We’ve all been through it and we’ll all go through it again. Currently, with this COVID-19 virus mess infiltrating the globe, we’re experiencing things that most of us have never felt or been a part of before. Each one of us is having to learn new ways of living, working and experiencing life.
Anxiety is running pretty high, as is stress and uncertainty. This post highlights what a few people from various creative fields try and do to make the most of our circumstances. Granted, it’s a fairly lengthy piece but the feedback and perspectives yielded by these fellow practitioners are worth the read (no brag, just my opinion).
These insights from writers, photographers, designers, and illustrators — on what they’ve learned about feeling stuck, the comparison trap, and trusting yourself in times of uncertainty — are especially even more pertinent now.
1. Learn to differentiate between feeling and fact.
“I think we all have feelings of inadequacy and it’s both normal and necessary to self-assess our skills and knowledge,” explains Stockholm-based illustrator and print designer Adriana Bellet. “The tricky part is to be able to differentiate when it’s just a projection of our insecurities and when it’s actually a fair warning for us to brush up on our knowledge and keep ourselves up-to-date by developing a new skill.”
For Cape Town-based writer, speaker, and coach Pierre Du Plessis, it helps to distinguish between what is feeling and what is fact. “Simply because I’m feeling stuck, uncertain, or like a failure does not mean it is necessarily true. It helps me to take a step back, look objectively at the situation, my own talents, and listen to the voices of those who support me to get past these emotions.”
2. Life happens while we’re busy making other plans.
While New York City-based illustrator Thoka Maer has never had a grand plan, but nothing was purely down to chance for her either. “For the most part, I trust my intuition, frequently ask ‘why not’ and also put in a truckload of work.”
This trifecta — trusting yourself, calling on curiosity, and doing the work — can lead to career-defining moments. “In 2012, my Tumblr with original GIFs suddenly blew up. That was unexpected momentum that slingshot me into some good opportunities,” adds Thoka.
Even our best laid plans can feel like they were penned by a stranger after some months or years pass. This rings true for Elif.
We are dynamic, ever-changing beings. And just like ourselves, our environment, culture, and the technology we have to respond to are constantly changing too. Being fit enough to respond to those is a relevant skill for this century.” — Elif Gürbüz
Such an attitude can lead us to entirely new professions. For Johannesburg -based sketchnoter Roy Blumenthal, a new career came from an unexpected tap on the shoulder. “I was at a conference, doodling my observations in my notebook,” he recalls. “At the end of the event, someone sitting nearby asked if I was a visual facilitator. I wasn’t. I was an advertising copywriter, filmmaker, and industrial theatre creator, but we exchanged business cards. After some practice, I reached out and she hired me for my first paid gig as a sketchnoter.”
3. Careers are about direction, not speed.
Pierre has experienced how leaning into a specific direction can help us spot new opportunities. “There is something to commitment and being clear on what you want that allows the rest to manifest,” he points out. “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you there. Better it is you who chooses the destination and then make adjustments on your route as you go.”