experienced more laughter and love, passion and positivit, than I ever expected one lifetime could handle because of the leaps that I’ve taken.
I bet very few of you can think of a single amazing circumstance in your life that’s come from allowing your heart to harden, or from keeping it away from others.
Vulnerability is awesome, and I believe that it is one of the keys to our positive growth as people.
2. Relationships Change, and It’s Totally Fine
It’s often hard to accept it when friendships grow apart, or when love doesn’t end up lasting forever.
I’ve often carried a heavy burden when it comes to the nature of my relationships shifting. Am I an asshole? A bad friend? Unloveable? Inherently flawed in some terrible way?
The truth is it happens to the best of us. We grow apart because we’re always changing, and it’s natural for our relationships to ebb and flow as we evolve as people.
Often these changes are not a reflection of what a shitty person we are, though sometimes they are clear markers of our blind spots and areas for improvement.
I’ve learned that changes in relationships are a confirmation that we’re growing. A lot of the time the most important growth happens when we’re left on our own to figure shit out.
One thing to remember is it’s never too late to rebuild a bridge. If the other person meets you where you’re at, you have an ever stronger friendship. If they aren’t ready for that bridge to be rebuilt, it’s important to give yourself love for keeping your heart open and trying in spite of your ego.
Very few relationships are meant to last forever, but the best ones often do.
3. You Will Fuck Up… Lots!
You aren’t perfect. As a matter of fact you’re inherently flawed; You can be selfish, egotistical, inconsiderate and hurtful to others, often without even realizing it.
If you’re lucky you’ve been built with the presence of mind to recognize it when you fuck up and course correct. Sometimes it takes an ongoing series of fuck ups to trigger a wake up call. Often it takes hitting rock bottom to make the changes necessary to get back on track.
You will fuck up. There’s no avoiding it. All you can do is attempt to be as self reflective as possible in hopes of minimizing the damages and maximizing the growth.
It’s so important to have some compassion for yourself and understand that you’ll never be perfect. The moment that this settles itself into your brain is the exact moment that you start to accept yourself fully as a human being.
4. Forgive Yourself… and Others
One of the most destructive forces on this earth is hatred. It has the power to strip us of our virtue, blind us from our truth, and rob us of our essential goodness. Self-inflicted or projected onto others, it’s never a good scene.
Most of the terrible things that happen in the world come from our inability to see ourselves for who and what we really are.
No matter how we slice it we’re essentially all the same; We all seek comfort, community, affirmation and love.
If you can’t forgive yourself, you can’t love yourself. If you can’t forgive others, you are volunteering to ride the wheel of suffering, all the while justifying your contribution to the suffering of others.
Have you ever truly forgiven someone who you feel has wronged you? If you have, I bet the sense of healing that came from that experience was one of the most powerful sensations that you’ve ever had.
Forgiveness is fucking hard, but it’s one of the keys to the handcuffs that you’ve shackled yourself with.
If you’ve never used forgiveness as a force for positivity in your life, you should give it a try. Your life will most certainly be lighter, your heart will definitely be fuller, and your world will be brighter by simple virtue of clearing away some of the darkness that you’ve allowed yourself to cloud your heart with.
5. There Are People Who Don’t Like You, and It’s Totally Fine
This is a tough one.
Have you noticed how much time in the past decade you’ve spent seeking praise from others, both digitally and in real life? Have you noticed how little it makes a difference to your sense of self worth in the end?
Have you noticed that collectively our skins are getting thinner, and our reactivity to criticism is amplifying at an alarming rate? Have you observed that the divide between folks with differing points of view seems to be expanding exponentially, with very little room for middle ground?
People aren’t always going to like you. Some won’t like you for stupid reasons, and some won’t like you for totally valid reasons.
I can be selfish. I talk too much. I have too many extreme opinions. I feel the need to be the center of attention all of the time. I’m too loud. My jokes are confrontational and politically incorrect. I’m too intense. I’m a hypocrite. I’m 37 years old and I refuse to grow up. I could go on…
All of these things are true. If it were you, could you accept them about yourself? Can you recognize the things that you want to change? Can you put in the effort to change them? Are you tuned into the things that you DO like about yourself? Do you see your own beauty and strength in spite of your imperfections?
I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up because people don’t like me. In the past few years I’ve learned to place less focus on the opinions of others, and continue to build on what I think is positive within my own self, and it’s helped a lot.
6. There Are People Who Love You Everywhere
I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and crippling self-doubt. I have lost a job, my partner, some friendships, my home, my family, and half of my life with my child, all within a very short period of time. I was definitely considering doing something fucked up because I felt so alone and terrible about myself.
Often there is so much noise in our day to day lives that we have a hard time getting our signals dialed into the right stations. Often the stations that we are tuning into aren’t the ones that are playing the songs that we need to hear the most. Often when we’re suffering we have a hard time recognizing our worth, and often this makes it nearly impossible to understand how important we are to ourselves and to others.
Self-Love is incredibly important, but community and family is the foundation for most of our positive development as people.
Very few of us have the ability to do the hard work alone. Reaching out to the people who love you can often make all the difference between complete personal obliteration and the first steps toward a healing path.
You might not know it, but you are completely surrounded by people who see you for who you are; Your family and friends, the nice lady at the grocery store, the guy are the record shop, the barista that you share a smile with each morning, the kids in the playground, etc.
They are the ones who accept you in all of your flaws, and who will champion you for all of your beauty because you bring simple joys into their lives each day.
Keep the people who love you as close as you can. Do your best to try and dig yourself out in times of personal crisis by allowing others to grab their shovels and get in there too.
Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and these are the folks who are tending to our gardens when we aren’t able to do it ourselves.
7. You Are More Powerful Than You Realize
Many of us have no idea how much power we possess within ourselves.
So many people sit on the sidelines believing that they aren’t meant to make an impact, or that their gifts aren’t worthy of conception.
I have suffered from this for my entire life, all the while simultaneously projecting an otherworldly level of social confidence in the face of crippling self doubt.
The greatest people on this earth are the ones who put that critical voice to the side and endeavour to fully realize their power in spite of their doubts. Literally every person who you admire has told themselves at some point or another that they don’t have what it takes to achieve their goals.
The only thing that sets them apart from you is that they didn’t listen to that shitty voice when it tried to make them stop doing what they loved to do.
Each of us has the ability to dream up a beautiful life for ourselves. If our dreams are grounded within the realm of our reality, then we have the potential to realize them.
You want to make a record? All the tools and knowledge are at your disposal. You want to be the best single parent of all time? All you need is the heart and some resources to find your footing. Want to finally write that novel everyone says that you’ve got inside your head? Sit the fuck down and DO IT.
Negative self-talk enables inaction and mediocrity. Positive visioning, summoning the courage to try and fail, learning from mistakes, seeking guidance, and believing in your own power are the only ways to make our dreams into our reality.
“You can do anything that you set your mind to man”.
8. The Love You Seek Is Out There
Losing love is one of the hardest things that we can experience. It is often life shattering to devote so much time, love and emotional investment into another person, only to have it fall apart.
In my experience, the whole “You can’t love someone else until you fully love yourself” thing is true, but it doesn’t guarantee that love will last. All it does is ensure that you have enough gas in your tank to get you where you need to go if/when the course changes and you need to find a safe spot to regroup.
A lot of the isolation that people are currently experiencing is a direct result of overexposure to ineffective methods of connectivity. We’re somehow surrounded at all times by others, but rarely feeling truly connected. This is a sign of the times, and an epidemic of psychic and emotional health.
The most important thing to know is that despite all of the trappings of modern connectivity, there is an incredible amount of resources out there for us. Whether we suffer from addiction, mental illness, or the epidemic of loneliness, there is most certainly a plethora of communities out there who are looking to embrace us.
Online dating happens to be one of the most unlikely places to experience this new social isolation. I found so many people out there who were hoping to connect, but it seems there were so little genuine connections happening.
The truth is it’s just the numbers fooling you. There are more people out there now who are finding love online than those who are finding it in person. Again, it’s a sign of the times. If you’re a seeker, you can get burnt out by the sheer number of people out there, not to mention the ineffective methods of communicating with one another.
After my last relationship ended, I was convinced that I would be alone for a very long time. To my surprise, I met a lot of really incredible folks who were in the same boat that I was, and it made me feel like there was hope.
We definitely do need to cultivate self love before we attempt to love another person. It also helps to put ourselves out there to see what’s up in the world outside our gates.
I have been so blessed to have found genuine love a few times in my life, mostly because I was curious enough to put myself out there. So, I’ve kept learning and trying, and know that the future is very bright.
I know there is an amazing love out there for me, and I’m going to cultivate as much care as I can for myself so that I’m good and ready for her as we coalesce into one another’s galaxies.
9. Cultivate a Positive Voice Inside Who You Trust
The best thing I did in recent times was dig deeper into myself to find my inner voice.
I think I have two main voices in my head, like the cartoon angel and devil on the shoulders thing: One is a shithead who wants me to do self-destructive, selfish, egotistical things, who lashes out, and who doesn’t take time to think things through very often.
The other one is mostly kind and gentle, who reinforces my strengths, encourages my dreams, provides perspective and forgiveness for my lesser qualities, who reminds me of the promises that I’ve made to myself, and who gives others the benefit of the doubt more often than not.
Sometimes these voices sound like one-another. Sometimes the shithead is gently trying to get me to go to the bar when I’m feeling weak, justifying that I’ve had a hard time and deserve to kick it up a bit. Sometimes the kind one is stern and harsh, telling me that I’m stronger than that, and I should stick to my guns and stay home and go to bed.
Getting to know which is which has been really important to my mental health, and has provided a much clearer path for the kinds of decisions that I make. This has allowed me to trust myself more, to build a better relationship with myself, to feel comfortable being alone for the first time in my entire life, to feel confident in the things that I create, and to accept the things that don’t go my way with peacefulness and grace.
10. Don’t Give Up
I can’t stress this one enough; No matter what you’re going through, no matter how hard things have gotten, how much you’ve lost, or what you might have done to find yourself in the predicament that you might be in, DON’T GIVE UP.
You have no idea what’s waiting for you around the corner. For some that might be a terrifying prospect that induces the worst kind of anxiety and existential dread. To others it can be exciting and a source of great wonder.
I’ve had a hell of a few years, and there were points where I definitely didn’t see myself making it out alive. I didn’t think I had anywhere to go, and I couldn’t see the worth that I was bringing to the world. That’s a pretty fucked up feeling to have when you wake up to a tiny little angel who thinks you’re a super hero every other day.
I thought I was fucked for good, but didn’t give up and I did all of the stuff that I’ve written about above, and more…
I took time away from having a “real” job to focus on myself and my son, I experimented with sobriety for extended periods of time, I went to the gym five days a week, I went to therapy, I read lots of self help books, I started taking meds for my depression, I set creative goals, I engaged in art therapy, I reached out to my friends for support, I volunteered in my community, I joined and cultivated community around my new neighbourhood, I spent lots of time in nature, I went out when I felt myself feeling isolated, I stayed in when I felt myself slipping back into old patterns, I learned to cook really dope meals, and more than anything else kept on trying to cultivate a stronger sense of self awareness.
The point is that it’s better to keep going than to give up on yourself. Our most profound experiences are often derived from our greatest adversity, and we are often better people who live richer lives when we suffer and overcome.
Here’s hoping the next ten years are as rich and full of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, adversity and resilience as the last ten.
Thanks for your time.
Mikey Crichton is a single Dad, DJ, Multi-Instrumentalist, Music Producer, Writer and Apprentice Builder from Toronto, ON.
Over the past 15 years Mikey has worked in the Non-Profit sector in Canada, The United States and Australia as a Fundraiser, Public Speaker and Management Coach. Most recently he was the Director of Programs for Unity Charity, an organization that teaches positive growth and resilience through Hip-Hop art forms.
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Mikey used his newfound free time to design and build a creative / mental health sanctuary in Northern Ontario.
After the success of this project, Mikey founded Creative Isolation Lofts; An organization that aims to train creative artists “essential skills” in the skilled trades. It is the goal of CIL to provide custom made, affordable, and environmentally friendly spaces for anyone and everyone to cultivate positive mental health routines through the creative arts and skilled trades.
To learn more visit Creative Isolation Lofts or Mikey’s pages on IG: