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JUST BE YOURSELF & EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOU…
Yeah, right. If I had a penny for every time I have heard that line I would currently be found on my personal yacht off of the Amalfi Coast sipping champagne cocktails and enjoying the gentle sea breeze. Let’s just say, I am not.
My entire life I have been a champion of comparison. I can remember being as young as kindergarten, watching other kids and thinking things like, “Why can’t I have blond hair like that girl?” or “That kid has the best shirt, why don’t I have a shirt like that?”
In High School all the kids were super into that “grunge” style (this was 1990’s Portland, Oregon FYI) so I was too, even though my natural style is definitely not defined as oversized flannel shirts and Van’s skater shoes. But, there I was, forcing my parents to take me to the mall to buy, you guessed it, flannel and Van’s, secretly hating the purchases even as I bought them. Although, I do still have a cherry pair of Mahogany Doc’s and I rock them with pride. Don’t judge.
Fast forward a few years (I am giving myself a bit of a break here by saying “few”) and here we are. What is the is absolute WORST job for a professional comparer? Artist… I am a glutton for torture, you see. I’ve had this gig for a few years now, so I am JUST NOW starting to learn to trust my own vision (gah), but when I started out I literally spent hours pouring over other brand designers work trying to emulate a bit of what they had created. I would look at my own designs and then back at theirs and burst into tears because I did not have the same vision that they did.
I literally felt like the Pink Match in a bundle of Blue.
My style was different, which in my “comparer” mind meant that it was awful. For the first two years of my business journey, I would literally hardly ever meet client deadlines because even when I had completed the work, it took me days to talk myself into sending them. I was paralyzed by the fear that they would see the designs and KNOW that I was a faker. I had many minor nervous breakdowns (complete with more hours of pouring over other designers websites and designs to beat myself up over the fact that what I sent out didn’t look the same) waiting for feedback from the clients, and if it wasn’t positive, I was in full on meltdown mode.
Ok, so have I gotten over that? Absolutely, I have been doing this long enough that my skin has definitely gotten thicker. It doesn’t even bother me anymore if the client isn’t thrilled with every concept they see, because I know that means we are making progress through honest feedback, and that it will allow me to give them exactly what they need for their business. I am ok with that, even more, I love that back and forth of creation. But am I cured of my lifetime affliction with comparison, nope. Not even close. Until very recently, I was still that girl. Trolling other designers Pinterest boards and websites, trying to figure out what I could do differently to be better at my job. And then I had an epiphany of sorts:
What the heck is wrong with what I am already doing?
The answer was nothing. I literally couldn’t find one thing wrong with my work, because it is who I am as a person and as a designer. I put my heart and soul into these designs and I love them. Every single one of them. I love them so much that if I could hug them I would never let go. I love my work, it has a very definitive style that is all me, it’s mine and I created it. And I love it. I get to work with dream clients such as Fine Art Photographers, Fashion Bloggers, and many others because the style of my work speaks to them on a level they understand and like. And I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. So, why do I torture myself with how many followers another designer has or what kind of work they are putting out for their clients? And, let me tell you, that realization hit me like a ton of bricks and suddenly something clicked in my mind. Something that allows me to TRUST myself and my style, and to know that is always going to be enough, because it is beautiful AND different, which I feel has helped my success.
And with that, I stopped. Finally. At the very least, I am in comparison remission.
It literally took me 25 (36) years to figure out that they were somewhat right the whole time when they said, “Just be yourself and everyone will love you.” It’s not true that everyone will love you, but it is true that the right people will. So, remember this when you are on the comparison struggle bus, you actually should just be yourself…. Because you really are the best.