If you're creating or building something important to you right now, you might have accumulated so many doubts already, that you've stopped trusting in your capacity to achieve anything at all.
If it's the case, know that you're not the only one (duh!) and that there are solutions for it. But above all, it starts with the right mindset. You could have all the techniques in the world, if you don't start trusting and doing, nothing will happen. So, get yourself comfortable and be open to what's coming.
Let's do it, shall we?
Just A Few Warnings Before You Read This Post...
In this article I'll drop the a- and f-bomb pretty often. I try not to do it too much, not because I'm afraid of doing so, but because, overused, it loses its power.
If you feel offended by it, you shouldn't scroll any further.
Also, I wanted to add a note on the word "success" and the expression "to make it."
Success is something you define. It's living life on your terms.
However, what I mean by "success" and "making it" as an artist or creator in this article is having reached a level of recognizance and revenue for your work, that satisfies you.
The starving artist still is a cliché based on some proof. Lots of creators struggle to make both ends meet. And I don't want to know how many actors fail to make it in Hollywood.
But as I will describe it further in this article, the more you do, the higher your chances are, to make a living out of your art. Whatever that might be.
And I'll also assume in this article, that your hunger for making art or creating is intrinsic. You write, film, paint or want to create a business because it's a necessity for you, not because you're in love with the idea of being recognized.
I'm not giving you a formula, but I hope that you'll feel better about yourself after having read this.
Now, let's get started, shall we?
The Question That Keeps You Awake At Night
Have you ever woken up at three in the morning and ask yourself these questions:
If you've ever asked yourself those questions, it didn't materialize in your brain out of thin air. The impulse came from someone else.
You weren't born with doubts. You learned the habit of doubting yourself through others.
Let Me Tell You A Secret, That You Already Know...
You're not alone.
I have spent those sleepless nights myself and still spend them sometimes, asking myself those questions.
But you know what?
Despite a biography that explains very clearly why I'm wired this way, I've been able to pull me out of fucked-up situations and grow further many times before, because I'm determined not to let those doubts and downers take control over my life.
You know why?
It's because giving up isn't a valuable alternative.
In the following post, I want to give you some tools to cope with that challenge.
But first, let me tell you a story...
Do You Remember What You Wanted Earlier In Life?
I guess it hasn't been only one thing.
If you've asked me what I wanted to do when I was a kid, I'd have told you that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
It's hard to believe it now because I wear jeans and T-Shirts 24/7 but back then, this was all I ever wanted. I was drawing every single day.
After that, I wanted to be a landscaper.
But as film and books became the most important thing to me as a teenager, my goals changed again.
I was three to four times a week in theatres and decided I wanted to make people feel what I felt when I was watching a movie.
I wanted to touch their hearts, wow them, and give them comfort and hope.
Yep, nothing less.
What would have been better than making films myself?
When You Give Up Halfway, Nothing Happens
So, I wrote the first 80 pages of a screenplay for a competition, that I never finished.
I cold-called local radio stations to make a proposition for a show, where I would review films of the week. All of them responded friendly, pretty intrigued, and amused to be asked by a teenager.
One radio station gave me the chance to come to them to test my voice skills in a proper studio. But after hearing what I had written about Saving Private Ryan, they didn't believe I was the author of the review,
"Next time come to us with your own stuff, all right?", they said nicely.
So because I was a sensitive mimosa at that time, and was incapable of following through, I didn't train my voice at home and never went back.
Anyway, I still was firmly decided to do whatever it takes to climb the film industry latter and become a badass film director. No matter how many coffees I'd have to serve on the way.
And here comes the fun part...
In the end, I never applied for a film school.
When (Your) Reality Punches You In The Face
Three years later, after having left my native country, I had my first experience at a film set that traumatized me.
I'll admit it: I couldn't act like myself around choleric people. The more they lost their temper, the dumber I acted.
So, after that experience, I swear to myself to never put a foot on a film set ever again.
Yep. My career as a film director was officially over. Because no matter how I still loved films, there was no way I was willing to repeat the experience.
But the truth was, I could have if I had been able to set boundaries at that time aka telling people to fuck off.
And in fact, I did participate in a film school project, years later, to make peace with the horrific experience I had.
Now, let me explain why I'm telling you this story...
There Is Something You Need To Understand...
Especially as an artist!
It's a cliché, but If you're a little gifted in something creative, there is a good chance that you're a bit extra sensitive too.
That's why you need to protect yourself from others as often as possible.
Now, I'm not telling you that you have to become a self-absorbed maniac, that doesn't care about the well-being of others.
What I'm telling you is that
you should value more what you think about yourself than what others think about you.
It might sound like an empty phrase, but if you've heard it before, and you still feel bad about yourself, when you encounter that kind of inner conflict, it means, that you've grasped it with your head and not with your heart.
If you want to feel better every time you find yourself in this situation, remember this:
Don't ever let others' opinions influence what you think about yourself. Ever.
So, how can you do it, concretely?
First, Let's Have A Chit Chat With That Roommate Living In Your Head: Your Inner Critic
"Shut up, Giselle!"
Could be a way of speaking to your inner critic.
Except it won't work,
Sorry if your name is Giselle. It's nothing personal.
Naming your inner critic and learning to be fully aware of repetitive thoughts is a technique used in psychology to stop toxic patterns.
The challenge is, that if you try to suppress it and haven't fully grasped where it comes from yet, it will get back at you like a tenacious pit bull.
Listen To Your Inner Critic
Yes, you read correctly.
Because it protected you at a crucial moment in your life.
Probably a moment, where you were too young and vulnerable to comprehend the situation.
It could have been something harmless - no parent is perfect - or something very violent.
When your inner critic told you not to try something you wanted to do in the past, it was protecting you from a withdrawal of love, consideration, and belonging.
Once you've listened to that inner voice, you have a concrete point where you can start from.
Secondly, you have to understand the following fact:
Winning Is A Number's Game
Now, what do I mean by that?
I want to begin with a quote by Julia Cameron first.
Julia Cameron is one of the earliest authors on the subject of developing creativity and one of my personal favorites.
She's the mother of the "Morning Pages."
In her book, The Artist's Way, she writes the following sentence:
"God. You take care of the quality; I'll take care of the quantity."
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Now, you don't have to be religious to understand this concept:
The more you produce, the better you'll get.
That's what comes to mind when I hear people say:
"But, I've tried everything!"
Really, Have You Tried Everything?
And please, let me make the following assumption because I've your best in mind:
Let me bother you with this famous quote attributed to Edison that has been used in probably every fucking self-help seminar on every fucking corner of this planet:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
So, please, let me officially break the news here...
When It Comes To Success, There Is No Such Thing As Luck
I can guarantee you the people you admire in your field.
The famous authors.
The famous painters and filmmakers:
In most cases, they worked their asses off to get where they are now.
And when the opportunity came, they were ready.
The bigger the dream, the bigger the "sacrifices" were.
You create your opportunities. Period.
So, Once You Know That, What Can You Do About Your Sleepless Nights?
The more you do to support your goal, the more opportunities you'll encounter. It's as simple as that.
There are no fairies that will come by and serve your goals on a silver platter.
Ok, I'll admit it. Some people were born rich. And some people were discovered eating pizza somewhere in NYC, like Natalie Portman before she performed in Leon.
But I'm pretty sure that when people "get lucky" overnight and haven't any skills to rely on, they won't last long.
Skills and growth are something amateurs always underestimate.
And I have something to share that might hurt...
If No One Pays Attention, It Might Be Because You're Not Good Enough...
That said, you can always become better.
If you want to, you'll find a way to be pretty damn good; even if you haven't had a natural predisposition for it at first. Just look at Instagram sketches from people who started from making okay-drawings to making jaw-dropping realistic art a few years later.
Life is constant growth.
Even if growth hurts sometimes, it's a good thing. If you hadn't it, you'd wake up one day and wonder why you feel dead inside.
And now, let me give you the fundamental reason why you shouldn't give up...
Because Giving Up Isn’t An Acceptable Alternative
Of course, from a logical point of view, giving up is an option.
But from a psychological one, it's not.
And spoiler right away: If you tried something and realized you don’t like it, and gave up, that’s not failing, that’s gaining clarity! Which is going to bring you closer to your goal(s).
Here is what I think:
Sometimes, the quicker you'll let go of things and people, the sooner you'll be able to "make it."
And way more importantly, you'll feel way happier.
But to quit on yourself is not an option.
And stop believing that lie unhappy people are trying to sell you that you don't want to be successful or can't be, because you're just one of those "idiots" who were told by the entertainment or advertising industry that it could be possible.
Instead, ask yourself why they're telling you this.
Be aware: even some successful people do it, because they don't want others to make it. They don't even want their children to be more successful than them.
BAM. Hard cold truth.
The thing is...
Wanting to grow is human nature.
Because hand on heart...
What's The Alternative?
Doing a job, that sucks the life out of you until you die because it's convenient for others?
Trying to accomplish something until the end of your days, and fail, is better than waiting for weekends and watch ing your life go by.
Except if you love waiting for the weekends on Mondays, I recommend you to take this matter more seriously.
I'm a firm believer: If you try and are dedicated enough, something positive will come out of it.
Now, Give Yourself A Break
I want you to stop doubting yourself.
Be self-aware, honest with yourself and others, work, if you want to achieve something (otherwise, you've not earned the right to complain), and be kind to other human beings.
If they aren't kind, don't forget to set clear boundaries.
But don't doubt yourself.
Except if you're an asshole or a psychopath, please doubt yourself every day. But you wouldn't recognize yourself, would you?
If friendly people doubt themselves all the time, it's not helping anyone else. It's making room for the assholes.
And secondly, if you doubt yourself too much, failing is going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, let me be your fairy and share this with you for now:
I wish you to sleep like a baby tonight. And every other night.