Breaking through anxiety.
I wanted to try something different today, although I do enjoy posting about my own work and projects, I absolutely love writing interesting content and sharing my experiences, especially the sort of content that I would liked to have been able to find when I needed it most. I tweeted out a little poll on Twitter this morning asking whether people would like to see a post about anxiety or motivation, it ended up being tied, so I've decided to write about anxiety this week and motivation next week, thanks to those who voted! Let's get to it!
This is a pretty long one, a good excuse to grab a coffee!
I'm going to break this down into little points that help me personally and then finish the post off with an example or two of my own struggles with anxiety and something I saw recently that really gave me a kick up the a**.
It's not all bad.
I'll start this out with a bit of a positive. If you're reading this, chances are you suffer from some level of anxiety, especially creatively yourself, I think that most creatives do. What you have to remember is that you're anxious for a reason, usually backed up by good intentions. What I mean by that is, you're anxious because you want to become a better person and you know that you can be better, you want to become the best version of yourself that you can be. It's essential to recognise that this already is a huge positive, because you are already on your way to becoming a better person whether you noticed it or not, that's already a big win, some people live their lives the same way day in, day out, see this sort of awareness as a basis to build yourself up from.
You're still young.
This is so, so easy to forget about living in this day and age where everything and everyone revolves around the internet. I'd say probably my biggest struggle in life is that I constantly feel like I'm not where I should be or that I haven't done enough for my age, which in turn makes me feel down and I have no motivation to do anything, so end up doing nothing, it's such a vicious cycle! The truth is though, we're all still so young and have so much of our lives left, there are creatives still producing amazing work in their 70s and 80s, if not even older, we have so much of our lives ahead of us and it's crucial to make the most of it and take action, as long as you're working towards your goals, that's the important thing, inaction is the worst. The biggest factor is always the internet for me, seeing other people post photos of their own lives and successes, which then makes me feel guilty and like I'm not good enough. Which leads me onto the next point...
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Instagram, and it's definitely not the only social media platform that affects me like this, but it is by far the worst because it is so visual. I've spoke about this quite a few times before, but I will say it again, it is so, so easy to get wrapped up in how amazing everyone's life is on Instagram, but you have to remember, it's all edited, and you only get to see the good stuff. If you read any honest interview with any creative they will always say how much they struggle and how they only post the good times on social media. Not only that, but it is literally a tiny square photo window into someones life, you don't know what's going on even a metre to the left of that photo. I've seen quite a few funny photos from honest bloggers over the past month or so where they've taken an amazing photo of some products on this lovely fur rug, and then showed a zoomed out photo where it's actually just products laid out on the back of their fluffy cat....
There is a saying that I try and come back to when I get too caught up in other people's lives and that is 'Comparison is the thief of joy', so true. I used to wake up in a morning, scroll through instagram and then instantly not feel any motivation for the day because all I was doing was wondering why I didn't have a nice house, why I didn't have 3 computers, 2 Cintiqs and a million followers on Youtube, that was it, day ruined. But it's so ridiculous that we let our minds work like that when you think about it, we all of a sudden forget that that person has worked their a** off for 5 years and hardly seen their family, or that they're 60 years old and have been working for Disney for 40 years, or that they started making Youtube videos in their bedroom when they were 16 with nothing but a laptop and a webcam. Always focus on the big picture, and understand that there is a huge pile of failures, breakdowns and reinvention behind every inspiring instagram photo.
Think about what you truly want.
A lot of the time when we're comparing ourselves to others and how we really wish we had their lives, we don't think about what WE actually want. When you're comparing yourself to others, take a step back, and place yourself in that person's shoes. I often get down about my clothing brand and look at others thinking, why aren't I shipping thousands of orders a month with a team of employees working for me? Then I think about it for a while and realise, I don't even want that!, I want to keep it small and be able to have a personal connection with my customers. Same goes for other artists, I get jealous of their success and then think, but I don't want to be drawing what they're drawing or working for clients that they are so why does it even matter? Figure out what YOU want, and focus on taking the steps to get there.
Focus on yourself.
I mean this in a few different ways, first of all it's important to get the negative voices out of your head, and focus on the positive, I know that this is hard but it really does help, try starting a gratitude diary. You can easily look up how to do this on the internet and I do mine on my phone, sometimes it's a simple as being grateful for a cup of tea in the morning that can kickstart your day on the right foot.
Your happiness is what matters, if you're happy with what you've got and who you are, you'll feel better for it and achieve more in the long run. At the end of the day, the whole reason all of these other people are achieving their dreams is because they are doing the exact opposite of what some of us are doing, they're focusing on themselves and not on the people who have achieved more than them. I'm struggling with that myself today because I feel like maybe I'm not experienced enough to write this post, even though I really want to share how I feel, maybe I won't be taken seriously, and I keep thinking about just scrapping it, but if I keep thinking like that, I'll never post anything and I never will get anywhere or be taken seriously, if you've got an idea, believe in it no matter what, especially if the process of creating it makes you happy. You've just got to think f*** everyone else! Sorry for the F bomb but there is really no other way to say it, because if you don't all you'll end up with is regret and possibly no time to change it.
This video absolutely changed my life.
I watch a lot of Gary Vee's stuff, some people hate him, some love him, and relevant to this post, he just does not care. So here's one of his latest videos I came across, which just made something click in my head and think, why do I keep making excuses and expect a quick success from not enough work? It's not that I don't want to work, I love what I do but it can be hard when you don't get any return for a while, but I'll save that for another post because I recently watched another video which made me realise that it's all about the journey, I know it's cliche, but I think it'll be easier to understand when I write that post and link the video. Anyway, here's Gary's video....
I watched this and it first thought, whoa he's being a little harsh, but by the end I thought 'He is absolutely spot on'. If you watch any of Gary's content you'll see that he never stops, but he shows everything, so as soon as someone says to him 'That's easy for you to say, you've got so much money and so much success', it's easy for him to not even pay one bit of attention because everyone who watches his content knows that he works 17 hours a day and has constantly worked straight out of school.
My own current anxiety struggles.
As some of you may know, I run my own clothing brand; Monster Trunk Collectables . Some of you may not know this because I don't really post about it much, and haven't posted anything for the last 2 months. You know why? Because I feel like I'm constantly failing, I don't at all think that the brand is a failure, I'm very confident in the concept of Monster Trunk and stand by all of my products. But again, my brain keeps running with things and I start to think stuff like What am I even doing? What shall I post next? Why haven't I sold anything for a month? But my answer is right there all along! I'm focusing so much on stupid things that I end up doing nothing at all! It's absolutely crazy.
I have however this month, decided that all of those thoughts are absolutely ridiculous and all they're doing is stopping me from doing what I really wanted in the first place. That's the main problem with the world being how it is these days, it's so easy to lose sight of why you started something in the first place and get caught up in the race to be the most popular, even though my intentions for Monster Trunk have always been to keep it small, build a loyal following and have a great relationship with my customers and become more of a family of people with the same attitude towards life. So from this month, I'll be working hard to build Monster Trunk up to the brand I originally envisioned, and most of all, to just have fun with it again! I had some of the most fun times ever just sitting at my desk, printing make shift packaging and sewing labels into tshirts 5 times because I could never seem to get it right!
I will say right now that I've nearly scrapped this post at least 3 times, made about 10 excuses why I shouldn't write it, gone for a walk, sprayed some plant pots, made a ton of coffee and checked social media every 5 mins whilst writing this post because I've been so anxious about posting it, ironic eh?! However I thought it was important to share this as real life experiences are always the most relatable, and as I often say in my posts, if I can help even one person then I'm happy!
It's important to remember that I am my own person with my own opinions and the most crucial thing you can do if you're suffering from anything like this is to remember that everyone is different, and different things work for all of us. I choose not to turn to medication and can usually focus on changing the way I think, however, if it ever got to the point where I couldn't control it anymore I would have therapy and would recommend the same for others. If anyone does feel like this has resonated with them and would like a mort in depth discussion about it I'm more than happy to have anyone email me for a little chat! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone who would like to!
I know this was a long post, so thank you to those who read all of it, I know that this doesn't even nearly cover everything but hopefully you got something from it, remember to check back next week for a post about kick starting your motivation again!