Achievement and belonging

When I created my drawings in pastel I did not feel the urge to share them with others. To me, it was enough to draw them. As I wrote before, by means of drawing I fulfilled a necessity. And by fulfilling this necessity I profoundly satisfied my sense of achievement, one of my vital needs. My sense of achievement, in addition, reinforced my sense of autonomy, and vice versa.

Since I quit drawing I found out that not many people satisfy their sense of achievement by doing something just for themselves. To be honest, in my current existence I don’t think it would be enough for me as well. Maybe an experience of necessity is an essential prerequisite.

The moment our sense of achievement is dependent on others, it becomes mixed with our sense of belonging. An example of this I found when I covered a get-together of Dutch YouTube influencers. I tried to understand what makes them tick so I presented many of them with the choice between creating the best video ever or to keep on posting daily video updates. They all chose the latter, explaining that it is the intense contact they have with their followers that brings them fulfillment.

The mixing of our two vital needs, achievement, and belonging, seems to have become stronger in the online realm. Online we can quantify our impact. We have access to statistics showing us how many people are our friends and acquaintances, how many interactions our pictures, updates, and videos have and how many likes, loves or wows we have gathered. The trend that quantity signifies quality for a long time was dominant for professionals only. Because of the online domain, this trend has reached us all.

This has an effect on us. When I wrote for a niche elitist weekly I did not know how many people had actually opened or read my texts. In the six years I contributed I received two letters from readers, one being from a family member in Australia who was happy to have found me. Now, as a blogger contributing to an online platform I know my statistics. I know how many people read my texts on average and per text. I am aware how many times links to my texts are shared on social media. These insights steer me, even though I try not to be steered by them. For instance, I started to avoid book reviews, because they drag my average readership down.

Especially in the current lockdown in which important offline spheres have become inaccessible to us, I try to find new online ways to satisfy my sense of achievement.  One of them is by publishing digital drawings on Facebook and my website. I try hard not to be influenced by the comments and the amounts of likes I get.