Maybe I’m alone in this. Maybe I’m the only creative who flips through amazing Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards, Facebook pages, magazine covers, blog features, etc. and instead of feeling inspired or motivated – I sometimes find myself feeling entirely defeated. My mind spirals and all of a sudden it’s filled with only the negative. Or maybe, maybe I’m not alone at all. Maybe you too have found yourself comparing your art, your work, your business and yourself to others. It can be damaging. Instead of facing the future with our whole heart, we suddenly doubt the direction we’ve chosen. It stops us in our tracks, steps on our creativity and just hurts. A lot.
Last fall I was having MANY moments such as this. I felt like I was at a cross roads. I was fed up with bumming myself out and was pretty close to throwing my hands in the air. Giving up. (It’s the drama queen in me).
This happened to be around the same time that Deryk stumbled upon 15 boxes I’d hidden from our move a year prior. We’ve moved 7 times in 5 years. I started to dig in one box at a time. The moment I opened the first one, my heart sank (in a good way). It was filled with photos my Mom had handed down to me. I sat there for 3 hours flipping through images of myself at all different ages, surrounded by my parents, my brother, lost grandparents, my wonderful extended family and great friends. I was in awe at all the love. Something clicked. This collection of emotional and beautiful moments I was holding in my hands – it was the why behind my love for photography. I’m not doing what I’m doing to get more followers, more likes, pins or page visits. So why am I comparing myself? Why am I letting the negative creep in?
I realized there was no option to give up. I needed to try. I needed to make changes and create my own positive vibes. I put together a game plan of how I’d escape future self-doubt and remain inspired to keep learning, growing and being me. Here’s the lil’ list that time and time again has saved me from being stuck in a rut…
Reach out – The creative community is such an incredibly welcoming place. I used to feel kind of silly contacting other photographers and business owners for advice. I thought I was just being a major pest. So, soooo wrong. Instead of allowing myself to sit and dwell in my discouragement, I started to reach out to creatives I admire. Instead of looking at their success as something I didn’t have, I chose to connect with and learn from them.
Welcome change – Change prompts challenge, and challenges are where we grow. When I reach a place where I feel stuck – I just feel BLAH… so I change it up! I plan something new and something I know will put me well outside my comfort zone. I’ll take on a styled shoot, sign up as a speaker for a local organization, etc. Whatever the new project is – I welcome it, embrace it, and let my attention go there.
Unplug & recharge– Put the phone, the computer, the everything related to social media DOWN. Pick up a paint brush, a sketchpad, a gardening tool, take on a home decor project – ANYTHING. Just take a break. Let your mind reconnect with other parts of who you are as a creative. Be vulnerable to this time away from it all.
Intentionally surround yourself with positive peeps –This is a huge one for me. I moved to Vermont in the fall of 2014 with 2 friends – Lacey Jane (my maltese) and Jacko Bambeano (my rhodesian ridgeback). I quickly learned that although I loved my pups, I was lonely.
Although I appear pretty comfortable in social situations, I actually can be a serious homebody with introvert tendencies. It was time to get over that and just jump in. And thank goodness I did because I’m now so happy to be surrounded by other creative entrepreneurs going through similar challenges as I am. Being able to sit and chat through our battles, bouncing ideas off one another and receiving useful feedback – it’s been a game changer that I’m so very grateful for. These strong friendships have been so uplifting in times of self-doubt and have pushed me to continue pursuing my passion.
Create a strong offense – Take note of what throws off your confidence, and then be prepared for it next time. Go in with a different mindset. When I’m about to admire an unbelievably gorgeous wedding that I dream of photographing, I prepare myself to look at it in a different light. I take the opportunity to learn from it, rather than just sit and compare myself to it. This flip flop in thinking will ignite a fire in you to grow.