Friday, May 8, 2020

Overcoming Discouragement

Today I want to talk about failure and discouragement.

Being an artist can come with it's challenges, some of them being creative burnout and self-confidence.

I think sometimes in other disciplines it can be easier to separate the self from the work (though maybe this is just my assumption).   There has been this age old adage in creative fields that "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life".   For the most part that is a sentiment I'd like to aspire to live by.  I want to live a life where I'm excited and inspired to work everyday — and for the most part, I feel that reality is the truth!

But it's not always sunshine and daisies.  Sometimes, especially if that creative job is a self-run business, and you are the only "employee", it can get kind of lonely, and it can be hard to lift yourself out of those little ebbs and flows of the business cycle, creative burnout, and continue feeling inspired  and productive consistently.   At least for me, it can be draining simply not having anyone to turn to to tell about something I'm excited to be working on, because I don't know anyone else IRL who is doing what I'm doing.  What I would give for a little "co-worker chat"about blogging!

Sometimes it can be hard to always be your own cheerleader, as it were.

And sometimes because what you've built is all your passion, and everything you love and get excited about, if it fails, then it can feel like YOU failed.

Now imagine you've spent all that time relying on your own pep talks, and you come across someone who can't wrap their head around what you do.   Say they don't value art (the absolute best version of this being those who would like you to do some obscure art thing that likely has nothing to do with your niche "for exposure", AKA no money, and don't understand why you're not just throwing yourself at that opportunity!!), or just can't understand what you do and feel they need to convince you to "Get a real job".

Handling these various types of discouragement can be challenging, especially if any of it is persistent!

So then, what can we creatives do to overcome these various forms of discouragement, and power through to keep doing what we love?

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I can share what I've done in some situations.

For any person that doesn't "get you" and your work...

Like, whatever!  They aren't paying you!  They aren't your boss.  They certainly don't get to tell you what makes you happy.  If doing what you do has you waking up everyday eager to greet the day and start creating, then who is to tell you that you aren't allowed to do it?  It's honestly just rude on their part, and perhaps an indicator they are also unaware that there is more than one path to success in life?

Does anybody really understand what half of the jobs out there in the world actually are?  I think there's this 'starving artist' stereotype that for some reason leads some people to believe that they can label you as unsuccessful regardless of actual reality.

The cumulative answer to this problem is that it's really none of their beeswax!

It's certainly easier said than done to ignore these negative opinions, especially if they come from people you care about, so I'll offer an addendum to it as well:

Surround yourself with people who lift you up, and lean into those friendships.   If that negative comment is just one floating in a sea full of support, then it will feel a lot smaller.  Reach out and find connections to fill your life with positive vibes.

The arguably harder hurdle to overcome is the fault lines in your own confidence.

Well, in case you need to hear it, you matter.  I'm telling you right now that you are awesome.  You have worth and you are the one and only you.   And you are enough.   So there's one person telling you already.

It can be easy not to believe these things, and hard to tell yourself these things daily.  That you are only human and you are doing your best.  There are so many pressures in society these days, telling us how to be, when to be, as well as conflicting opinions on what or how to be.

Whatever you choose is right.

I would recommend — and I will say that I still struggle with these things, so I'm certainly not an exhaustive resource— allowing yourself time to rest and practice self care.  Seriously, buy that bath bomb and that sage scented candle you saw at Home Goods, take a nap at 2pm, take the afternoon off and go down to the beach for a few hours.  Some days I'm just feeling so defeated, whether its a dreary day and I haven't heard from anyone in a while, or a post didn't perform well, or I just can't seem to get a shoot to work out for me, and I feel a little hopeless, like who do I think I am to be trying to do this with my life?   If it's getting that bad, just call it.  You're not going to get anywhere with all that bad juju floating about.  Call a trusted friend, go read a book, or take a walk outside and take a look at all the beauty that surrounds you.  Then in a couple hours, go take another stab at it.

The only exclusion I would make to that is if you have a deadline or are also a blogger like me and you're out shooting and nothing is working.  If that's the case, take a deep breath, take a shorter break, and try approaching it from a different angle — literally.

I'd also recommend filling your workspace with things that inspire you: books you love or some of your favorite artist's prints.  One thing I've got in my cart currently is The Latest Kate's book — it's full of inspirational uplifting drawings that just fill me with so much joy!

I know there's probably more creatives working at home in isolation now more than ever, so I hope at least some of this helps in some small way.   Just know that you are wonderful!

Until Next Time, 

— The Lovely Red Fox

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