I've touched up on stepping out of your comfort zone in a few of my posts, and I think this is a great quote to really bring it home. To help explain it a bit, I take "assert integrity of purpose" to mean approach what you do with a sense of determination and believing in yourself and what you're doing 100%. And I think of "imaginative vision" to mean full of possibilities. Glass always half full. There is no end to the ideas. So the quote would mean to be who you are, no matter what (because being who you are almost never fully correlates with following the crowd), and do it in a way proves you believe in yourself and your endless ideas, in a way that you know you'll succeed if you keep working at it, especially if there are those around you who don't believe in you.
If you're starting out, this can be a lot harder than you'd think, especially if you're used to having your ideas crushed, one after another. It's harder when you realize you have to deal with a lot of untouched emotional or psychological stuff that had been, up until now, happily ignored. It's harder to do when the people closest to you say things that don't appear to be supportive, and you listen to it, react to it, causing self-doubt. Now, about that... if the people closest to you are honest with you, listen to them. But listen to the message and decide for yourself if it's a helpful bit of criticism, something you can work with, or if it's a useless negative comment. Criticism or valid arguments are helpful and make you think deeper on what it is you're trying to accomplish. If the person says things like "who would pay for something like that?" ignore it. It's not helpful or useful; it's an assumption. You can dig deeper to find out why the person doesn't think it's a marketable item, but if it's simply something they're not personally interested in, that's just a matter of opinion. But, you can learn from that comment, do a bit of market research, spread the news, get feedback, ask the world via social media channels and make your work public, and in that way find out if there is interest. This gets so much easier as you grow your followers, because you know those people are interested in what you have to offer. This is also why growing them through artificial means, like posing or fishing for likes doesn't work. It doesn't take a lot for someone to "like" something on your pages. Also, posing is essentially lying about what you have to offer, and lying and integrity don't go together. However, if you see people engaging, if you see comments asking for it, THAT you know shows genuine interest.
Those last few lines aren't hard to understand, and I love the way that it's worded. Play-it-safers. Creatures of the commonplace. Slaves of the ordinary. These are the people who are perfectly fine going through the motions, who don't like to rock the boat, who run from heated debates and the slightest bit of confrontation (not to be confused with drama. Run from that as fast as you can.). These are people who would rather stay silent than speak out against injustices, who would follow the crowd even if the crowd isn't making sense, who get caught up in mass hysteria instead of trying to figure out the why. Why? because everyone else is doing it. The classic "if everyone jumped off the bridge, would you?" comes to mind. And if these people are really close to you, they are more likely to give a hard time about you stepping out of the crowd, because it reflects on them. You're THAT friend, you're THAT family member, you're THAT spouse, and they don't want to give anyone the idea that they associate with someone who bucks the system and follows the beat of their own drum. The reason is simple... doing crazy things on your own, always chasing another wild idea, coming up with elaborate inventions, dressing like a rainbow, swearing like a sailor if that's who you are, decorating your personal space in unconventional methods (or as I like to think, all the people I'd love to hang out with)... all that draws attention. And getting attention means being different. And being different is uncomfortable! Just watching someone be different and getting attention for it is uncomfortable. Heaven forbid they're spotted out in public with you. Look, I understand that we have a primal need to fit in... but if you're different by being yourself, you can fit in with all of us other crazy different folks :) (que chant from the movie Freaks)
It used to make me uncomfortable, the whole idea of getting attention, but deep down I admired those artsy friends of mine who would come up with the coolest unconventional outfits and make it work, who didn't care about being pierced and tattooed and wore it with pride, who dyed their hair blue or red or pink or anything they wanted. I love watching performance art, those who play in public, who practice their art in public, even if I'd never opt to do it myself. Years ago, the idea of sitting outside at a festival demonstrating my art and drawing attention would've been horrifying (and leading up to it, I was a bit anxious but not in a bad way). The trick, I've learned, is being true to yourself, and whatever you do, do it with pride and full of confidence. I've since learned that most people are just as uncomfortable as you are, possibly even more. But most of all, they're just people. People whose opinions of you don't count in the grand scheme of things. And people you may become friends with because they're drawn to you being yourself! Those are the best kinds of friends - those that accept you the way you are when you're at your most vulnerable. These are people who don't want your facade, who don't want your fitting in. Those who prefer the facade, you don't really want them around, and being yourself is the best way to weed them out.
Be daring. Be vulnerable. Be confident. Be creative. Most of all, be yourself.