inadequacy

Real Talk

DAY JOB CONFESSIONAL

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

This article has been brewing for a long time, but I have hesitated to post it until now because I'm still trying to process how I feel about this little secret that I want to share with you. Although I have hinted at it a few times over on my personal Instagram, spoken about it at conferences, and been honest whenever someone has asked, the whole time I've still felt a secret shame about it that I can't admit to. At times this thing has made me feel invalid, less-than and like an imposter. But it has also made me feel gratitude, relief and freedom. I feel like I'm at a weird AA meeting when I say this but, I'm a successful craft-based designer, and I have a day job. 

I don't know when or how this crept into my head, but somewhere along the line I formed a belief that to be successful in your career you had to do it full time. Anything else didn't count, or was proof that you were doing it wrong. I will be the first to vehemently tell anyone that this way of thinking is unhealthy, outdated, and just plain disrespectful to all the wonderful and talented people out there working so hard and kicking goals with multiple income streams. But despite trying to do my part to shift this perception for others, I still find it hard to believe for myself.  

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Throughout my career so far I have experienced life as a full-time designer, as well as life with a day job. I have worked many different kinds of day jobs, some creative, and some that were so completely not creative and so completely not me that once when my friend visited me at work she would not believe me when I showed her my desk because it was 100% void of anything to do with my personality whatsoever. (I was working as a Policy Analyst. Needless to say, I quit soon after). Both of these lifestyles have had their pros and cons. I think there's a perception that being a full time creative person is as good as it could ever get, but as rewarding and fun as it can be, it can also be fucking hard and pretty unglamorous too. Then there's the perception that day jobs mean you haven't quite 'made it' yet. From personal experience I have to disagree. I have done some of the best work of my career while having a day job.


“I've done some of the best work of my career while having a day job”


At the end of 2016, after a mix of of growing my business alongside part-time day jobs and experiencing stints of full-time freelance design, I decided it was time to devote 100% of my efforts to being a craft-based designer forever. I hadn't been full-time freelance since moving to Melbourne and although what I was offering had always been quite niche, I'd been in Melbourne for 4 years and I felt I'd built up enough of a client base that I could take the leap. I decided I would give myself a year of truly trying to make it work, putting in 100% effort and pulling out all the stops to do this craft-based design thing full time. The year started strong. Among other exciting projects I published a book, which has without a doubt been #1 on my bucket list since I was 12 years old. I had some really exciting stuff going on, and I was feeling great, but then, the work dried up. As I hustled for new jobs, feeling more and more disheartened, I wondered if it was changes in design trends causing this drought, or maybe the financial climate, my elaborate marketing schemes falling on deaf ears...or perhaps my greatest fear of all - that I was offering something SO niche that it couldn't ever amount to a full-time career and that I had been working my ass off for 7 years for a goal that was always going to be unachievable. 

Well, whatever it was, jobs were VERY few and far between for a long while, and it was a really stressful time. Like, REALLY stressful. Not only was I feeling the pressure financially, the stress killed my creativity and I couldn't make any new work, which as you may know is one of the worst things for a creative person to experience. I couldn't attract new opportunities if I wasn't actively making work, but not having any opportunities was making me stressed. The stress was killing creativity, which meant I couldn't make new work, to get new jobs... and on it went. It was the worst cycle ever! Eventually I reached a breaking point, bit the bullet and got a day job. I hated doing it. I felt demoralised and upset with myself that I had failed to achieve my goal that year of going full-time freelance. I felt like I was taking a step backwards. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

But then I got my first pay check and those feelings miraculously melted away. All of a sudden I wasn't worrying about money, and found my creativity coming back as the stress decreased. I started making new work again, and subsequently new opportunities started presenting themselves. Spending time at my day job also gave me the space away from endless thoughts and worries about my business. I didn't realise it prior to this but I desperately needed a break from my thoughts. Focusing on something that had nothing to do with my creativity was a much needed relief. My day job kinda saved my career. 

I don't think this experience would have been anywhere near as shit if that horrible perception I spoke about earlier hadn't been festering in my head the whole time. I don't doubt it still would have been stressful, but I know that without the perception of 'full-time creativity = success' I would have saved myself a lot of personal anguish, negative self talk, and feelings of failure at a time when I really needed to  maintain a positive outlook so I could be proactive and motivated to improve my situation. Thoughts can be so powerful, and if a negative one slips in there at the right place and right time, it can have a long lasting and devastating effect. That's why it makes me so sad when I hear others tell me they're ashamed of their day job and they want to keep it a secret, or that they think less of themselves because they have one. What is so shameful about working hard? Being resourceful? Balancing two workloads and multiple commitments at once? Or doing whatever you have to do to make sure you have money coming in so you can live, while also being your best creative self? Absolutely nothing! In fact, if you are doing all of these things then you are a bloody champion in my eyes. And why do we have to call it a day job anyway? Isn't it simply just another job? All jobs are jobs, no matter if they are creative or not. Also, and this is important: having or not having a day job does not in any way relate to creative success. You have the ability to be creative and achieve amazing things with a day job, as well as without.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of that. I need to constantly remind myself of that. 


“Having or not having a day job does not in any way relate to creative success.”


Look, I'm gonna be honest, sometimes my day job crushes my soul, but being  a full-time designer can too. Sometimes day jobs make me feel like a total pleb, but during other times when freelance opportunities are few, or when I'm going through creative block or feeling uninspired, I feel so lucky and relieved that there is still money coming in every fortnight and that my creativity doesn't have to equate to financial success. Sometimes (most of the time) having a day job makes me work 5 times as hard at my true passion - my design career - which in turn leads to more creative opportunities, and more creative fulfilment. Sometimes creativity strikes when I'm at my day job and I'm trapped at my desk unable to do anything about it,  but other times being there is like a sweet slice of relief from the stress of running my own business. Mostly my day job relieves the pressure of the constant hustle, something I can easily get fatigued by. It opens up precious space in my brain for new ideas to flow and allows me to simply just be creative.

This is probably the greatest gift of all. 


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SUCCESS

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

The effects of social media on our creative wellbeing is a topic I could honestly rant about for days, because I have a real love/hate relationship with social media. While I can't deny it's been instrumental to me for brand exposure and has helped me book a lot of jobs, it's also fuelled so many of my creativity-based mental struggles over the years. I'm sure many of you can relate! Social media seems to play a big part in a lot of wellbeing issues actually, so for this reason we'll undoubtedly talk about it again in future themes, but today I wanted to write about social media in the context of how using it can affect our views on success. 

Using social media to gauge success in any way can be problematic at best. For starters, reality is questionable on social media. Is what we're really seeing or reading an accurate depiction of real life? Also, we choose what to share and when. You might come across a feed with hardly anything in it, does that mean that person is less successful than someone with hundreds of posts? They could just be choosing not to share all of their achievements online, all the time. And if you don't use social media at all? If success is defined by what you share and you don't share anything, does that mean you suck? And what about interaction? We know that having a lot of likes and comments can help propel the success of your brand, but with algorithms controlling a lot of social media content these days, can we really measure the success of a brand accurately based on interactions? Like I said, it's problematic. 

When machines define success
So, algorithms. We know they play a big part in how our audiences are seeing and interacting with the content we share on social media. This is an accepted fact. I hear so many creative people stressing about how algorithm changes are affecting their ability attract customers and clients. I have definitely noticed this myself as well, and sometimes when I'm thinking about it, my thoughts spiral out of control and I wonder whether it's actually not the algorithm at all. Maybe people just don't like me anymore? Then I feel really shit and  have to snap out of it because this kind of thinking is NOT productive! We seem to spend an insane amount of time measuring our success on likes, and it seems that less likes = less successful. We know algorithms control likes now, and an algorithm is controlled by a machine. So, are we letting a machine dictate the way we feel about our own success?!  Guys, that's f*cked up! But seriously, laying it all out like that kind of gives some perspective on the whole thing doesn't it? If we can realise just how ridiculous the concept is, maybe we'll attach less importance to likes and other similar interactions. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't define you, it's just a heart on a screen.

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Dealing with 'unreality'
You can't scroll far on social media without coming across some kind of unrealistic portrayal of perfection, success or happiness. We all know this phenomenon exists and we've all bought into it to some extent.  I mean, if i had to choose between sharing a picture of me looking fresh and fancy on my way to da club, or my hangover photo from the next morning, we all know I'm opting for fresh and fancy because nobody wants to see me hungover (trust me). We buy into this when we double tap on (or post) photos of impossibly tidy studios, immaculately styled Work In Progress shots, and beautiful hero images of new projects. And why not? In a lot of ways, social media is an extension of your portfolio, and a legitimate place to attract potential clients, so of course you're going to want it to appear at its best. I don't think there's anything wrong with portraying your brand in its best light on social media, or for that matter wanting to look at something pretty rather than something hungover (because there's enough of that in the mirror thank you very much!). It's how you choose to process this content that matters. 

I know that seeing all this perfect stuff on the regular can make us feel inadequate, like we're lacking in some way because our lives don't look like what we see online. This is where the problem occurs - when you start believing that this is what people's lives look like all the time, and that the story stops at the point of posting, at that point of perceived perfection and success. But let's tell it like it is, no one's life looks like this all the time! Repeat this to yourself until it sticks! I can guarantee that just out of shot lurks the studio rubbish bin that hasn't been emptied for 3 months, the 5 other WIPs composed mainly of stick figures, the fuglier version of the hero shot before Photoshop, and any number of other things that were too real to make the cut. If you can take what you see with a grain of salt,  it might lessen those feelings of inadequacy and let you enjoy social media for what it really is, a curation.

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Comparison kills creativity
Comparison is an evil offshoot of inadequacy. When faced with an endless scroll of everyone's achievements and accolades it's easy to fall into the comparison trap. This is a really hard one because once you start comparing yourself to someone else it can be really difficult to shake it off. Comparison can also be a total creativity killer. It's hard to produce work you love when you're pre-occupied with comparing it to everyone else's. And not producing work you love will probably make you feel more shit, am I right? This all sounds pretty bleak TBH, so how can we combat this? This is the point where I'll repeat the life lesson I shared in our first article this month: SUCCESS IS RELATIVE!  Stop scrolling, seriously mate stop, breathe, and spend a few minutes reminding yourself of your own incredible achievements. Remember that everyone's creative path is different and that something amazing that someone else just posted has no bearing whatsoever on how successful YOU are. 

Image:    Giphy

Image: Giphy


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!