Did you have a creative dream as a child? How does your current reality compare to this dream? Often, our creative dream is met with fear and judgement. It can be difficult to hold on to and so we manipulate it, squashing it into a ‘society-approved’ shape, sacrificing the parts that made us happy. We hope this will save us from the pain of rejection and critique. We hope it will appeal to the masses while deep down we wonder, “Will I ever be paid for my unique brand of creativity? Will I ever be enough?”
When I was in high school, my life was ahead of me – full of possibility. “You can be anything you want to be,” they told me. “You can do anything you want to do.”
“I am going to be an actress,” I declared.
I could see this so clearly in my mind: the glitz and glamour, the red carpets, photoshoots, hours of hair and makeup and the influence I would have – the recognition. I was going to be a star. They will all love me.
But then society stepped in. “Risky,” they said. “Can you handle the rejection? What about a fall-back career, just in case? What if you have to film naked? You can always do it later. You’re already too late.”
Fear clasped my dream and ripped it apart before my eyes.
I would downsize my dream, then, choose something safer. Engineering, maybe? No glamour at all. Photography? Graphic Design? I can design magazines in Paris. Still creative, still glamorous. A compromise then.
3 years later, early 2010, and I’m close to graduating from my graphic design degree. I had done everything I was supposed to: attend lectures, complete projects, but I was never enough. I allowed average marks (foreign to me after school came fairly easily) and subjective critiques to become judgements of my ability, my character, and my worth.
The compromise hadn’t been enough to save me. The fear was back. “Inadequate,” it said. “Average. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not as good as them. You need to keep learning, or don’t you have what it takes?”
I was determined to find a job and with it a mentor. I felt continual learning would eventually make good enough. Paris can wait. I’ll start small.
With each failed job interview, I downgraded my expectations; more compromise.
Magazine (Perfect fit): “Thank you, but we’re not hiring.”
Children’s book publisher (This could work): “Thank you. I’m not really looking for a junior but I wanted to give you an opportunity to get some feedback on your portfolio. It needs some work.”
Printer assistant (Do I even want this job? I’ll take anything at this point): “Thank you, but we’ve gone with someone else.”
Junior Assistant at an Advertising Firm (Not design, but it’s a foot in the door): “You’re overqualified. We’re really looking for someone to develop. We’ve gone with a high-school student.”
I’ve shrunken so small. I can’t compromise anymore.
Broken, I cry, slumped on the floor of my shower. Hot water bleeding into the tears.
Ego bruised, I apply for retail jobs I deem fit for a school student not a tertiary graduate. I’ve compromised my dream so much it’s become so small. I begin working as a travel agent.
My poor mindset, societal conditioning and fear cornered me. Instead of bolstering my inner confidence, I looked for external validation. I waited for someone to tell me I was enough. That I was worthy. That I was talented.
They never came.
My work in retail and later the finance industry helped me create space. As I earned money, I was able to take care of my basic needs. I had a roof over my head, food on the table, some travel, and some glamour. If I had never walked this part of my path, I may never have discovered my ability to learn, to uncover the needs of my clients and sell myself. In hindsight, it was the perfect practical compliment to my creative skills.
During this time, I also learned to love myself regardless of fame or fortune. I learned the power of mindset, inner confidence and unconditional love.
I had a baby and took a year off work to be with her. This started a new phase in my life, a rebirth (literally and figuratively) that allowed space for reflection and intention. What do I want to do now?
“You can do anything you want to do,” the familiar calling from within echoing my dreams of the past.
In the stillness and the safety, I started to listen to this calling. This inner purpose. “Adult training and development,” it whispered. “Creativity.”
Self-directed learning is my genius zone. I read 41 books and textbooks in a 2 year period about neuropsychology, coaching, productivity, creative process and thinking, finance, teaching and art. I also listened to countless hours of podcasts about entrepreneurship, marketing and mindset.
I synthesize and combine this deep and varied knowledge with my lived experience and previous studies then translate it into manageable, useful and applicable advice tailored to my students as I facilitate workshops, coach and blog.
I’m told by my coach and colleagues that this ability to consume and combine huge amounts of information into practical, consumable chunks really sets me apart. I can access information stored neatly in my head to help my clients create rapid transformation.
I invested in practical learning too: a nine week course on entrepreneurship in my local town, a 30 day Accelerator with an online business coach and a six month coaching container to stretch my abilities and create a greater reach and impact (ensuring transformation for my clients).
Teaching deepens the learning even more and the joy I feel reminds me that I’m on the right path. I see now, looking back, that I was always on the right path. I had to be triggered in certain ways in order to find my own feelings of worth. Without these experiences, I couldn’t be where I am now, coaching my own clients to overcome similar mindset blocks.
I feel my chest expand with pride as I watch the spark of understanding in my clients’ eyes, as I watch them take brave, bold action in the world and amplify their creative lives. They are no longer held back by fear, procrastination, excuses and lack. Instead of frustration, bitterness and disappointment they project freedom, inspiration and confidence.
This time fear is just along for the ride but he doesn’t get to drive. There is no compromise. My dream will expand as I grow. The recognition I seek comes from within.
I am worthy of living my dream.
And so are you.
I’m Hannah and I am here to help you see your inherent self-worth, to help you build the intrinsic motivation, persistence, and belief in realising your creative potential. Instead of downsizing your dream, invest in yourself. I promise your increased confidence, creative risk-taking, and ability to own your work will result in more financial security and creative contracts.
It’s time to grow into your dream.