Photograph from author’s sticky note gallery. Quoted note — “unknown”.

Listen to Your Inner Salmon and Fuck the “Likes”

Sticky note advice to get you back where you belong.

I want to write. More specifically, I want to write and become a better writer. And like most, I face the same creative blocks and challenges as anyone trying to be a better something or become more skilled at whatever it is that makes one feel satisfied, alive, or at home. I do have practice facing my challenges head-on, but sometimes the distractions and the inner voices get the best of me and my creative practice.

During these cloudy times, I often write little notes to myself on sticky notes. Sometimes these messages are meant to motivate me; other times, they are little drill sergeants keeping me in check. But my favorite “notes to self” are the ones that come from moments of clarity—those big aha moments when all makes sense in the world. And I think if I get this one sentence or thought down on a sticky note, it will be forever a documented reminder of that clarity. It can be the voice needed to move me forward and walk me on the path to happiness and success. Or, it can be a simple cue to deliver me once again to the one place where it all made sense once upon a time. The land of un-doubt. Could there be such a place?

Well, these sticky notes say it is so. So I continue to jot these moments of enlightenment down, collecting them and coveting them. The edge of my desktop computer has become a little gallery of colorful layers of aha!

Last week as I was sifting through the noise that seemed to be holding me back from becoming a better writer, I tripped over a piece of self-advice that was worthy of a sticky. A voice within that had been swimming furiously upstream like a salmon ensuring its own survival, at last, shouted, “Fuck the ‘likes’!!” This uncomplicated yet rather harsh advice arrived as a wet slap across my face knocking me abruptly out of my senseless mental block.

“Yeah, fuck ’em.”, I shouted aloud with a knowing that I hadn’t felt before. I realized how much time and energy had been wasted on that imaginary approval button. I saw the wrongdoings of marketing education being shoved down our throats. I understood without a doubt how harmful those “likes” are to becoming that better something — whatever it is.

And just like that, this little piece of advice was the shift necessary to gain a new perspective. It was a door I hadn’t chosen before that suddenly swung open. Light from the sky of possibility poured over me. I saw new choices laid out in front of me like a Christmas feast. My purpose, my real purpose, had now been re-purposed. I began connecting my purpose directly to my creative contributions instead of a purpose that was driven by the approval of strangers. Aha!

Shortly after that, I heard a song from Adele’s newest album with lyrics conversing with my inner salmon. She sings,

Why am I obsessing about the things I cannot control? Why am I seeking approval from people I don’t even know. In these crazy times, I hope to find something I can cling on to. Cause I need some substance in my life. Something real, something that feels true. (from “I Drink Wine” — Thanks, Adele!)

Well, it seems my sticky note to self is public sticky for you now, too. And not because I need your approval, but because I want to share with you that your own “like” is the only one that genuinely counts. Because if you are looking for substance, that is the something that feels true.

From my sticky note gallery to yours:

Create to create (and for no other reason at all). Make stuff that matters to you. Listen to your inner salmon. Fuck the “likes”. Focus on being better at whatever the fuck matters most to you.

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Holly Blondin

Holly Blondin

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Creative Artist. Professor, Strategic Design. Educator of Creative + Innovation Methodologies. Speaker. Blogger — A Creative Life Revealed www.hollyblondin.com