Are You Holding Your Identity Too Tightly?
As creatives, it’s easy to find our self-worth in our work. Over the past few months, I’ve been realizing it’s becoming a bit of a problem in my own career. My rule of thumb is that if I'm struggling with something it's very likely that others are, too, so I need to talk about it.
So here we are!
As we’ve been working with some truly amazing clients, there have been more opportunities to stretch me, but also more opportunities for feedback that may not be quite as constructive as we may be used to.
The goal is to always create a final product that the client loves, and that will work for their brand. During the process, though, it can be difficult to disassociate your identity with the work you’re creative.
What do you say when you introduce yourself? Part of my spiel is “Hi! I’m Hannah, I’m a writer and one of the co-founders of Blue Light Media, a digital media agency.” I’m also a writer, runner, coffee enthusiast (a nice way of saying snob), and someone living with chronic illness. Each of those things has become so intertwined with who I am that my success or failure in each dictates how I feel.
It’s far too easy to forget that you have worth without all of that. Remember that phrase in the early 2000s about “labels are for soup, not people”? We can also label ourselves too much. (Let alone other people.)
Passion is good, but it can often go too far. It’s far too easy for your career and life’s work to become intertwined with your worth. These are all great things, but finding your worth in something outside of yourself isn’t. It’s a great way to become overwhelmed, exasperated, and burnt out.
You’re worth more than the blog post you put out yesterday, the photo you posted on Instagram this morning, and the contracts you landed this month. You have worth that goes far beyond any of that.
So why am I staking my content on this very easy and super fun topic? (I kid.)
Because I’ve found that creatives especially can become too invested into their labels and forget that their worth isn’t in the day or month’s events. Sure, it’s great that a client loved your work, but we tend to be a little too sensitive when they don’t.
I recently found this quote: “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth”.
Know that your identity is as a person that has immeasurable worth, regardless of how clients, co-workers, or the world sees you. Now, it’s pretty easy to talk about what the problem is, but how do we solve it? How do we learn to loosen the grip on our career as our identity?
Take a step back.
This is easy to say, but in reality it’s a much bigger challenge. Whether it’s every hour or every minute, remind yourself that you aren’t your work. You can enjoy it and it can give you a sense of fulfillment, but remember that how your latest post is doing doesn’t reflect on you as a person.
Work on a project that no one will see.
This is one of my favorite ways to decompress, because it provides a way to practice your craft without external pressures. What would you do if there was no one to react to it? It could be something you already do for work, but in a different context, or it could be trying something new.
Change the way you use social media.
I recently deleted the Facebook app from my phone. For someone who works in social media, that’s a hard leap to make. But most of my client work is on their Pages and Ads apps, so I went with it. Not even 24 hours later I realized welp, need it to log into other apps, and there are times I need to post to my own profile. (This is legitimate, I know it sounds like an excuse… haha)
I downloaded it again but hid it in a folder on the second page of apps so I don’t open it out of habit. You’ve heard it before, but I’m going to say it again: social media is a highlight reel and is in no way an accurate representation of users 100% of the time.
A social media detox isn’t the answer. If you need to detox from something, then that thing is toxic. Social media isn’t inherently bad, it’s how people use it that makes it a challenge. Instead, we need to change how we use it.
Instead of posting every day, drop it down to once or twice a week. And make those posts real. If you’re struggling with something, talk about it. If we don’t stand up to the misconceptions and challenges we face as creators, then we’re perpetuating the myth of perfection.
Friends, for the benefit of ourselves and others, let's get real about our thoughts and struggles and amazing ideas. Don't hide in the darkness because it's easy. That's where the lies take hold telling you aren't good enough and that your identity is all you are. You're so far beyond that and it's time to fully realize it.
Know this: you have immeasurable worth and no content you create can detract from that. Go out and create and explore and dream, but stay rooted in the knowledge that these pieces don't complete you.