Anyone else ever feel like you want to do everything in the world? Or like you don’t know what you want to do because maybe you’re not quite sure what you’re good at, yet?
I’ve struggled with both.
I’m always “on,” and need to be juggling several things at once in life to feel fulfilled. Naturally, that led to me trying to create every different type of piece of art. Um, hello burnout. Not my best idea to-date...
The more I researched and learned about different art forms, the more I felt this sense of “what if I can’t be good enough at [insert project here]?” I think each of us has experienced that sting of inadequacy at some point in our lives.
Lately, my focus has been on realizing that I will not be the best at everything, and reminding myself it’s impossible to have it all, all at once. Instead, I’ve been working to figure out what fills my cup and inspires me. I’ve been trying to identify the qualities I have and align my values and passions with the goals I hope to reach.
I was burning the candles at both ends by writing out lists of every single idea I wanted to try, and how I wanted to break into every single market. The more I pinned, searched on Etsy, and googled, the more overwhelmed I became. The more I realized that my time would only get more limited due to the growing demands of life and a new career, the more discouraged I felt. In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t going to give up, but rather that I needed to make some kind of change for the sake of my sanity.
After some time, I decided to narrow down that list. I realized that no, I won’t be able to be the wedding calligrapher who can letter every single big mirror and leather jacket. Those huge mirrors and wooden slabs give me tremendous anxiety. But I can be the wedding calligrapher who delivers beautiful seating cards. And I can be the calligrapher who challenges myself with projects outside of my comfort zone on the occasions when I have time and energy. No, I probably can’t be the artist who churns out dozens of large flawless abstract paintings and stretches each canvas myself - I simply don’t have the time, and that would require sacrificing the quality of my paintings. I would love to have the time and skill set to do these things. But what I can do is continue to offer the services that I know I can provide at a professional level, that I enjoy, and that do not result in me spreading myself too thin.
I could get into a whole discussion about setting reasonable expectations - maybe I’ll save that for the next blog post. It’s important to consider! For now, I will say that making the conscious decision to key in on the important parts of myself, my work, my abilities, and my goals, has changed the way I am able to work and the way that I feel about myself and my services.
Since our lives are forever changing, this is probably an exercise worth repeating throughout our personal and professional lives. Some considerations that guided me during this process were the following: How do I add value? What are my strengths? Weaknesses? Where do my passions lie? What boundaries do I need to draw? My answers to these questions helped me create a framework for where to focus my energy and how to market my services.
Whether you’re a fellow artist, rocket scientist, or kickass stay at home parent, we all have different motivations, challenges, and aspirations in life. We can try to be the best at everything, but we probably won’t win that fight. If you find yourself struggling with what you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be, consider sitting down and writing down the answers to the questions above. Dig deep. Think about the things (or people) that motivate you. Then go after what it is that you want. Find that niche that fits for you. Put your plans into action, lean on your support system, and make it happen.
If this post helped you, or if it resonated deeply with you, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a message on Instagram at @DCBrushesandStrokes. Good luck finding your niche - you got this! I’m cheering you on.