Sometimes you just have to quietly work on yourself for a while...
I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to write a more personal blog post for a change, it's still going to cover some creative elements, but now that we are into a new year I just wanted to talk about 2017 as a whole and what I achieved as it was definitely a weird one....
Anyone who knows me personally will know that I had a really bad first 6 months last year, I'm not going to go into what happened but I was easily at the lowest point I've ever been in in my life, for various reasons, and I wasn't sure I was ever going to get out of it. I think when you get to the lowest points in your life, you need to realise what went wrong and why, so even though it wasn't my doing, I knew that the reason I was so low was because I'm the sort of person that always gives too much of myself to everyone else, which leaves me no time for myself. However sometimes in life you need something really harsh to happen to make you realise that life is too short, and the main person you should be looking after and making happy is yourself.
So that's what I focused on for the second half of 2017, and I think anyone who isn't feeling happy in general should do the same, because the saying 'the only person who can make you happy is yourself' couldn't be more true. A lot of people try to fill voids in their life with something that they think will make them feel better, something or someone else they can focus their attention on so that they don't have to tackle what's really bothering them about themselves.
HERE'S SOME OF THE THINGS I WORKED ON IN 2017
I knew I wanted to take it slow, I wanted to take my time to really clear my head, think about what I really want in life and not put too much pressure on myself when I was having a bad day, I knew it wasn't going to be a quick fix, but I was okay with that. I wanted to only work on projects I really wanted to do, I wanted to be paid well for those projects, I wanted to get healthier and also more than anything I wanted to focus on my mindset, staying positive and controlling my thoughts and reactions to situations around me. So here's some of the things I achieved last year...
- I FINALLY joined a gym and go regularly and consistently.
- I live quite far from all of my close friends, but I make it a goal to try and see each one of my best friends at least once a month.
- Only the people who know me personally will know this, but I actually quit my job and have been freelance full time for exactly 7 months to this day.
- I got to work with one of my favourite Twitch streamers/Overwatch players (Valkia) who has now also got my art on his wall.
- I also got to work with another well established Twitch streamer, but the project has only just been completed so more to come on that soon!
- I obviously also got to work on numerous other projects including more children's books, Youtube channels, website graphics, animations, t-shirt designs, card games, video games etc.
- I saved up enough money to invest in an iPad Pro, Apple pencil and a new Mac setup, which has made a MASSIVE difference to my work flow.
- Created my first ever environment illustration.
- I took part in every day of Inktober.
- I saved up enough money to go on two holidays (this was big for me considering I no longer had a regular income from an employer!).
- I personally think I created some of the best work I've ever done.
- Overall I created well over 100+ new, finished illustrations.
- I got to see one of my best friends get married to the love of her life who is also a really great friend.
MY ADVICE TO MYSELF & ANYONE ELSE WHO IS STRUGGLING
I think the most important thing is really take some time out to reflect, it can be hard, especially when you're self employed and rely heavily on an online presence, but it's critical to take some time for yourself and really remove yourself from social media for a while, I know it's hard to believe but people disappear from social media all of the time for some self reflection, no one will forget about you!
Think about what you want, what you want to do and also think about what truly makes you happy, it's essential to take time to focus on what you NEED, rather than what you think you WANT. Sometimes it can be the scariest thing to be in your own head, but there's plenty of articles out there that teach you how to control your thoughts efficiently so that it can also be the most rewarding thing to do.
I'm still in the middle of setting some goals for 2018 as January is looking like a busy month for client work, so next week I'll aim to write a blog post detailing my goals, why I chose them and how I'm going to aim to achieve them.
One thing I really do want to do though, is to improve specific skill sets and to also practice more with having fun in my work and not pressuring myself to create something that's absolutely amazing and instead just have fun in the process. So last week I picked up a paintbrush and ink for the first time in about 5 years (I actually used to paint all the time with coffee funnily enough before I got into digital art) and painted a fan art piece of the new Blackhand Doomfist skin for Overwatch.
It's far from a masterpiece but I like how messy and rough it looks, plus it was super fun to do!
If anyone does feel in a bad place and needs someone to talk to, I've been there, and my emails are definitely open for anyone who needs it!
Here's to making 2018 the best year yet!