How many times have you heard that one right? May as well talk about “following your passion”, “listening to your heart”, "follow your dreams", blah blah blah. Well its often true that the hardest lessons we learn are the ones we’ve been taught.
Throughout any journey or endeavour, it’s easy to beat ourselves up about all the bumps in the road that come up. When we focus on our shortcomings, we feel defeated and let the overwhelming journey ahead defeat us to a point where we feel like we’ve gotten nowhere.
Being quite vocal about my struggles lately, I was at a point where I was focusing on all of my previous efforts. Looking at where I want to be vs where I am made me feel like a failure.
I’d keep having an internal dialogue saying such things like “I’ve put all of this time and work in yet it still hasn’t happened for me. Why the hell is that”. I can say in retrospect that looking back at myself this was very much a “victim” mindset. Instead of looking at what I could do to better the situation I kept letting this critical dialogue in my head tell me I’m a failure and that I’ve been defeated.
Wanting to get some scope on the situation I caught up with a close friend of mine and was quite open about my problems.
The gist of it, was it’s been a year and a half of me pursuing a freelance career, and I haven’t reached my financial goals. Which in turn made me feel like a failure.
My friend asked me “what were your priorities when you left the agency?”. I merely said without hesitating that:
I was focused on a body of work and a skillset. Comparing myself to the reasons I wanted to be a graphic designer, I didn’t feel like I had the body of work or even the skillset to match the style of work I truly wanted to do.
He then asked if I had any financial goals at that time. Which I simply responded:
None at all, for me it was all about finding that skillset and diving into the illustration world and developing my craft and body of work.
He then said his observations back to me, in clarity I couldn’t believe:
“Sounds to me that you’re ready to shift into a different direction. To me, it sounds like you’ve met your initial goals from when you left. At first, you were thinking about your voice and how you could solve your personal creative problem. Whereas now it sounds like you’re looking at how you can take what you can do to benefit other people. Which in turn is a business and that will generate revenue for you. Which is now your goal for the next couple of years. How you need to look at this is your ready for the next chapter. You’re ready for the next part of your journey”.
This absolutely blew my mind. This whole time I was embedding myself in my identity to date and was looking at my previous actions and body of work and being upset that “the future hadn’t happened for me”. In these simple words of “you’re ready for the next chapter” changed my outlook completely.
As we grow and evolve our goals change. The circumstances around us change. We grow, and we want different things for ourselves. And that’s ok. We don’t have to keep beating a dead horse if we’re not in that time and place anymore.
The clarity this conversation gave me was immense. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt this freedom to head into a direction I naturally wanted to for myself.
For anyone facing a similar circumstance I highly recommending finding people, you can be completely open to and talk about how your feeling and your struggles. If you’re lucky enough to have someone in a similar industry to you even better.
Even if you’re incredibly shy and introverted, I highly recommend writing out how you feel about things. It’s effortless to neglect our emotional health in these fast moving times, but the benefit of nurturing ourselves in this way is essential to the future we desire.
Let's open up and not be shy to create an open dialogue. Who knows what types of problems this can resolve without even realising how heavy our burdens were weighing us down. Let's do what we can to support one another.