4 years ago, my girlfriend (which is my wife now :) ) and I got into a mini argument late one night. It was nothing really, but when I was alone getting my mind off it, I started feeling weird.
First, my throat felt like it was swelling shut. Next, I had the overwhelming feeling of having a pallet of bricks on my chest.
My heart felt like it was about to explode and the room began to go black all around me.
Safe to say I was freaking out and Emily had to run me to the emergency room.
Turns out I was having a massive panic attack.
Looking back on it now it seems a bit silly but I thought I was dying. The stress and pressure I had put myself under for years finally caught up with me.
For months I kept this to myself as I thought I was going crazy. I felt I would be considered weak and any reputation I had built for myself would crumble.
Sadly, many of us bottle up these demons as we pursue a creative career.
At the end of the day, you’re a human being. It’s okay to feel not okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel inadequate at times as everyone deals with demons whether they are visible or not.
This episode is a friendly reminder that you’re not alone with your struggles and it’s important to not suppress them.
Recently I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” Honestly, its really clarified this topic of vulnerability that I dealt with in the past and in the present.
The early years of life getting bullied led to me thinking I needed to be a badass in order to be cool.
When I started getting prescribed medication to treat my anxiety, I felt like I would get torn to pieces if this side of me was exposed.
The months I spent trying to hide it were the worst as it tore me down from the inside out. The more I held it in and felt I needed to struggle in silence, the more I was losing the game of controlling my mind.
How I felt at the time reminds of this quote from Mark in his book:
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]“The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a form of struggle.”[/perfectpullquote]
This is what I believe many of us creatives do, we bottle up our emotions and avoid the elephant in the room.
In my unhappiness, I realized I had to ditch the armor, swallow my pride and accept that I was not a badass.
I took action and responded by starting one of the hardest conversations of my life.
I’m paraphrasing a bit from the book but Mark states something along the lines of:
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]“When you feel shitty, it’s your brain telling you there is a problem that’s unresolved. Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, you’re supposed to do something.”[/perfectpullquote]
The more I held in these emotions, the worse my issues got. However, I finally consulted a few close individuals around me who dealt with anxiety. What they had to say drastically changed my perspective on the matter.
Having the hard talk and getting if off my chest let me know I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t crazy.
The more I talked about it the better I began to feel.
About a month or so of talking it out to people I brought it publicly to Facebook and asked how other people, especially creatives, dealt with their anxiety.
The empathic and helpful responses I received blew my mind. I had around 100 comments of people stating how they fought it. This ended up becoming a community of encouragement on that little status.
This manifested into a blog post which I hope others find when they need a boost.
I feel by sparking that hard conversation, it let more people than just myself find a little more peace in battling their demons.
As a creative, I still deal with anxiety every day. My biggest fear isn’t to put a podcast into the world to be judged or to be on stage in front of hundreds of people. My biggest fear is getting caught up in my own head and losing control.
Keeping this to myself used to put me in some dark places. The new me is working on accepting these funks as part of being a human. This is my body signaling something needs to be attended to.
Maybe this approach will help you too?
You’re human and you’re not a badass and this is okay.
Give yourself permission to feel shitty for a bit but don’t avoid the situation—you just may be making things worse.
I encourage you to ditch the armor and get it off your chest with someone you feel comfortable with.
The low moments in our life make us appreciate when things are going right...and believe me, things will go wrong.
Use it all to your advantage and channel it into your work and your story. You never know who you’ll make an impact on when you embrace that you’re human.
Brooke Robinson is an Austin, TX native who fell in love with letterforms. Over the years she has taken that love for letters and type and transformed it into a global type powerhouse Instagram account called Goodtype.
Her love of letterforms started after taking a class in college. From there, she began collecting resources around her, not to mention the art around Austin played a role in her interests as well.
This love led to her wanting to surround herself with the amazing work she would find online and throughout social media. She began screenshotting all these beautiful works to come back to later. Her phone began to fill up so quickly that it sparked the idea to unload all of these images onto an Instagram account.
She would share those images and credit the artists. It started as a thing just for her but it quickly grew into something much more than that as the #Goodtype hashtag began to take off. There was an evident interest in the world in hand lettering and her Instagram page quickly became the hotspot as creatives would make a piece and begin tagging Brooke to catch a feature.
Next thing you know, she has a following of over ten thousand people and that's when I became aware of the account and got one of my first features. From that feature, it sparked the validation I needed to know I could do something with my art and I'm certain it was the same spark that many other creatives received as well.
It's safe to say that starting and curating Goodtype has changed her life.
It's allowed her to:
It's been pretty awesome to watch her build this successful platform that was once just for her. Now she is in a position to give back to so many creatives who are looking to take their work to the next level.
Things haven't always been easy as there is plenty of stress that comes with working a day job and trying to pursue your side project. She's dealt with plenty of issues that usually revolved around time but when you love something, you find a way to make time to pursue it.
One of the most recent struggles was figuring out how to create, curate and ship the first Goodtype Book Vol. 1. She had to figure out how to internationally ship these as sometimes it would cost $60 for global shipping which is insane.
However, she made it happen and is already in the works of creating Vol. 2!
At the heart of Goodtype is its motto: "Strength in Letters."
The tagline was inspired by someone who created a quick drawing that used the hashtag and it caught her attention. She marinated on it and knew that it needed to be the motto.
Brooke states, "We truly are strength in letters in our work and communication within the lettering community. The positivity and encouragement that takes place within this lettering world are amazing."
With the growth of this community, it's recently given her the opportunity to bring Goodtype to SXSW in 2017. Here she got to be on a panel discussing "Good Type and its Influence on Style" and how the history of typography and lettering played a monumental role in our modern design.
Along with the panel, she organized two hand lettering workshops which were taught by the homie Adam Vicarel. The panel and workshops were a hit and there will no doubt be a bigger Goodtype influence in future SXSW.
When asking Brooke what she had planned for Goodtype in the next 5 years, it was clear she had a vision.
Due to the awkward void of accessibility in the education side of things, she wants to transform Goodtype into a physical space where creatives can:
With know Brooke and her drive, I have no doubt this will all take shape.
In closing, I asked Brooke: "What’s one piece of advice you would give to creatives just starting off or in a creative funk?"
Her answer is one that can resonate with any creative from amateur to pro.
She states, "Stop comparing yourself and focus on yourself and what you’re doing. If it’s making you happy then keep doing it because if you don’t stop, you’re going to improve. Stick with it, and if you have to compare yourself, do it from a way that you’re learning and improving. If it makes you happy then why would you ever give up?
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking you don’t have the best tools, resources and skills at your disposal. It’s even easier to let these “obstacles” hold you back from pursuing or sticking with something that’s important to you.
When in reality, it’s rare that someone has the skills or resources right out of the gate. I know I didn’t.
At the end of the day, it’s about doing something instead of nothing and realizing you’re doing the best you can. That’s all you can and should expect from yourself.
When you stick with it and look back on the progress you made, you'll realize that imagination and resourcefulness are a powerful combination.
This episode is a daily reminder not only to you but to myself when I get caught up in letting that inner critic convince me that I’m not doing enough.
One of the most challenging thing in pursuing something important like your creative career is that you don’t always know the exact direction to go.
What medium should you create?
What style should you share?
What should the name you create under should be?
On the flipside, one of the most exciting things is that you don’t know the right answer.
As a creative, you’re a problem solver and this is what you do best.
You have to experiment and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, you’re figuring out yourself along the way too.
Something I struggle with is showing the true foolish side I have in my writing and speaking. I feel this is due to my extensive background in sports, coaching and training because I’m a coach and an artist at heart.
Sadly, I’ve had “anonymous” emails telling me that I’m trying too hard and it cuts deep because I am trying. I’ve been blogging for over 2 years now, speaking for 1 year and podcasting for about 8 months. There’s still a ton of room for improvement and I’m far from being an expert.
I’m still figuring out how to inject my humor into my monologs while getting my point across. It’s easy in my art because I don’t have to speak or write and I've been doing it my whole life.
I want you to know the goofy side of me:
You know, I’m a downright fucking fool sometimes but you don’t always see or hear this side of me. I’m still learning how to blend all of this together...but I’m doing the best I can.
I’m guilty of thinking that I needed the best pencils, pens, paper or equipment to get me on the level of the people I look up to.
No longer do I think my drawing utensils are the key to unlocking artistic greatness—I could create a masterpiece with a crayon because the tools don’t make the artist.
However, I’m still hard on myself for not having the money nor resources to have the video / photo equipment and skills I feel I need to stand out.
I have to constantly remind myself I’m doing the best I can right now with what I have.
I saw a post recently that convinced me there are plenty of ways to shine without the fanciest equipment.
Extremely simple yet extremely creative.
However, the video was not high quality and there was a lot of flickering which can be distracting.
You think that stopped this video from going viral?
I’m literally seeing this all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
This is a prime example that you can use your phone and your creativity (resourcefulness and imagination) to stand out amongst the sea of noise on social media.
Right now, I’m a content creator and artist on a budget. I would give anything to have a high-end camera and an amazing rig setup to record my work but it’s not in my budget.
For my podcast, I have a very basic setup too. I don’t have all the fancy equipment I thought I needed and my office is far from soundproof. However, I put a lot of attention into getting the best audio quality out of my mic and learning how to edit properly so this doesn’t sound like turds on your end. :)
What I do is far from perfect, but I can’t let not having the fancy tools and resources hold me back from starting or sticking with it. At the end of the day, I’m showing up and doing something rather than nothing.
Give yourself permission and accept that you’re doing the best you can with what you have at your disposal. Imagination and resourcefulness are your secret weapons during these stages.
Please remind yourself that you’re human. You’re going to deal with these phases of doubt and feeling you need more to stand out.
I deal with them all the time.
During these times where you want to quit or feel like you’re not doing enough, remind yourself you’re doing the best you can.
You got this.