You are the sum of your experiences. No matter how similar you are to any other person, there are innumerable events throughout the span of your life that shape you into a purely unique entity. From that comes a Point-Of-View (POV) that is incredibly valuable, because it is singular. There will always be a technically better writer or art director, but the one thing that you can unequivocally say you are better at than anyone else is being yourself. No one can do you, better than you. Now don’t get me wrong this is not some rah-rah self-help/after school special telling you that you are perfect just the way you are. No, this is a call to action for you to show up as unabashedly you as possible. A call to put yourself out there, even though you may be completely terrified or occasionally fall flat on your face.
I am newer to advertising, I made a career transition from entertainment, and the first 6 months was rocky for me. I spent an incredible amount of time attempting to be what I thought my employers wanted. I was chasing some imaginary idea of a creative employee instead of bringing myself to the table. I was floundering because I was afraid. I was afraid of being wrong, of saying the wrong thing, of doing the wrong thing. It was exhausting. I finally got so tired I decided to just be myself and see what happened. That is when I really hit my stride, when I threw caution to the wind and showed my team the snarky, outlandish, loud and irrepressibly joyous person that I am. I offered up my honest opinions, pitched ideas with minimal fear, and truly infused my POV into the work I was doing. To my surprise it was well received. At that moment, I knew I had touched on something important that I had to share with other new creatives.
YOU are what your employer is looking for.
Read that again. Don’t try to fit in, try to add a new dimension to the existing dynamic. A group of all the same is boring AF and adds nothing to a creative department. Here’s a couple of ways to push past fear and just be yourself:
- Pitch your “stupid” idea. Hell, pitch your stupidest idea. You don’t have enough context yet to know if it is truly stupid or secretly brilliant. So just do it. If nothing else you’ll start to learn how to sell an idea.
- Write the copy or make the design that is being asked of you. Then do ten more that are instilled with your personal flair. Show your range and style while also giving them a chance to try something they never thought of. They may still pick the safe option, but at least they’ll know you can go above and beyond when necessary.
- Try something new that scares you and makes you feel vulnerable. Go to an open mic and perform stand-up. Sing karaoke. Go on a blind date. Learning to act in spite of fear is like training a muscle, you have to exercise it. Trust me it’ll suck at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be conditioned to deal with pressure and that will help you show up as yourself without hesitation.
There are a million ways you can push yourself to show up, the important thing is that you do. Your POV is your most valuable asset and once you realize that, your potential is limitless.
Also published on Medium.