Something I’m trying to work on (this is not a resolution, as I Do Not Do Resolutions) is to be more supportive.
When I was a fresh-faced baby creative I tended to be really enthusiastic and supportive about whatever my friends were doing, whether they asked for my support or not. Unfortunately they were often not supportive in turn. This was a bit of a double-whammy, as I felt crappy for not being supported, but equally crappy for having the sense that they “owed” me something. My solution to this was to go be a lone cowboy creative, asking for nothing and needing nothing in return, whistling softly and forlornly to myself as I ate canned beans by the fire.
I don’t know that this was necessarily a bad choice for me. I’ve become very self-sufficient as a result, while validation is nice it’s not necessarily needed and sometimes I’m even wary of it. I’ve seen a lot of friends struggle with needing creative validation and support and not getting it. But it’s also true that even a small bit of support and encouragement can go a really long way, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with being nice to people.
A friend of mine, Rabbit, has decided to make some big changes, including getting back into making jewelry. She told me about her Etsy earring store ages ago and I never bought anything because I don’t have pierced ears. At the time it seemed like a logical choice, why buy something I couldn’t use? But now I realize I had an opportunity to do a nice friend thing for her and I didn’t. I feel kinda bad about it. I could have bought some jewelry as gifts, or just because, to show her I supported her.
Around Christmas an old friend emailed me out of the blue to ask that I review his ebook. It’s a book outside my genre (New Adult, I write science fiction and speculative fiction mostly). I may not be the ideal person to review his book, but hey, who is? I’d just resolve dto be more supportive and he’s not asking for a 12-page critique, he just wants a nice review. So I read it and left a review I thought would encourage him.
My thinking is you should support things you like whenever you can, and support friends within reason with the assumption they won’t not reciprocate, all the while keeping an eye out for people who will reciprocate. Those are the people you can start building a supportive artistic relationship with, and they are probably outside your current peer/family group. You will only find a few people like that, as they are rare, but it will be worth it.