Fuck Your Self-Esteem: Why We All Suck

Let's face it... as creative youth, we struggle to perfect our craft and we struggle to market ourselves, as brands and individuals. Anybody working or looking for work in the creative field can empathize with this fact - we all suck. You hear it all the time, from cookie-cutter Tumblr thots and in subtweets from your Twitter foes: there's a difference between being confident and being cocky. Sounds cliche right? Well, let's break it down:

We are lying if we say that we don't have issues with our self-esteem, from the way we look to the way that our work is perceived by the world. When someone tells me there is a difference between confidence and cockiness, it forces me to wonder which of the two I am. The honest answer is neither. As a freelance artist and small business owner, the one thing I am constantly avoiding is complacency. Sure, being comfortable is great in the present, but in the grand scheme of things it only hinders self-improvement and personal growth. To be complacent is to stop growing, and what is not growing is dead. 

That's not to say that confidence isn't important; after all, no sane person would invest their time or money into somebody that wasn't somewhat confident in their ideas. The problem lies in the grey area between confidence and cockiness. To be confident is to dance with the devil, and to be cocky is to take him home with you after. Some of you may be wondering, "how can confidence possibly be good AND bad?" and all I can ask is have you ever eaten fast food? So good, yet so bad, but I digress. I believe the power of confidence isn't about the entirety of the notion; I believe that the power of confidence lies in the direct object - what are you confident about? Your social media presence? Your "aesthetic"? Your affiliates?

If anything, be confident in your work - even your "bad" work (I personally don't believe in such a thing). Don't undermine any of it, no matter how terrible you think it is. It's all part of the process. As creative individuals, the reason we do the things we do is because we have good taste. Yes, sometimes we create things that could have been better, but our taste is the reason that our own work disappoints us. Recognizing our shortcomings is the first step, and to those that have read this far and still choose to be cocky - ignorance is not bliss.

One of the biggest problems with creative youth is their collective anxiety and sense of urgency to put their ideas out into the world. I think some of us forget that when we release new work, it's not the only thing that is judged. New viewers judge it based on your delivery and previous viewers subconsciously compare it to all of your old work. Don't focus on clout, it's all in the moment; rather, be conscious of what impression your work will have on your portfolio and career in the long run. Where does this move fit in the grand scheme of your story?

Countless artists fail to contemplate the collective effect of all of their singular actions, which is why I personally place so much emphasis on risk assessment, creative direction, and content strategy. These are what separate regular moves from power moves, the boys from the men. No matter how confident you are, even your best ideas can always be better. The best advice I can give to artists struggling to break through is always avoid complacency and constantly re-work your ideas. Sure, they will never be 100% perfect, but they can be pretty damn close. In my mind, the things that could be improved work like exponential decay (Google this if you never paid attention in math class), the list of things to improve progressively gets smaller and eventually your work will be as close to perfect as you can manage. 

To recap, in the spirit of improvement - we all suck.