The other day someone asked me what the weirdest thing I ever did with Barbies was. It was one of those I-am-SO-bored-that-I’m-asking-you-the-most-random-thing-I-can-think-of kind of question. I suppose they were expecting me to say that I stripped them naked and chased my brothers around the house with them, but what I did was far more weird.
I’d write and illustrate newsletters based on the adventures my Barbies would go on.
I know, I really marched to the beat of my own drum.
I’ve loved communicating for as long as I can remember – telling stories and drawing pictures to accompany them. In my last year of high school, I either wanted to become the next JK Rowling and write OR explore visual communication. What I really wanted was to quit life and run away to Hogwarts but alas that was not an option. Apparently it was my lot in life to be a boring, nonmagical Muggle. My back up plan was studying Graphic Design at OCAD where I tried my hand at art directing, design, photography…anything I could do to express myself.
I’ve always had more to say than I had ears to listen. I guess it doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that I’d eventually start a blog, but I almost didn’t.
It wasn’t because everyone and their grandma has a blog so admitting that I blog makes me wince (it does) but I had a lot of demons to vaporize; a lot of fears I had to rationalize away; a lot of defence mechanisms to override. While creatives are especially prone to this anxiety-ridden process as what we produce is subjective and therefore under constant scrutiny and criticism, everyone and anyone who dreams big can relate to the many fears that hold us back from reaching for our goals.
While writing posts consistently for 17 weeks in a row may not seem like a big deal to seasoned bloggers, the mountain of fears I have to overcome makes it a personal victory. The joy I have derived from blogging has definitely made it worth the effort.
Here Are 8 Fears That Can Stand In The Way of Success:
1/ SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY DONE IT. WHY BOTHER?
This is like if Starbucks had said “There’s already a Second Cup, we don’t need another coffee joint.” Or more realistically “There’s already other Starbucks on this block, we don’t need another one.” But then I’d have to walk a couple steps further to get my tall one pump hazelnut, one pump vanilla, soy, caramel macchiato and that just won’t do! Everything HAS been done but no one can do it the way YOU can. Don’t deprive the world of what you can bring to the table.
2/ WHAT IF I MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE AND WASTE MY TIME?
Making a choice doesn’t mean forsaking the rest of your options. NO choice is the wrong choice. You don’t want to spend your life watching a fig tree, coveting all the fruit but unable to decide which to devour till they all shrivel up and die. Eat the damn figs, one at a time till you find the best one! Each wrong choice serves a purpose, if only as a stepping stone, bringing you closer to your ultimate goal by process of elimination. It’s a much better use of time than waffling in the limbo that is indecision.
3/ HOW CAN I MAKE IT HAPPEN IF I’VE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE?
Knowing comes from doing; from experience. The more you do, the more confident you will become. You can plan and prepare all you want; read textbooks and take courses but theory and practical skill are completely different. Start small and you’ll figure it out as you go. I bet if you told an acorn it was going to grow into a great, big oak tree, it’d be like “Oh hell no! There’s no way that’s happening.” Whereas if you said the same thing to an ALMOST fully grown oak tree that only needed a few more leaves, it’d be a lot more conceivable.
4/ WHY DON’T I WAIT UNTIL IT’S PERFECT?
Perfect doesn’t exist so you’ll be waiting a LONG time. This is just another stalling tactic that we use to trick ourselves into not doing the things that we want but are afraid to do. Before I made my blog live I wanted to have five finished posts, develop stylized visuals, flesh out the categories, etc… While it’s good to be ambitious, building a “perfect” grand plan in you head of how you want something to be can be intimidating and tempt you to quit before you even start. Done is better than good.
5/ WHAT IF I FAIL IN FRONT OF EVERYONE AND EMBARRASS MYSELF?
The Spotlight Effect is when we feel that people are paying more attention to us than they actually are. We’re not necessarily being narcissistic but we see the world from our own perspective so we assume that other people see and feel the same. Even at a Beyonce concert, people are busy taking selfies, texting, talking, worrying about whether they turned the stove off, etc… that only a fraction of their attention is hailing Queen Bey. The diffusion of attention liberates us to do whatever we want with less pressure to succeed.
6/ NO ONE WILL LIKE/FOLLOW WHAT I DO SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
Remember before there was social media and we didn’t give AF about such things as likes or follows or other empty, meaningless forms of validation? Do it because it brings you joy! Doing what we love is a gift that we give ourselves. We share it with the world in the hopes of adding value to the lives of others, not so that they can validate our feelings of success. The real question should be What’s the point of doing something if it doesn’t make YOU happy?
7/ WHAT IF I LOSE MY MOTIVATION AND QUIT?
The reality is that not every part of the creative process is going to be exciting. Part of progress is the mundane, tedious, nose-to-the-grind work but if you can accept that it’s part of the creative process as much as the dynamic brainstorming stage, it’ll be a lot easier to power through. You can flit from project to project and quit every time it gets boring or you can stick with it and reap the rewards of a more fulfilling satisfaction in the end. Consistency is key to happiness so do not give yourself the option to quit.
8/ WHAT IF I FAIL?
It’s almost guaranteed that you will fail more often than you will succeed. You can put everything you have into something – your commitment and determination – and still come up short. But growth only comes from failure and it frees you from the nagging voice in your mind, asking you “What if?” Also you need those failures to serve as contrast to make your successes even sweeter.