3 Lessons From Our Creative Careers
If we logged in to any social platform at a certain point in pop culture time, “girlboss”-ing was all the rage. It was capitalism in the guise of feminism, coated in milennial pink and marketed as a way to rail against the patriarchy. And while we love kinship, something felt off about that era for us. Don’t get us wrong, we subscribed to that hustle hard mentality for a bit. We worked our butts off taking advantage of every opportunity to create and making sure those opportunities were a good fit. We dreamt about being our own boss and making our own rules. The thing is, we wore ourselves out before hitting 30. We kept trying to achieve dreams in a way that may not have been right for us to begin with.
We had to force ourselves to step back and reevaluate our path before that burnout became a permanent case of flameout. We recognized that we liked the structure of a 9-to-5 as it allowed us to work on our own passions without the added pressure of trying to live off of it. We still work hard, but we make space for fun and rest as well. We also never stopped talking about our favorite makers at every opportunity. While girlboss culture wasn’t for us, we couldn’t escape hearing the same recycled advice no matter where we turned.
It was then we dug deep and realized lessons we learned throughout life, applied to our careers too.
So, on the other side of things, here are 3 lessons from our creative career
1. Not Every Path is Linear
It’s ok if your journey takes on a nebulous shape. Every opportunity is a chance to grow. And to embrace learning (regardless of form it comes in) inspires the most growth. We were one-track minded for a very long time. Clear steps helped us navigate through confusion and feeling undervalued. “I want to be a Senior Designer. I can’t be a Senior Designer until I do a, b, c in that specific order” But when we did that, we still didn’t get to the next step. So we took on other projects that were not related to the list of qualifications we put together. We started teaching and created a side hustle and eventually we were presented with roles that we were ready for. Roles we could fill with confidence because of the lessons we learned from the additional projects we took on. Teaching taught us patience, how to communicate, and how to lead. Our side hustle taught us about time management and delegation. This, in combination with what we learned during our 9 to 5, made us better prepared for the more advanced roles that came our way.
2. Our Community is Out There
For us, community members don’t have to be consistently present, but it’s important that they are supportive. Surround yourself with people who love to see you win! They don’t all have to be makers. You don’t have to interact with them all the time. They can be your sounding board for when you need to talk through ideas for a new project. Or are seeking advice on where to find a great CPA. Don’t just take, either. Give back too! Exchange information! Celebrate each other! Share resources! Don’t know where to find your people? Start by genuinely complimenting the work of your favorite creative.
3. Schedule Rest
As people who still are learning how to not equate productivity with success or tie success to being ambitious, we share the following—just because you take breaks, doesn’t make you less ambitious. Taking time away from your work to relax prevents burnout. Your project will still be there after that 30 minute nap. Also, scheduling your rest gives you a greater chance of actually doing it. Think about how many meals you’ve skipped because time got away from you. If you put it in a calendar with an alarm, you’re less likely to forget to step away. A relaxed brain helps you come up with solutions to roadblocks faster. Wins all around!
For more tips, check out our podcast TCTLE Office Hours, where our founder, Deepa Shanbhag, provides career advice for makers of all kinds.