Running a small business is hard enough, but what if you are your own worst critic? Nat talks about the self inflicted insecurities and criticism she has while running her company, Nat’s Paper Studio.
Am I good enough? A question I seem to ask myself on a regular basis. Am I good enough to do this, to make it work, to make a decent income? Am I good enough in comparison to this company or that company or these wonderful creatives I have spent months stalking on Instagram. Will people like me, like my style, get my art direction, understand my work? The list goes on and the daily struggle continues.
The nagging thoughts that swim around my head have become part of my daily routine. These moments of self doubt come and go as I tackle workload, organise our wedding, frantically Instagram new creative and handle general life admin. The highs come with lows and the constant reassurance that I need to give myself to ‘keep calm and carry on’ seems to increase with every order that I receive. But what I constantly remind my inner voice is that I LOVE what I do. I am fortunate to work with so many talented people, have wonderful clients, be part of an industry that makes me warm and fuzzy inside and be involved in a community of like minded stationers where we help each other to grow our businesses. These things are not common practice, they don’t happen in every industry and definitely don’t occur with every job, which is why I tell myself to concentrate on my passion and carry on.
I recently dipped in and out of an Instagram the March Meet the Maker challenge (#marchmeetthemaker) and realised that I’m not alone in my thoughts and worries. The very talented creator of the challenge, Joanne Hawker, detailed her anxiety about the same issues in Day 30’s ‘Top tip / advice’ post:
Reading this I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I couldn’t have said it better myself! A true ‘hurrah’ moment where I realised I’m not alone in these thoughts of doubt and self criticism, that it’s important not to dwell on the negatives, and overcome the feeling that we aren’t good enough. In Joanne’s post she also makes reference to Holly Tucker, another super creative, highly successful lady – you may not have heard of her, but you will have heard of and most likely used her company, Not On the High Street – who calls the feeling “The Imposter Syndrome”.
So I now realise that I’m not alone, but has social media made me and many others like this?
I have a love / hate relationship with social media from a business perspective. I LOVE that it’s a free tool that allows your work to reach a worldwide audience that quite frankly, no money could buy. I love that I am able to create something beautiful, connect with customers, find a never ending source of inspiration and be part of a community of like minded individuals. But I hate that it’s so time consuming, it’s hard to create a unique look and feel, difficult to stand out in a crowd of marvellous creatives with thousands of followers and it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others while scrolling through their perfect accounts. In saying this social media does, once in a while, serve you up a little snippet of something real – a personal insight that once again brings a sense of reassurance. The other day, while scrolling through my account, I realised one of my favourite, super inspirational wedding planners had fallen victim to Imposter Syndrome. Having recently realigned her business to art direction and styling she wrote a very real account on her emotions and fears:
fear. __ I’m playing that game again. The one where I freak myself out and wonder if I’m doing good enough. This always happens every so often to everyone, be you a creative or not. We play the comparison + fear game. But what are we actually afraid of? Failure? Disappointed of others? Our portfolio isn’t strong? Our nails are too short? The job your working on now is too overwhelming? Your peers seem to be happier than you? The big job you did wasn’t good enough? There are so many other more qualified people than you? That friend makes a better cup of tea? __ Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s like an in-built thing inside that crashes your mood and makes you feel like hiding under the duvet. Well. Not today friend. Grab that fear by the hair and throw it out the window, hear it scream until it disappears and hits the ground in a puff of smoke. Think looney toons. __ Today is a new day, the season is changing yes and you are here to stay. The only thing fear and comparison will do to you is hold you back from making your mark on this world. So, journal you fears, hug your cat, dance in your slippers cos you are the best and ONLY you can do what you do, no one else __ Tell me below a fear you’ve felt recently and lets squash it together __ ph. @cecelinaphotography ▫️Orvieto
Although I could quite easily play the blame game with social media, I know it’s my own mindset that I need to change. I need to realise that I am worthwhile, I am good enough and I do put in the hard work that’s vital to be successful. Although I might not be the best, I will be my best self. Bearing this in mind I will strive to create work that brings joy to someone’s special day without worrying about my own insecurities. I’ll help others, as they have helped me, and be part of a community, not be the competition. And I will continue to further myself in any way possible, to push forward to reach my goals. At the end of the day you can be your own worst enemy, but the importance of realising it and nipping it in the bud is invaluable. To quote the end of Joanne’s post – “Together, let’s put down this demon, remind people they are not alone and remind ourselves daily that we ARE good enough. Whose with me?”
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Images © Nat’s Paper Studio