How To Conquer Your Own Internal Struggles
Creating and building your space comes with its demons to contend with.
Stepping forward and putting your flag in the sand to say, ‘Here I am,’ feels great when people step up with you, but it does come with your own flaws and insecurities to deal with.
Being vocal, building a space and growing a community is by no means a breeze.
It’s time to exercise the honesty muscle and what can hamper your efforts is never about the quality of the content you create or the effort you put on, but our vulnerabilities.
This is not about the stereotypical forks in the road such as running out of ideas, time management, or striving for perfectionism, it’s much more personal than that.
This article is about the exploration of the internal struggles faced, when it comes to a creator business, while also providing actionable advice and encouragement for overcoming these barriers and how we can thrive in the creative process.
Owning Up To You
Let’s start by showing you my hand. Here are my flaws and what has affected me.
My whole personality has always been a cup-half-full kind of person. My energy is what keeps me enthused and I recognise the amazing freedom that comes from building an approach and a community around what you believe in, which becomes your livelihood. However, self-confidence has been something that has always hampered me.
YATM represents our ability to choose ourselves and bring ideas to life, so you end up picking your own team. However, the reason for this was from spending a life of never being asked. Not quite reaching that ‘dream’ job, not being picked for the team, not being asked to step up and present. When this has been how you have lived a lot of your life, whilst you have expectations and see what utopia looks like, when it doesn’t always deliver what you expect it hurts your confidence. It can be crushing, particularly if it is a continual trait. Over time, I realise you make your own luck.
There have been times when I have asked myself ‘Am I good enough?’ This is heightened when you put your heart into an event and when you start, whilst the reception is warm, the commitment may not be what you wanted ie. people turning up. When people don’t have too much association with what you do, or you don’t have longevity in your efforts, the return can be quite slim.
Confidence can become your stick of dynamite that fuels your progress, it is powerful. This is why you don’t accept defeat as each step takes you to a better place, a knock to self-confidence shouldn’t hamper action.
This affected me when I took so much on, in terms of health.
You can’t be everywhere, something has to give. During the days of the YATM Conference, I had a podcast, a weekly newsletter, monthly local events and preparing for a main event I didn’t have much experience of organising. Taking so much on, took its toll.
When you build a space (and it’s you at the controls), there is the attraction that we deliver in every format available. This isn’t just to build reach, but to also validate that what we create is worthy of our efforts. It’s like a TV station with plenty of programmes, you want people to know that everything is reputable and available how people like it. The thing is it takes a toll on your health and happiness. I became a shell of myself and exhausted.
I found myself on an unnecessary wheel of pressure to perform and deliver. I wanted to keep on pushing so people saw YATM. It took its toll. Overwhelm is a very real thing.
What helped was to build a supportive space, where I understood that you don’t have to be a slave to your work. It has to be of benefit to everyone, including yourself. My one big piece of advice is, the fewer channels or media you choose to be present in, the better. If you’re not on TikTok yet, you don’t need to be on TikTok if you can see traction and a return for your efforts in other spaces.
This can be the most damaging with the feeling of inadequacy.
It is hypnotic seeing others proclaim the immense success they have achieved. For the most part, success is measured by scale and reach. Numbers are the marker of credibility. Bigger audience, bigger paydays, bigger reputation.
We live in a society where marketers and creators lure us to be ‘more like me.’ Following someone else’s system might have worked perfectly for them, but it doesn’t mean that it is right for everyone else to follow their own path.
In 2022, this was something that was becoming very apparent to me where I was being sucked in and continually looking around at the happiness, growth and perpetual success of others. From newsletters that told me I could do better via their way, or the LinkedIn bunfight for attention, the magnet for short-term glory was continually in my head space.
When you get sucked in, it becomes difficult to ignore. There are detrimental effects of constantly comparing oneself to others in the industry. This comparison culture leads to self-doubt and hinders creativity.
What helped me was to focus on my work and recognise that what I am doing is unique to me and the people I create for. Why do we need to follow someone else’s path, when we can make our own maps?
Fear of Failure
When you commit to create and share, you make a promise to others. This could be a day you send a newsletter or a time you publish a podcast. What can happen is the more you think about the scope and variety of your audience, the harder it can get. Particularly when introducing new ideas.
For instance, in 2022 we shifted a format from a conference-themed event to one where people with a shared mindset can work together, this is what YATM Creator Day represents. However, it didn’t stop my anxiety from getting the better of me for the first event where I was asking the audience to step into a space to do something we hadn’t done before.
A lot of what I do is experimenting with new ideas and pulling together aspects of what I learn to make something better. However, when you do something for the first time, it can be filled with insecurities. For instance, new means an ask from your audience they are not familiar with. You never know how things can turn out. The investment of time and money may not give the return you wanted.
When I began YATM it was a big step to ask people to attend an event they may not be familiar with, the only comparison was ‘networking’ events. There have been low moments, but this always provides a place that says, ‘it can go back to looking like this.’
When you embrace what you don’t quite know, yet, you understand that it becomes a learning experience that leads to modification, growth and resilience. YATM now has an annual format with Creator Day that brings people together and I’m glad we had to go through the process of not just delivering what many do, namely a whole day just listening to people at the front of a room.
How To Address These Inadequacies
This can’t just be about highlighting my insecurities, what I started over 10 years ago still fills me with excitement, hope and opportunity.
The negative side has left me in a heap and has got the better of me.
It was only by small steps and being aware of what’s around me that things started to change and to be in a healthier place. Let me share what I now know, that can also help your side.
You Are Your Audience
If you are part of the audience that you serve, there’s no great divide between you and those you’re reaching out to. If you want to be a part of something you have to want to get involved with those very others you’re trying to reach.
This has been what has helped my own approach in the past few years.
🧐 Changing it from – What do people need from me?
😃 To – What would have helped the old me?
When you know the people you’re producing content for, you begin to have more conviction and confidence in what you say.
When you know that the old version of you is part of your audience it’s about the learning experiences you hand down that can lead to growth and resilience.
Value The People Who Are With You, They Are Friends Too
Cherish the people who stand alongside you, celebrate together, respect their input and find ways to learn together.
There’s no need to be engineering some sort of hierarchy between you and others – as I highlighted in (i) become a part of your audience. You experience things, mature and what also feels great is the ability to age together.
This is about feeling a part of something with others, not where you put added pressure on yourself. For instance, if efforts are starting to grow, you can encourage other people to step up and they become leaders YATM Lunch Club events, are now hosted by others from the wider community.
We can’t bottle it in. We all need support from peers, mentors and the communities we are a part of. When you open up and it becomes an ongoing discussion with others you recognise you are building a network for guidance, feedback, and encouragement.
Belief In Your Convictions
When you believe in what you are doing, it doesn’t mean that your insecurities aren’t going to grapple you.
We may think that it comes as a breeze to confident people, but anxiety and insecurity are part of everyone’s efforts.
The forks in the road and the struggles are what pave the way for stronger ideas and an understanding of what works.
Too often the focus is on what you can take now, rather than the return through persistence. If you have an idea that others can associate with and there is a market for what you do, it can open up so much opportunity. Learning through tough times is what teaches you to be resilient and to dig deep and keep going.
There is something to be said about experience and practice.
Self Confidence Shifts From Self
Here is a thing I realised. When you stop thinking about ‘self’ but the role you play for others, it takes you away from your insecurities as you think about the whole rather than the one small part you play.
We spend a lot of time creating in isolation, it becomes liberating when we know the work is there for the benefit of others and also the opportunity for others to join in. That takes away any insecurities.
You start to join up the dots that we are all in this together. If you have a belief system that others can get behind, there becomes a collective spirit. If people can see you care, you keep on doing the hard work to make a difference and continually form the space. This means that the negative energy falls away.
When you do more with other people, it lifts everything.
The barriers that are right in front of us and our efforts aren’t about trying to find our place, it’s when you care for that place. This is where you focus and bring your energy, insight, experience and dedication.
When building our reputation, businesses and creation efforts, overcoming internal barriers is often an obstacle we have to overcome. It can become crushing when it gets the better of us.
Self-confidence, burnout and fear of failure have all played their part in my development. However, I also recognise that this has paved the way for greater creativity, resilience and just being happy. It all comes down to pushing yourself to do things that you may not have a huge amount of experience with but the pursuit of curiosity and wanting to bring ideas to life, that don’t just live on a page.
Every hurdle presents its opportunity for progression. When we accept our vulnerabilities and embrace development, we empower ourselves to make an impact not just for others, but for our own growth and persistence.