Battling The Fear of Failing as a Freelance Illustrator

Something I’ve been struggling with for the last year or so is the fear of failing, and probably more so my self confidence. For a while now I’ve had a real feeling of being stuck, and every time I’ve tried to figure out how to get out of it, I’ve gotten so far and then gone into a downward spiral all over again. I’ve only recently properly analysed what I’m feeling and why I seem to stop, instead of carrying on moving forward and it dawned on me that the main thing stopping me, is me not believing in myself.

When I first started out in my freelance career it was all very new and exciting and I honestly didn’t have a care in the world about what people thought about my work, I knew who I wanted to work for, what kind of work I wanted to create and in my head there was nothing that could get in my way, even though my work wasn’t anywhere near good enough, I knew it would be one day. These days it’s the complete opposite, I have so many ideas and things I want to do in my career, that I first of all can’t decide which to put most of my focus into, and secondly I shoot myself down every time, before I even get started.

So for example I would really like to get more into the games industry and work on some more indie games along with eventually working on some AAA games, but you can guarantee I don’t apply for anything because I don’t think I’m talented or experienced enough, even though with enough practice I know that I will become better, and all of the information is out there for me to learn what I need to know. I also want to put out more content, do more live streams and more tutorials etc. but I feel like people aren’t going to be interested, or more than likely that I’m not experienced enough to be giving out that kind of information (even though my followers have expressed wanting to learn from me).

It’s a drawn out and frustrating feeling which lately I’ve felt like I’m never going to get out of, and it has at points, seriously made me consider giving up on a creative career completely. However at the same time, I’m now trying to see it as a positive, because the only reason I, or any other person feels this way sometimes is because it’s your brain or your body showing you that there’s something wrong that needs to change. I think I’ve found it quite hard to make that change because I wasn’t sure what needed changing, but after paying close attention to how I’m feeling and why, and then being able to notice that the issue is my self confidence, I feel like I’m now in a position to know what needs changing, make mistakes along the way, and learn from it. It’s also very easy these days to get trapped into the whole social media spiral of being overwhelmed by others success and their output, but as we know not everything is as it seems and not everyone is in the same situation or has the same circumstances, something which is very easy to forget. When you’re not feeling too great however it’s always easier to focus on others rather than your own life which can make things so much worse. Maybe it’s worth looking back on your own work and appreciating your own successes for a change?

If you’re struggling with self confidence or the feel of failure like me, especially if you’re trying to push your work further or move in a new direction, then it’s probably worth making a lot of notes and paying close attention to what you’re feeling, when and why. Make notes on what you actually want to do in your career, what your ideal future looks like, what kind of work you’d like to create, what some of your favourite pieces that you’ve created are, what you want to become known for, what kind of business you want to have and what’s stopping you from reaching any of these goals etc.

It really helps to write things down, to get them out of your head and to have to refer back to. Even just writing this blog post and having a bit of a brain dump has helped me to understand my own thoughts a bit better and know that even though how I feel is completely valid, that it’s also a bit daft and since the time of me starting and feeling unstoppable, nothing’s changed apart from my perception of myself and what I can achieve. So it’s time for me to change that and do all the things I want to do without worrying about the results, it’s time to just have fun again!

If anyone is struggling with this and needs a quick chat or some advice feel free to reach out over email or social media!