When people outside the creative space describe professions in the creative industry, they usually talk about them as though they are not real jobs. “Oh, you’re a content creator”, “You make skits, that’s what you do for a living?”, …
They don’t always talk about creative professions in a deadpan disrespectful manner, many people, if not most people in this current age respect creatives. However, the overarching theme is that creatives are just having a ton of fun without having any downtime and getting paid for it. While in some ways creatives are living the dream, the picturesque view of creatives that pervades popular culture is as whitewashed as photos on Instagram
This article is supposed to be a safe space where I can loosen this baggage and explore some of the fears that creatives face and how to overcome them.
1. The fear of failure.
Humans naturally gravitate towards pleasure and away from pain. Failure is painful, it’s not rocket science why we dread failing.
To worsen things, we live in a time where the ubiquitous culture is one where failure is seen as sacrilegious, even though we all have experienced failure at some point in our lives.
As a creative, failure at some point is inevitable(or at least, highly probable). Elon Musk once said, “Failure is an option here, if you’re not failing, you’re not innovating enough”.
The process of overcoming failure involves:
1. Understanding that failure is part of life — Life is a game, and like in any game, you win some and lose some. Failure is a powerful teacher. Every failure holds lessons and many times a failure is a pivotal event preceding a major success.
2. Dissociating a failed project from yourself, don’t let failure define you — The fact that your album failed commercially doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it simply means that the album just didn’t work out.
3. The final and most important step is to learn from the failure and move on quickly.
2. The fear of ‘putting out trash’.
This fear is birthed from feeling that your work is not good enough. Many people will say that to overcome this hurdle you just have to “believe in yourself, you can do it, tell yourself that your work is amazing”. This is just absolute hooey, sometimes your work will not be ‘amazing’, particularly when you’re starting. Understand that the work you’ll create at first will not be your best, finesse it to your taste, put it out and keep working, keep creating — Consistently making gradual improvements is what leads to mastery.
Self-belief and self-criticism are the twin forces that drive a creative to produce excellent work. You have to learn to balance these two forces. Leaning too much to one end of the spectrum is dangerous.
3. The third fear is the fear of success.
This might seem ironic as the holy grail of every creative profession is eventual success. The thing is that success comes with change, and with change comes a degree of uncertainty. Humans hate uncertainty.
Success comes with a lot of extra baggage — Sycophants start gravitating towards you, people start treating you differently, everyone around you suddenly starts telling you just what you want to hear, internet trolls jump on your matter every time you comment on a controversial subject, people start holding you to a certain standard, people start putting you under pressure to deliver on your previous success, … it can be a lot.
Overcoming this fear requires looking at the holistic impact of success on your life — weighing the positives and the negatives. Success comes with some negatives but the positives of getting to the zenith of your craft by far outweigh every negative.
Creatives, just like regular people, face challenges — We have fears and hurdles we have to navigate through every day. And in some ways, navigating through this maze filled with hurdles is what adds spice to the game and makes success truly valuable.