Dear creatives, when did we become enamoured by the idea of quick, overnight successful creative career? We want it all, and we want it fast. We compare ourselves to the girl who went viral on Tiktok or the guy who built a multi-million dollar app in two years or the other girl who built an empire using Instagram. It boggles our minds why that person couldn’t be us. Why despite uploading video after video of what we deem comedic excellence we never took off yet Elsa Majimbo caught fire and was now on the cover of Forbes?
We see other young people taking seemingly lavish vacations (mostly before the pandemic) and we want it all so badly, and we want it soon. We want to take a fully funded retreat to just create in luxury! Those of us living in failed states, and struggling economies envy the “ease” at which our peers in developed countries seem to acquire what they want. Their creative industries are better and bigger. We see our peers in magazines, winning awards…or just frankly winning.
We want to be the next John Boyega or Tomi Adeyemi or the next whoever seems to have made it in life. There are a plethora of young, rich celebs (or richer than us at least) both local and international. They made it, we haven’t. We want to be exceptional too.
But here’s the thing…it doesn’t happen like that for most of us. It didn’t even happen like that for the multitudes of people with successful careers both in developed countries and here (the other half of the world). Creative industries everywhere are brutal, and following a creative career is often a high-risk endeavour.
Career success is often a slow and steady climb. It’s ordinary yet magnificent. It’s boring and sometimes seemingly mundane, but in most cases, it’s slow steady growth. Obviously, for some, it’s faster and almost none existent for the unfortunate ones, but it’s definitely not as sexy as the magazine headline stories. And yet, that’s okay.
We should take a moment and look around us. If we ask the people with successful creative careers we know in our lives to tell us their journeys we might be surprised at how “unsensational” it was. We want to be inspired by the exceptions to the rule, forgetting that often we ARE the rule. It’s an uncomfortable pill to swallow, but a liberating one nonetheless. Slow and steady can still cross the finish line.
When we accept that perhaps we are the rule, that perhaps our growth is going to be slow and steady, it frees us from the grinding pressure to achieve, to “arrive”. It removes our creativity from underneath the york we would have placed it. Nothing can kill creativity faster than overwhelming pressure, we have to be kinder to ourselves.
When we do that, we know that it’s a journey and we can focus on enjoying the ride. We know that eventually, we’ll reach the milestones we’re driving towards and all that comes with that. We resist putting ourselves under continuous pressure to shine and seemingly excel all the time. It’s exhausting and unfair on our souls.
We are confident that we know where we are going and eventually we will get there. Life is long (except for those who have theirs cut brutally short) and maybe we should desist from wasting our youth feeling inadequate and strained by the need to achieve everything fast and now. Slow and steady progress is still progress and your creative career will still flourish.
PS: This post is part of my #WinterABC blogging channel and falls under Day 2. If you missed Day 1, you can read it here. It’s a little soliloqy on why I’m participating in this challenge, a gift I’m giving to myself.