Just Because

I am currently working on a project that has been stirring in my periphery for years. I don’t know why I feel compelled to do it, I’ve just kept coming back to it over and over for so long, and now feels like the right time to take it on.

It’s a project that will probably bring delight only to myself and a very small handful of other very specific nerds. It is taking up hours of time every week. I am not getting paid for it. It is something that other people have done versions of already, but none the way I want to do it. No one told me I have to do it. No one is waiting for the finished product.

So why am I doing it? Just because I really want to do it.

This isn’t my first time to the Just Because rodeo. When I was making my way through the Congestion Zone project, I was constantly asked, “Why?”

There were two camps of people who wanted to know.

Some dove in with questions: why do you find it interesting, what made you want to do it,  how are you going about it, where do you walk, how do you record it, what do you see, who do you talk to, what is it like??? Tell me all the things!!

Those were the people who, although they wouldn’t necessarily want to do the same thing themselves, enjoyed experiencing it through my eyes and wanted to feel like they were there doing it with me. They were the ones who got it. They were the ones who lit up as much as I did when we talked about the process of it all, the pleasure of doing it just because it sounded fun. They were my people.

The other side of the coin were the people who just couldn’t get their head around doing something Just Because. These people jumped straight to the end result. What happens when you’re done? What will you sell? What will you make? How will you validate this project when it’s done? How will you show that it was worth your time and energy? How can you monetize this?

These people were very confused and frustrated when I couldn’t give any other reason than, “Just because. I’ve really want to for a long time.”

Had I read Big Magic before this adventure, I would have had a nice little canned response for them. A real zinger that would make me feel good about myself, that would make me feel okay about there not being a “good” reason to give them. It would have been this:

If you can’t see what I am already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you.

How succinct! How lovely! How liberating!

That is not at all how I replied, however.

Sadly, I totally bought into their money-driven view. I completely capitulated and let them run wild with their ideas about what I should make or should build or should sell at the end (I have developed an allergy to the word should in my life now. Be wary of it, my friends!).

Their adamance about what I should be doing with my project, their very strong opinions that I was missing the plot, that I was going to have nothing to show for myself, made me question my approach. Maybe I did need to consider the end result. Maybe I should write a book, or make a map, or make an app. Which meant I should be taking more notes along the way. And doing things differently on my walks to gather all the information I would need.

I would love to say that I stood my ground and that I was able to see through these people straight away, but I would often leave these discussions feeling really stressed out. Depending on the strength of the person’s opinion, it would knock the whole project off kilter for days, sometimes weeks. I would work myself up into a frenzy of Things I Should Be Doing and as, a result, nothing got done.

Why? Because I would start to feel trapped by all the things I should be doing. I didn’t want the project to be about the end result. It was something I was doing just for my own pleasure. I would stop walking just to avoid this inner conflict and began to mourn the loss of this project that brought me so much joy. But, thank god, when I caught myself grieving, I snapped out of it and remembered that it was, in fact, MY project and they could all fuck off.

I would strap on my shoes and walk out the door to explore the streets of London. Just because.

What I want to say to you – you friends out there who are working on projects that you are doing just because you really want to – is not to be like me and buy into this crap about projects needing to have a “purpose.”

Find a big can of fuck off and throw it in the face of anyone who tells you your project isn’t valuable because they don’t understand why you are doing it.

The people who get it, the people who get excited about it with you, who cheer for you even though they don’t really understand it, they are your people. If you don’t think you have those people (though, I can almost guarantee you do) you are still doing for you, just because you want to. And that is enough.

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6 thoughts on “Just Because

  1. twobrownfeet says:

    Hehe! Good for you! I find it hard to not let people get to me. Sigh. And I make the mistake of explaining my point of view. I don’t think there is a perfect answer to ‘why’. 🙂 Very few people get it. All the best with your project.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noelle Poulson says:

      Me too! I really struggle with it. When someone asks me “Why?” I feel like I should have an answer (there’s that pesky *should* again). I really tend to get caught defending myself or trying to stand my ground but feel so easily undermined when someone else shares their opinion. About me. And what I am doing. It’s silly but it’s a hard thing to overcome too. Good to know I have a fellow friend on the journey 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • twobrownfeet says:

        I know exactly what you mean. I’ve tried counting till ten. Or giving witty replies. Sadly, people don’t always get my sarcasm. 🙂 And if nothing works, I weave stories. I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. I forget by how many people and the number of times. But then again, that’s what makes me feel ‘human’. And helps me write. Sometimes, not. Ah! Wish there was a way. Hang in there! I’m equally glad to have found a fellow friend on this journey!

        Like

  2. Sabiscuit says:

    I am allergic to “should”, as well. But in my world, it sounds like, “How about…” and “Why don’t you…?” I think that doing things just because you can do them add value to your life. No need to justify it. You’re doing it and that’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noelle Poulson says:

      So glad you feel the same way. It’s what I love about your blog and you in general, actually. What struck me most when I first came across your site was just how *you* you are. You don’t apologise, you don’t try to impress, you just let loose with who you are and that’s that. You’re an inspiration 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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