Precious little princess
I’ve read through the results of many industry surveys, I’ve sat with Creatives who have cried because of the pressure they feel and I’ve mentored them when they’ve struggled to find work.
Ironically, I’ve been invited by the same Universities that didn’t accept me into their degrees 30 years ago, to speak to their students about forging a career in creativity — and have contradicted lecturers in my dose of reality to graduating student’s questions.
I’ve put my arms around Creatives consoling them as they’ve sobbed under the weight of overbearing demands, long hours, performance perfectionism and anxiety.
I’ve heard clients call Creatives ‘Precious Little Princesses’ because they can’t handle direct, constructive feedback and I’ve heard false leaders tell me that my work is 'shit'.
I’ve sat and listened to some Creatives talk about ‘the craft’, deriding others who balance craft and business — labelling them a sell out.
I've seen Creatives break down from anxiety they can't describe and I've seen business owners admit that they're one failure away from going out of business as their hands tremble from the stress of it all.
And, as I sit here amongst this mess, I am not surprised that they think that we are a bunch of ‘Precious Little Princesses’. I’m not surprised that some of us fear going into work, whilst others deal with anxiety, depression and even worse, privately, afraid to talk about it to anyone but their own self-talk.
I’m not surprised at all because the system we have accepted for so long creates this environment for us — and some of us swallow it up, hook, line and sinker.
University degrees clamber to invite ‘industry professionals’ to speak to their students in the hope the University might seem that little bit more relevant. Altogether creating an environment of perfectionism — a world where 'the work' must shimmer with a sparkle as it displays itself in a coffin-like portfolio. God-forbid it doesn’t win an award or fit within a certain 'style' (whatever the fuck that means) because it would be production-line fodder if it didn’t win a pencil, pyramid or a phallic-shaped shard of glass that would make my mother-in-law blush.
Graduates leave the production-line machine of academia and run towards a mirage created by their lecturers and perpetuated by 'industry leaders'who sell them on the unpaid internship pathway. A road that is slick from the sweat of people who have been taken for a ride.
In the un-regulated, non-accredited expanse of creative industry, cowboys run their creative businesses without guidance or adherence to principles — or a simple framework for continuous professional development. Under the leadership of peak bodies that, like the Universities that sprouted this mess, fight to stay relevant.
Sometimes we have come to own this title of ‘Precious Little Princesses’because we manifest our own stress as we strive to not let down the leaders we work for. Instead, we should be investing this energy towards our own journey of leadership and entrepreneurship — not investing it in someone else.
And for those leaders who manifest stress downwards - stop and empathise with those that work for you for a moment.
And then we have the fear of what other people think; a fear taught to us by the critical reviews of our work that contributed to our final grades during our university years. The beauty parade folio showings that made some of us feel ugly-duckling-ugly. Instead of powerful in our own ability to stand up and understand what we were capable of.
A fear that is perpetuated by the vacuous awards shows that only those that can afford will enter, and no doubt win, because of fame or dollars. Yet we fear them, admire them and applaud them; if only we all sat and read their shit-for-brains criteria and methods, we’d understand they weren’t to be the awards we should be wanting to win.
And this ever-growing sense of perfectionism that exists within us — a sense to make things 'just so' — and to try and be good at everything, instead of being good at being ourselves, is the weakest excuse for good work, I've ever heard.
It’s no wonder we’ve been labelled ‘Precious Little Princesses’.
We’ve been taught to be afraid of our own shadows instead of being able to see our power in our own humanness.
But imagine this;
A space where you leave each day knowing you were genuinely understood — where your voice is heard. Imagine working with a group of people who inspire you and motivate you to be your best self. A place of work where you are engaged in every step because you benefit both financially and professionally; but also personally because you spend more time with your family, your friends and your own self.
Imagine an education system that taught us about the power of self awareness, failure and the power of the balance between creativity, technology and entrepreneurship.
Imagine an environment where we are simply appreciated for who we are as people. A place where we are accountable and trusted.
A place where this trust exists industry-wide — earned over time through collaborations, sharing of knowledge, principles and practices. A place where we create the desire to honour that trust by continually adding value and teaching what we know — seeing the opportunities and helping one another succeed.
Respected not because we have awards, followers, arrogance, swagger and confidence — but because we have something to contribute, something meaningful to add to the noise despite our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, fears and failure.
Only then can we stop feeling like imposters with something terrible to hide in our creative closets.
Only then can we shed the fear of showing people our work but rather feel empowered and powerful.
Have we completely misunderstood our own version of creativity?
Do we deserve the title of ‘Precious Little Princesses’?