-Seek Originality.

-Explore Conformity.

-Take Advantage of Fresh Perspective.

I drove home today from a long weekend spent in the Thousand Islands region of Northern New York. I spent the majority of my drive listening to some of my favorite songs from the past 10 years or so, reliving the time period I associated with each song as it played.

The interesting thing about me, is that I used to be a hipster.

My music taste relied heavily on originality and culture behind the artist.

More importantly, it relied on how many people “knew” about the artist (the less the better).

I used the music that I listened to as a way to disassociate myself from the public crowd. I conformed aspects of my personality to be “someone who listens to music you’ve never heard of.”

It’s a weird flex but I absolutely loved it. I found tons of artists whose work I learned valuable lessons from and still hold close to my heart today. But I also hit a point where I lost sight of the value.

Luckily, I eventually reached a place where I got tired of trying to seek originality and was able to find value in the “mainstream.” I found connection to a wider range of people and I found a lot of quality in the work that was far more rare in the music that I previously listened to.

But I noticed that the things I actually liked about the more mainstream music still differed vastly from what the rest of people were talking about. I’m not at all trying to toot my own horn, but rather, introduce my point.

Listening and seeking out less-known music didn’t make me a better person or a more intelligent listener. If fact, it took away my ability to relate to people with other music tastes outside of my own and made me pretty judgmental person.

But when I eventually did explore other realms of music, I realized that my years of pursing originality gave me a completely fresh perspective to this new world of music that I was exploring.

It made me think of the recent tweet from David Perell:

Originality and conformity isn’t a switch you pop on and off, it’s a spectrum: a pendulum you should be traveling between rapidly if you’re trying to make cool shit in this world.

David’s approach explores the nagging voice of resistance that you feel when copying or “conforming” to the norm/expected.

I think this is a useful tactic, but there’s a little more to it. You have to be actively pursuing originality to even hear that voice. If you start conforming as a means to an end there are too may variables in which you can get lost in.

That’s why I seek originality first.

Set your intentions, make a plan, explore new things, and find that niche perspective that’s original to you and your own experiences.

This is called your voice…All artists need it.

I’m glad for my experience being a hipster, but I’m also glad I woke up and opened my eyes to other kinds of art and music outside of my tiny sliver of culture. I may have gotten crap for it from my hipster friends and it may have felt weird at first, but it opened so many doors for myself creatively later in life. Doors of understanding, empathy, and curiosity.

The most exciting thing is, it’s still opening doors to this day. And there are so many more things to explore that will open their own set of doors.

So keep the pendulum swinging, keep seeking, and keep exploring. The creative world is a big one and I promise there’s lots to be discovered.

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