Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK
“Be who you are. Do what you do. Support each other and the community.”
This was my wrap up comment at Steampunk Invasion in Dallas, Texas in 2014 as part of a closing panel, and it remains my tag line and encouragement to everyone, every day.
As individuals, we each have our interests and ways of doing things. Our priorities are different, our guiding beliefs are different, and while there are overlaps with others, we are ourselves, always.
Societal and cultural customs and traditions, and general peer pressure, may “encourage” us to conform and do what others do. It’s a good thing, surely, to be nice to each other, and be helpful as well can to those who need it. Civility and courtesy are generally regarded as positive attributes, while hate speech and discrimination are not. Religions have some variation of these ideas, and offer good advice like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Judge not, lest you be judged.” In other words, heed the immortal words of two Wills – William Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true”, and Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.”
Beyond all of that, however, each of us should be happy in our lives. Our lives are OURS, and we should live it for ourselves to be happy in it. Each morning when we wake up, we should be able to be happy with who we are as a person, working to be the best person we can be, and hopefully, all of that shows in what we do and how we treat others.
We enter into friendships and relationships because we are happy being with that other person, and we want them to be happy, too. We make choices so that “we” are happy together.
“Be who you are.” Aside from what we actually do, and what others think, who are we? Who is that you want to be? What are those inner guidelines that each of us lives by? Are you a person who loves the frenetic energy of city life, or prefers the quiet of country life? Do you like to wear bright colors, or prefer monochrome? Laugh at kid-fail videos, cry at emotional parts of movies, smile at store cashiers, give the stink eye to hateful people?
What are the words the come to mind when you say to yourself “I am …”? Kind, caring, compassionate? No-nonsense, realistic, pragmatic? Fun, funny, uplifting?
All of those things make up who you are and tie back into living your life so that you are happy. If you are happy, you can share that happiness with others.
“Do what you do.” This was said in regards to what each of us creates, be it writing, music, artwork, events, or connecting people. Do what you do to make yourself happy and satisfied, and do it without comparison to others, and without regards to expectations of others. Some people won’t understand your “eccentric” and “outlandish” actions, they may be insulting and derisive about it. They might be bullies and mock you. So what? Their world is much smaller than yours, they will never understand why something in your life is valuable and meaningful to you. That’s ok, you have to live your life for yourself, not for them. Doesn’t mean that some moments aren’t going to suck having to endure their negativity, but in the end, you know you are doing what makes you happy and that their opinion is pretty much irrelevant.
Personally, I spend my time every day doing what brings fulfillment to my life, and I do it without apologies to anyone. We all need a job to pay our bills, and thankfully I have one now that I thoroughly enjoy. Too many people have jobs they hate, and I’ve been in those situations too, where there is no immediate solution or option to change. There are realities to be faced which may limit our options, but we can still work toward making our life better.
I spend time on my hobbies and interests, and I don’t spend time on things that don’t make my life better. Dinners with friends are fun for me, huge parties not so much. Pad Thai with tofu is a big yes, but onions-mushrooms-green peppers as vegetables are cause to skip right to dessert.
“Support each other and our community.” We, usually, don’t live in a vacuum, even those of who aren’t terribly social, and we are all part of the steampunk community. We are part of a global village, and that will only thrive and grow when we support each others efforts and lift each other up instead of tearing them down.
We can be happy for other people’s achievements, and share the accomplishments. We can reach out and share our own knowledge and skills to train and educate others. Jealously guarding your ‘secrets’ means you just don’t play well with others, while sharing your expertise means you become a valued resource that people will turn to.
Each of us has helped create this community, and each of us has the opportunity to keep it going. We attend events and that interest can spur the next one to be held. We buy goods and service so that those makers and creators can afford to continue making and creating. We lift up each other with compliments and suggestions so that we can all be better together.
Every day, we have the chance to make our own life better, to be happier, and with that, to share that happiness and goodwill to make the lives of others better, too.