There’s an episode of Mad Men in which a character who plays an actress on a TV show freaks out and storms off. Her mother, stunned by the outburst, remarks to her daughter’s husband, “This is what happens when you have the artistic temperament, but you’re not an artist.”

While a bit cruel, I can’t say the line isn’t applicable to a lot of people I know. Growing up just outside of New York City, I was surrounded by people who think very literally and don’t dwell on things like life and death, as well as people who do the opposite.

Though these people tend to consider themselves ‘starving artists’ for credulity’s sake, there’s nothing particularly heroic about their actions.

In pursuit of showing how above their simple-minded counterparts they were, the latter group elected uniformly to create something. Something unique, you see, that will span the generations and definitively stake their place in history as being special in a distinct and obvious fashion. Once you factor in not having a steady source of income to fund this passion project, the smug superiority only intensifies. For even van Gogh had to burn his paintings to stay warm in the winter, and such is merely the plight of the artist in an unforgiving world.

Except that’s not true. Not even a little bit, really. An important point to all of this is that, though these people tend to consider themselves “starving artists” for credulity’s sake, there’s nothing particularly heroic about their actions. A lot of times they won’t even try to get jobs in the service or retail industry on account of it being beneath them. More power to you if you want to make something creative and personal, but don’t put on a whole song-and-dance about how the world is out to get you when you yourself won’t even try to move out of dire straits for wholly unspecified reasons.

You’re not a hero for being broke, and you’re not better than anyone. Better to rip that band-aid off sooner rather than later. Art should be taken seriously because the people who make it should take their work seriously, but that dedication must go hand in hand with maturity.

So if you aren’t trying to devalue your work with corporate influence and you refuse to make any sacrifice that won’t enhance your image, then stop what you’re doing right now, take a deep breath and go fuck yourself.