Let’s start at the beginning. Long before you decided to get into a creative industry, at some point you discovered that you were good at it. Something just clicked and it made sense to you. You enjoyed it. Sometimes you’d even get excited about it. And if you were lucky, the people around you would encourage you to keep at it. There was no doubt about it: you were headed into the business of being creative.
Doubt creeps in
Somewhere along the way from point A to point B you encountered something that made you doubt yourself. What that is varies from person to person. But most of us know what it feels like. We change from being happy and excited about what we’re working on, to thinking we’ve made a mistake. As creatives, we sometimes feel a little vulnerable about what we produce. Although we are working for our clients, our work speaks partly about who we are as people. And it can be hard not to take criticism personally.
Self-doubt is any creative’s worst enemy
What happens when you don’t have confidence in your ability? Well, it makes it very hard to be creative. A lack of confidence can actually be creatively crippling. Any idea you may have is inevitably thwarted before it can be realized because you don’t think it’s good enough. That’s only if you actually get any ideas. More often than not, if you don’t feel confident, ideas just don’t happen. Some refer to it as being “blocked”. Unfortunately for any creative, we really can’t afford be blocked.
It’s okay to question yourself
Let’s face it: the creative industry is a competitive one. So you’d be right to question your ability from time to time. I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t question it occasionally, you wouldn’t fully realize what you’re capable of. For instance, sometimes questioning what you can do leads to improving your skills or taking the time to learn about a new subject. It’s actually a good thing.
Don’t compare yourself to others
The problem comes when you question yourself in a detrimental way. One of the biggest ways to do that is by comparing your work to the work of others. This never ends well. It’s okay to be inspired by others and let that inspiration guide your work. But comparing the value of your ideas against the ideas of others is not only detrimental, it’s inaccurate. Everyone is different. Each of us experiences the world and thinks in a different way. That’s what makes being creative so exciting in the first place. By thinking that someone else’s idea is better than what you would have thought of, you’re actually making the assumption that everyone thinks the same way.
Validation builds confidence
Creativity needs to be nurtured. As creatives seeking confidence, we also require validation. Referring back to the beginning, we need acknowledgement from the people around us to encourage us to keep at it – no matter how long we’ve been doing it – whether it comes from those in our personal lives, our peers or our superiors. Ultimately, everyone needs a second nomination. Lastly, and the most important thing, is self-validation. Because no matter how anyone else views you, if you don’t believe it for yourself, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.