As I was walking home from shooting another concert around the backdrop of New York City skyscrapers who’s lights had been turned out for the night, I couldn’t help but feel how tired I was. Like physically feel the exhaustion overwhelm me to my toes. I had back-to-back days of shooting and not enough sleep, and I felt the weight in my feet with every step that I dragged myself toward the late night–or early morning, depending on your perspective–subway, massive camera bag in tow.
“Gaby, why do you do this to yourself?” my brain blurted out melodramatically amongst the few taxicabs rushing by to pick up any stray partiers trying to get home. I paused for a second to think about that while I waited for the walk sign at a stoplight on 9th Avenue and 57th Street. Why the heck do I do this? And that’s when the answer occurred to me, plain as day and more clearly than ever before.
It’s true, I’m tired and worn out constantly. My friends joke about how I never sleep, how I’m a workaholic and never learned the meaning of rest or a work-life balance. They’re right. I am working myself ragged. I’m so worn out at night that I collapse into bed because I’ve been giving my all every day, while simultaneously creating the most I ever have in my entire life. I’m using my creativity in ways a younger me would have only dreamed of. I’m freaking fatigued and kind of proud of it.
Here’s why: It’s because I love what I do more than I hate being tired. I love the act of creating, designing, constructing, discovering, imagining, actualizing, making art. I do it all day long and I never get bored of it. Being creative puts me in a total flow state, and when I’m in that zone, I don’t even feel worn down. Being locked in on my craft gives me an outpouring of energy unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It feels like an avalanche of excitement and energy flowing through my veins, a feeling that I cannot explain or replicate. This is the pursuit of a creator.
Which brings me to my second point: I’m trying to be the best the fastest. Leveling up requires sacrifice, and work, and heaps of hustle every day even when you’re running on four hours of sleep, your inbox is overflowing and everything is getting a little overwhelming. It requires persistence and dedication, and those are the deciding moments where you either give in and give up, or buckle down and get back to work. There’s a level of mental fortitude you have to possess to keep at it, and most people don’t get it or want it. But the ones that do, man, they’re the change makers. They leave the comfort zone seeking growth, with an intoxicating hunger for improvement, for progress, to be the best.
Why am I even talking about this? I guess it’s just to say that if you, too, have a deep, deafening passion and are trying to get great at something, if you love something so much that you’re willing to work on it indefinitely, if you’re shooting for a thing that will take every once of your energy, this is just your reminder that you got this, that you made it this far, that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Keep at it, and hustle the hell out of life to get where you’re going.
I’m striving for greatness, and tonight that looks like dragging myself onto the subway, twisting the key into the narrow door of my apartment, crashing into my blanketed bed. And when I wake up in the morning, guess what I’ll be doing? You guessed it, getting right back at it, damnit.
Which brings me to my final secret, the most important one of all and the one we always seem to forget: We have a finite amount of time. Whatever you do, use your time wisely. Feel that heartbeat in your chest right now? It’s thumping away even as you read this, as you decide what to make of your gifts and talents. To my doers and dreamers, do me a favor and use the energy and intensity that you have. Use it all and as much as you can, as often as you can. Don’t let it go to waste. I know I sure as hell won’t.