A few weeks back, one of my closest friends was experiencing a slump. Pretty similar to the ones I experience a few times a month. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re creatives, or black women, or humans, but her and I, in particular, go to each other quite often to vent during these times.
However, I know for a fact that we’re not alone in the thoughts and feelings that consume us when the negativity wave comes crashes down. That is, even though we feel alone when we’re in the midst of it. Attending events like the Brown Girl Brunch generously provides timely reminders that we’re not, so I thought I’d share some key pain points that were poking at her when I asked her what brought on the feelings she was having — based on the verbatim list she wrote back:
One of the most helpful quotes I always try to keep at the forefront of my mind when it comes to comparing myself is that “comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s so true and I think it’s a foundational reason why we, especially creatives, experience feelings of self-doubt when it comes to our work. I say “foundational” because comparing yourself to others has a domino effect on you. The domino set up is you seeing someone else’s amazing work. The dominoes falling is what happens when you begin comparing your work to that person’s work; “wow, her work is amazing.” “omg she’s only 22?” “how did she get to that level of talent already?” Ugh, I need to work harder…” and the dominoes keep falling like that. If you give in to all of these feelings that come from comparing yourself to others, you’re going to end up drowning (like if the last domino in the trail falls into the bottom of the ocean and a big rock falls on it, gets stuck in the sand, and fossilizes for centuries).
On the other hand, you could acknowledge your feelings (falling dominos) but then shift your mindset away from them (like having the last domino in the trail fall into a bag of money, lol).
What I’m getting at is, those kinds of feelings are normal, so when they come, acknowledge and embrace them because they’re part of you being a human. THEN shift away and consider how far you have come — which is more than likely light-years farther than what society deems you should be if you’ve been putting in the work.
“NOT DOING ENOUGH”
This according to who? Society? The artist you compared yourself too? What is “enough” anyway?
How much you “should be doing” and where you deem you “should be” at your is, to me fueled merely by what “society” has deemed as “enough.” When in reality, “doing enough” doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you can do, and what you’re willing to do. Feel like you should be doing more? Then DO MORE, but let it be at your own pace. Steer clear of letting societal pressures or other people put a time stamp on how much you should or shouldn’t be doing. Yes, use your time wisely, yes, practice self-discipline, yes push yourself as much as you can, but do it all while knowing that YOU HAVE TIME. As Myleik Teele always says, treat life like a marathon, not a sprint.
“NOT FEELING ACCOMPLISHED IN KNOWING WHAT I WANT”
Behold the “I have to know what I want and be getting it by the time I’m 25” plague. Usually, when I feel this way, it’s because people are pressuring me by, again, putting their time stamps on my life. When will you get married? You’re still doing this or that? You’re getting close to the time to have kids. Are you planning on buying a house?
Don’t get me started on how these “life milestones” are merely social constructs society deems to be THE appropriate steps one should take in order to lead a “successful” life. Success (another social construct, if you ask me) is highly relative. Move about life in a way that best suits what brings you joy, and contentment, and happiness, I suppose. Just remember that happiness is wavering. Do what you have to do to survive, and live life while you’re at it.
WHAT MY NEXT “BIG STEP” IS
The pressure to always know what your next big step is can be counterproductive. Keeping your foot on the gas toward the next big step is almost like going too fast in heavy-ish traffic and not having time to stop before you hit someone’s bumper. Try to take the time you need after big accomplishments to celebrate your work, rest, and appreciate the opportunities you’ve had. Doing so clears your head and gets you prepped and ready to figure out and tackle whatever your next big step may be. Know that it’s ok to not know what that is, and know that it takes time to figure it out.
TRYING TO REFOCUS AND GET A GRIP OF WHAT I HAVE GOING ON NOW AND BEING CONFIDENT IN THAT
This point sort of ties into the previous one. It’s difficult to refocus energy when the direction your headed isn’t working for you. This is especially true when you’re always going going going, and while you’re at it, comparing yourself to everyone along the way. Don’t lose yourself trying to always have everything figured out. You have time. When you’re rested and not bogged down by feeling like you HAVE to know what’s next, it’s easier to feel confident when you do get a grip on next moves.
What are some things that have been weighing on your mind? Are the along the same lines as what my friend was experiencing? Let’s chat in the comments, shall we?
Re: the lewk.
Pretty different for me, right? I loved mostly the idea of this dress when I first saw it on Topshop. I was, however, pretty nervous about if I could pull it off. I haven’t ever really been a huge fan of prints, or SUPER bold colors. But I love the end result of this look and will definitely be attempting more bold color looks. I would love to hear what you think of the outfit as well??
The dress was gifted to me by Topshop and Stylinity to style.
STYLE PHOTOS CAPTURED BY: MYESHA EVON | EDITED BY NAILAH ALI