Note To Self: Do You
Success is what you make it
Ambition. You’ve had it since your college years; maybe even during your high school years. More than a decade later in your career, you look back and it isn’t anywhere near where you pictured yourself to be. Does this sound familiar?
Do you. This is what I tend to remind myself of. Comparing one's career to another can easily be misleading; it makes no sense. You would really have to know the other person to make some sort of accurate comparison. Everyone has their own path. Everyone has different experiences. Everyone defines success differently. Your definition of success can and will probably change over time. Life — at the end of the day — is unpredictable and sometimes out of your hands. More importantly: perspective. Having perspective will keep you grounded.
The creative industry — in my case, the motion design industry — can feel fast-paced. Fast-paced in terms of how much young talent pops up every year. It’s like having been a bench player for the NBA for a few years already and you’re witnessing the ‘MJs’ and ‘Kobes’ getting signed for the first time. ‘Kids’ these days can really make you feel like shit the moment you browse their Instagram account, seeing the high-quality work they’ve posted and then finding out they just graduated college last year.
Motion design is considered to be a fairly young field compared to something such as graphic design. Having said that, it feels like it’s popularity is increasingly growing every year. Scrolling through your Instagram feed of mind-blowing creative content can be bad enough, but coming across more young talent and finding out they landed an opportunity at Buck or Giant Ant can make a fellow motion designer feel very envious, not to mention, increasing the already unavoidable imposter syndrome.
I’ll be 39-years-old in the new year. I have a 7-year-old son who gives me purpose; purpose to teach him how to be a better person and how he can be anything he wants to be when he grows up as long as he puts his mind to it. I have a wife; a best friend I’ve been married to for eleven years who not only supports my ambition but constantly reminds me of the important things in life.
The point I’m trying to make is that putting perspective on what you already have can really help during those times when you’re feeling blue about your career. All the ‘ifs’ or ‘shoulda, woulda, couldas’ should be easier to brush off when you think of how lucky and privileged you are to have what you have and to be doing what you get to do compared to other people in the world; at least for me, it does. Every now and then, I simply ask my son, “Did you know that some kids don’t have a mom or a dad?” or “Did you know some people don’t get to eat dinner?”. He makes me proud when he asks us if we have any snacks or money to give every time we pass by a homeless person. Teaching him these values are also good reminders to myself.
I consider myself a lucky guy. Thinking about everything I’m fortunate to have in my life doesn’t necessarily discard the ambition I once had; I still have ambition. Reminding myself of this just changes the way I approach it and redefines what I once thought success was to me. I still plan to do the best I can in my career during my time here on earth because I love what I do. Any discouragement that comes my way nowadays is temporary; a smile or a hug from my son is my usual home remedy.
I would love the opportunity to work with studios and individuals I admire, but I’ve also accepted the fact that it might not happen, and that’s okay. Would I have done anything differently early on in my career? Maybe — but any regret I might have isn’t big enough that it would supersede what I now value most. I’m grateful for what I have. Providing for my family so that they’re happy and are given opportunities to do what they enjoy; that’s my lifelong ambition; my priority. That will be my success.