This blog post is going to be incredibly selfish. Under the weight of a lot of my own misdirection, I figured I’d need to spill myself onto the page to get some clarity.
Contextually two years ago I left a design agency I was working at to have this grand plan of “starting my own business”. A year and seven months in I’ve realised that I’ve had absolutely no idea as to what I was doing. If anything it’s felt like a really naive and unplanned attempt at “following my passion”.
Looking back there was so much I didn’t have planned. If anyone confronted me with the hard questions, I would have probably shrugged my shoulders and said: “I have no idea”.
The following are questions I need to be answered right now which I still feel like I have no idea about:
Where was the revenue going to come from?
Where was the audience going to come from?
How were you going to build this audience?
Even just writing these questions I just shudder because I have absolutely no idea. All of these things are so foreign and unknown to me.
The funny things are my perspective from working in an agency was that “there’d always be clients around”. There was always “work to do”.
Yet I barely had an audience, I didn’t have a following, and quite frankly no one was really caring about what I’m doing. Ironically still to this day that’s still the case. Apparently, in my head, I was a lot better, and higher then I thought I was.
My lack of direction makes me feel like a massive failure. My indecision is creating a lot of confusion. I’m scared to pick myself up and dust myself off and make my next movements out of fear of say failure and making another mistake.
This feels absolutely frantic to write and probably just as desperate and messy to read. But I’m slowly grasping the clarity come through as I get my thoughts out.
Additionally, right now I’m turning 26 this year. Sounds really egotistical but honestly, I thought I’d be further ahead in both my career and financial aspects. Being four years away from 30 is fucking scary for me. I feel I need to get my shit together and stop meandering so much.
The amount I've been meandering recently is ridiculous. Over this year and seven months, I’ve chaotically explored so much. Initially, when I left the agency, I was experimenting with illustration; until I felt it wasn’t my strength. So then I worked on doing logo design and branding projects. Then after that, I went back to my roots and started doing lettering and typography. After getting sick of putting out the same work I began meshing memes with illustration. Though due to impatience and wanting more “results” I then reverted two months later to targeting more commercial illustration work. So counting off the top, that’s 5 different things over a 19 month period. Which gives an average of 3.8 months to each item. Apparently not enough time of consistently putting work out to make a big difference.
I feel the way I’m writing this is the equivalent of a “live feed”. To put the reader in my headspace, I’m really just doing a brain dump and responding to my own questions, heartaches and struggles as I’m pouring my self on the page.
It’s completely frustrating. I feel like I’ve put all my hope in one basket as far as patience, persistence and trusting the process. Maybe it’s my head getting in the way, but I feel like I’ve lost trust in it. Before all this, I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. Whereas now as I’m itching on in life, I don’t want to keep blindly putting my energy toward something that I won’t get a return on.
How long do you push at something until you know it’s time to say give up?
The other scary part is initially, and in the beginning, the goal was very much “creativity” and proving I had a skillset. Now my goals are financially based. My goals and passions have shifted from that kid who wanted to explore his creative abilities. Funnily enough now, I want fucking results. Yet I don't have an objective perspective as to what those goals are.
Another thing I’ve been going through as I walk around is I’ve been thinking about the person I want to become. I look at people who seem to be passed 30, that gives me this sense of anxiety of "If my life keeps going down this road what are my thirties going to look like?". Which is making me want to “smarten up”. Four years ago aspiring to be that creative in ratty clothes and a beanie was fine for me. Though as I’m getting older, my priorities are really starting to shift.
After writing all of this, it’s obvious how much I'd focus on mapping out and creating “success” rather than focusing on the love or enjoyment of what I’m doing. With all this freedom and opportunity I keep falling into the trap of trying to make a success instead of doing decent work to create those possibilities. I really need to react to my current set of circumstances instead of trying to plan for things to happen before they even do. Aka I should let them happen rather than planning for them to happen.
I need to stop thinking that I’ve got everything all figured out. The more I talk to people about this they keep telling me the same thing: you haven’t put that much time into this, and you’ve been meandering too much. I need to stick to one thing and just focus on creating great work and nothing else. Things are going to take a long time to build but so be it.
For anyone out there who read this whole thing I really appreciate you reading this brain dump!