Between you and me, I like to think that “despair” is too melodramatic for what we go through sometimes when working alone. However I believe this has more to do with my own discomfort than the word being incorrect.
The dictionary definition of Despair is as follows:
1.loss of hope; hopelessness.
2. someone or something that causes hopelessness: He is the despair of his mother.
verb (used without object)
3. to lose, give up, or be without hope (often followed by of): to despair of humanity.
verb (used with object)
4. Obsolete to give up hope of.
Here’s an extra definition I’d like you to consider;
“Despair: Alone, loneliness, and desolation. To be apart from the rest of the world and feel that you are not understood or fully accepted.”
To be apart – note that this isn’t necessarily ‘better’, just ‘else’. When you train in (I’m assuming) any profession you gain knowledge and a perspective that other people without that training will find it odd, different, or sometimes even hard to understand. As a 3D Artist I’ve noticed that I get far more excited by texture and light than any of my non-art friends, and I’m more likely to be turned off by poor story-telling and cinematography as well.
Case in point, I couldn’t get past the opening credits for Prince of Persia (the movie) because their choice of font struck me as lazy and the acting didn’t help matters.
Feel that you are not understood – Outside of your own circle of artistic friends this is a probability. Have you ever tried to explain just why a particular section of tree bark makes you grin in appreciation to someone that hasn’t ever textured a model? You know this feeling. There’s the disconnect between the words you use to express what you’re feeling and their ability to understand from the words why this is a big deal.
When training you’re generally surrounded by other people that ‘get it’, and if you go to work in some industries the same thing applies. When you make a go of it on your own then you can be left without this particular support network and feel like you’re speaking a foreign language (in most cases, you are).
… Or fully accepted – this is where despair itself sets in. A funny thing happens when you speak a different language to everyone around you; you start to speak in their language in order to communicate. This isn’t a bad thing and its how we survive, though it does mean that you also start to leave out little observations as ‘too difficult to explain’ or ‘not a big deal’. It would take more effort to translate it into something the people around you can understand than the observation is worth it.
Do this too often and you can start to feel very alone indeed.
Shortly, if it remains that way for too long, you start to wonder if your friends would accept you as you are, if you stopped translating or started showing just how weird you can be. It can feel like you’re segmenting your life so that no one actually sees the entirety of You. It matters less that you have other things in common with these people and more than they can ‘never understand’ the rest. The lack of connection leads to dismissing ALL connections, and your fear of isolation becomes fact.
So what can we do to avoid all this crap?
Make friends that will understand. Keep your current friends. Do things that make you happy with each group, and try to relax a bit. Not every one of your friends will understand what you do or everything that excites you; share your insights and small joys with the correct groups and enjoy what’s there.
Your 3D friends may understand the joys (and pains) of modelling, for example, but your other friends may ‘get’ your music, or games, or the fact you like to run off and hide at the beach when its sunny out.
The key is to let people be people (not perfect surrogates that heal every insecurity) and ensure that each facet of your personality has some outlet somewhere.
How to make these friends
Suck it up and go introduce yourself.
This method works especially well on LinkedIn or if you happen to follow 3D blogs and enjoy what you read there. Go say hi, see what happens. Chances are if you’re looking to make friends and hang out, other people will be as well.
Participate in your community.
Forums, events, competitions; go where the other artists are and take part. Reddit is fantastic for this, and there are a bunch of 3D forums out there that you could sign up for and jump in on. People are generally welcoming and if you provide value while you’re hanging out, all to the better.
Keep making other friends too.
Go outside at least once a day. Talk to people, enjoy being part of humanity, drink it in while you’re still here. There’s always some reason to connect and rarely is there a reason to remain ‘alone’.
Go talk to the friends you already have.
And not about this either; hang out, be there for them, enjoy their company. Go do something.
Take part in life to the best of your ability and you won’t have to worry about despair and being alone. Frankly, you won’t have the time.