Why is prioritization such a bitch?
Because it's not as easy as choosing "the most important thing," is it? No, in truth, it's not choosing "the most important thing" as much as it is purposefully telling allllll the other things, "sorry, you're not the most important." That's the kicker. Because maybe you're the kind of person who enjoys a lot of different things. Maybe variety is actually "the most important thing." But how does one pay bills with "variety?" Still working on an answer to this.
In the meantime, I'm forced to face the fact that a little bit of focus and intentional prioritization does actually lead to some sense of accomplishment. Maybe that's enough. It's not to say that I can't ever do something different later on... but if I continue changing my mind and abandoning new projects in favor of the new hotness at daily/weekly/monthly intervals, it's becoming clear to me that I'm going to continue running as fast as I can in a hamster wheel. I'm exhausted.
So I guess it's time to choose—not "the most important thing forever" but "the most important thing for now." For now. Small, dedicated, daily progress toward one thing, for as long as I am able to handle it. Will it suck? Oftentimes, yes. Will it challenge my propensity for boredom? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I'll have something of substance on the other side of this endeavor. What? No idea. And that's the scary part. I guess. Uncertainty is like sticking your hand into a box labeled "exotic" with your eyes closed.
Maybe it's worth choosing an end date for the prioritization. Like a month-long diet challenge or something. Those things work because your brain knows that it isn't permanent. All progress beyond that end is voluntary but the initial trial period forces you to engage with a thing sans escape hatch - long enough to form a habit and an informed opinion.
I just did a month of no added sugar in March. It was hard but it was attainable. And you know what? My stomach hurt enough after the first four days of "YES I CAN EAT SUGAR NOW SO I'M GONNA EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE" that I'm genuinely reconsidering how much I consume on a day to day basis now. It appears as though my one-month experiment may actually have a lasting impact.
So let's prioritize. Are you still with me? Stay with me. These posts are going to be stream of consciousness. I have a lot to say and no interest in writing a clean outline ahead of time. So buckle up.
Here are the things on my list:
- Build out this C&B web-presence until I feel as though I have enough infrastructure in place to run a small shop. This is a dangerous one because I enjoy the anal-retentive nip and tuck of this kind of work but it's a constructive avoidance rabbit hole that I need to save myself from.
- Update my personal website to reflect my latest work. It's sorely, sorely, SORELY out of date and that will only get exponentially worse as time goes on. I don't have a single thing in my portfolio to showcase any of the design work I've been doing professionally for the last almost-four years. Ugh, that sentence made me cringe.
- Keep drawing and exploring new illustration projects. There are a lot of avenues/techniques/opportunities I've yet to explore.
- Explore new design ideas. I've been doing the same kind of design professionally for a long time. There is a lot more out there. Personally and professionally.
- Try new things. There are a thousand crafts I'd love to learn. Endless; and my moth-to-the-flame attraction to newness makes this option seem really attractive. But this is the one I have to watch out for the most, I think. This is the dangerous one.
I've spent a long time developing my design career. This has been both lucrative and valuable. And walking away from that at this point seems like, I don't know, giving up maybe? Failing? Abandonment? It's bullshit, though. I've proven to myself that I can excel in design and I will not lose those skills.
There is a little gremlin in the back of my mind, though, that tells me I'll regret it if I continue to ignore illustration. I've gone back and forth over the years about whether or not I want to pursue it professionally. Like, all the goddamn time. But... given the fact that I'm 31 and I continue to have this fight, it probably means that it's at least worth trying. As a person who changes hobbies like she changes underwear, it should be noteworthy that I continue to draw every year. Sure it comes in waves, but it never goes away. I have mountains to learn and innumerable skills to improve and develop, but I'd be lying to myself if I ignored how far I've already come. Why won't I just lean into it? Why do I continue to believe that the thing I have the most experience with over the course of my 31 years of existence is not a viable career path for me? It's insane.
I think I'm afraid I'll hate it. I already don't "love" it in the way I feel like I should. It's hard. I'm good at it, sure, but I'm still learning. Always learning. Things don't come out perfectly every time; any time. Concepts don't always come to fruition. Sometimes I don't feel like doing it. I feel like an imposter when I look at other artists on Instagram who feel a compulsive to draw every second of every day. I don't feel a compulsion to do literally anything for every second of every day. Does that mean that this isn't worthwhile? No, I know that it doesn't. It means that I'm a multi-passionate person who wants to be a little more well-rounded. That. Is. Allowed.
Let me say that again so that maybe I'll hear it this time.
I am allowed to live a well-rounded, multi-passionate life and still have the desire to work as a professional illustrator•artist•designer—whatever form that ends up taking.
I just have to stay the course, I guess. That's the hardest part. Some things are worth commitment. Intrinsic commitment. Even for me, I think. Even for me.
So here's the list—for now. Let's say for 2020:
- Finish this website (yes I'm writing this before it's done. OMG INTERWEBS MAGIC)
- Update my personal portfolio site. These top two items will be important in relieving anxiety in an effort to open some mental space for creativity.
- Dive headlong into illustration exploration. Walk down this path for a bit and see where I end up.
In the next post, I'll talk about some strategies for how I think I'll tackle these things and set some internal deadlines... maybe.