negative self talk

Real Talk

THE LONELINESS OF SOLO BUSINESS

 
Real Talk by Kitiya palaskas.jpg

As a solo business owner, there are certain parts of the job that can get a little lonely. Many nights and days are spent hunched over your computer or phone, hustling, making connections, wearing all the hats and all the while remaining the ‘effervescent and impossibly fresh’ face of your business, championing it till the cows come home. This is tiring stuff!

Having someone to bounce ideas off, splitting tasks, dividing accountability so you can bolster each other up are things I dream about. Of course there’s amazing things about going it alone – you can take things in any direction you like, whatever you make is yours and you only have yourself to rely on. But there is definitely a sense of isolation that comes with it. I’ve found that the single most important thing to remember in combating this kind of solitariness is to look after yourself. If it’s just you then you’ve only got you to worry about taking care of (besides all your clients and networks and family and friends of course!) But before all them, you come first, because if you’re not on top of your game, you have no chance of doing the same for those around you. I’ve put together a few of my go to coping mechanisms below:

  • Constant journaling: I write everything down. Whether it’s a task on my to do list, a note to myself, or a quote I like. I try to regularly (mostly it’s down to weekly unless I’m on a roll), journal about how I’m feeling, what’s happening for me and what I think about certain situations and events happening in my life. Getting it down on paper and out of my head definitely clears out a lot of the thoughts that swirl around making it hard to concentrate.

  • Talking to people: call a friend. Call your mum. Whoever it is that you can talk openly and freely about what’s going on for you, call them! Or visit. Or meet for coffee. There is something so comforting about human connection, and simply having someone that you trust hear what you’re saying, relieves you of so many burdens. Knowing you’re not alone is a very powerful thing. And I can absolutely say with confidence, you are most certainly not alone.

  • Following on from that, I think it’s important to surround yourself with trusted people that you know you can rely on for advice, help, support or just an ear to listen. Humans were supposed to belong to tribes, so it’s no wonder we thrive on having one around us. Find yours and utilise it.

  • Let yourself feel things: so often we feel an emotion arise and we’re either too busy or too embarrassed to let it just come out, in all its glory. I always try to let myself feel an emotion as it comes up. Even if it’s just for a short time, I find that if I let myself feel it, I can more quickly move through it. It also is great practice for understanding your emotions and triggers. Feel the feels.

  • The last one is to try not to be too hard on yourself. This one is, funnily enough, the hardest one for me, as I am typically extremely critical on myself. It’s in our nature to compare ourselves with others, which is totally fine to do, but when it consumes you, you can run the risk of losing yourself in the process. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I’m doing/not doing and what everyone else is doing/not doing, I take a literal step back (I stand up from my desk and step back, sounds silly but it works), and take a look at all the things I currently have and what they’re allowing me to do (what I’m grateful for having currently) and I remind myself that I am not other people, that I’m unique and they’re probably going through the very same stuff at the same time about someone else. Everyone’s just on their own ride and we’re all trying to work stuff out.

Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re doing it solo or with others, remember that you’re doing an amazing job and you’re going to be ok.


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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

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. 


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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

I FAKED MY WAY IN HERE: SOME THOUGHTS ON IMPOSTER SYNDROME

 
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Last year I got invited to speak at a BIG conference. It was the sort of event where there were maybe 2000 people in the audience and even more watching live from around the world (so no pressure or anything!) On the day, when I entered the green room to prep for my talk, I found it already full of other speakers. I knew them all by reputation already of course - they were heads of design agencies, industry game changers, and successful creative entrepreneurs that I had been fan-girling out on for ages prior to this moment.

As I introduced myself, hoping I didn't have lipstick on my teeth (which always happens to me in situations like this), I thought: "I hope I can be a successful designer too one day. I wonder what it feels like to be legit and speak at big conferences like this..." Then I remembered, DERP, I was speaking at this conference. I was here for the exact same reason as them. So how come I didn't feel as legit?

Don't get me wrong, in general I am quite comfortable with owning my talent and skills and recognising that I am a legitimate designer, but sometimes, in moments like these I can feel like I've somehow faked my way into this scenario and someone will eventually realise this and expose me for the fraud that I am. Standing there in that room, my brain started to churn with thoughts like: "Is it a mistake that I was invited?", "They're probably all wondering what I'm doing here", and  "I don't have any actual talent like these guys, I just hot glue stuff!"  I know this sounds ridiculous, but hey, imposter syndrome IS ridiculous. And yet, it's a thing! 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

According to the dictionary imposter syndrome is a term used to describe "a false and sometimes crippling belief that one's successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill". I feel you dictionary. I feel you. But where does it come from? No one at that conference was actually sitting there pointing at me being like "She faked her way in here! Get her off stage!", and yet I found myself believing it to be true in that particular moment. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? When does it manifest for you? It may not happen in every scenario, but if it does, I find it's usually at times when:

  • I'm being praised or recognised for my work or achievements

  • I win a pitch for a job with a big client

  • I achieve something or get an opportunity that's so awesome it feels too good to be true

  • I find myself in a social setting with big-name people from my industry and get asked "So, what do you do?"

  • I put something completely new and big out into the public for the first time (like starting this project for example!)

In writing this list, it's occurred to me that imposter syndrome usually doesn't come from anything anyone else thinks about us, it comes from inside ourselves. When someone gives us an amazing opportunity, a reward, or some kind of positive reinforcement and our negative self-talk happens to be too loud and overpowering in that moment, imposter syndrome kicks in as a manifestation of our self-doubt. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

I believe that identifying what imposter syndrome is,  and understanding where it comes from and when we're likely to be more susceptible to it can help to lessen it's effect on us. Recognising that it's just a by-product of our self-doubt, and that our self-doubt might be raging in this moment because we're about to do something we may be unsure of, and that these feelings are all completely normal will help to diffuse it.

One way in particular that I've personally found helps diffuse imposter syndrome-y feelings is to take a look at my portfolio of work as a whole. Whenever I'm revamping my website to add fresh work or edit out older projects, I find myself realising just how much I have actually achieved so far in my career. Looking at the body of work I have created from that zoomed-out place is a great way to gain a wonderful perspective on everything I have accomplished. I'm usually zoomed too far in on the details of things to see it like this.

In relation to this, I also feel that it's super important to make sure we celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. I think this is something that we as creative people often neglect to do, because, as I said, we can get so zoomed-in on certain details, or are already looking ahead to the next project without pausing to reflect on what we've just accomplished. We might still experience imposter syndrome at times, but in reminding ourselves regularly of our value, those fraudulent feelings might just be fleeting rather than forever. Taking time to truly acknowledge and celebrate each achievement is a great way to serve ourselves some ongoing validation that we are in fact legit, we do know our shit, and we definitely deserve to be here.


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!