Being a woman in the creative and marketing industries can be difficult at the best of times. On top of proving that we are worth the same salaries as our male counterparts, we also carry a disproportionate amount of the mental and emotional load for our families and within our communities. We are being told we can HAVE IT ALL — just Lean In right? What no one tells you is that you can’t — you must make choices and sacrifices every day that affect your career and those around you. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s just not possible to do it all and we need to be okay with that.
So what do we do when we need to make those choices and don’t want to feel alone, isolated or worried about fucking it up? How do we get used to the idea that we WILL fuck it up? How do we curb our perfectionism enough to create more space for learning and more empathy for ourselves?
You talk to other women. You join a women’s group or a book club. You use your “call-your-girlfriend-card.” You find a female mentor. You find other women who are making similar choices and you ask them for advice. You tell each other you’re not crazy and not alone. You share your stories because they help others too.
So here is some of the advice I’ve gotten from the amazing, successful women in my life who have helped me when I was feeling unsure of myself and my decisions. They are mothers, entrepreneurs, launching online academies while raising their kids, leading high performance teams, creating spaces for women to share their stories, working in film and television, or travelling the world as musicians with their small children. I hope this helps reminds you that you don’t need do it all, or do it alone.
- Michelle Cyca, Writer & Editor
“The most useful thing I started doing was keeping a Google Doc of all my accomplishments, like presentations that I got good feedback on, all my publications, whenever I was asked to be a guest speaker, if I contributed to a project, etc. big and small. It’s just for you, so you can put in whatever you want, even if it seems inconsequential or silly. Whenever possible I included numbers too (like, approximately how many people came to my conference session; if publications were willing to give me page views, I added that too). It’s really helpful for both (1) looking back over the year when you’re negotiating for a raise, because you definitely WILL forget some of the amazing things you’ve done and (2) when you’re applying for a new job, it’s a rich well of information. Also it just makes you feel good if you’re ever feeling stuck.”
2. Jasmine Lukuku, Brand Strategist & Actor
“I always come back to a quote from RuPaul… ‘Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back’. I try to remember this any time negative self-talk or self-sabotage starts to sneak in.
3. Jill Barber, Musician
“Mark Twain said it best: ‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Of course, it’s a damn lie, but I love the spirit of this quote. When you love what you do you’ll work your ass off gladly because it’s also feeding your passion. The trick is figuring out what you’re most passionate
4. Carley Mendes, Holistic Nutritionist and Founder of Oh Baby Nutrition
“I’ve noticed that if I have to ask too many people to weigh in on something, then I probably don’t really believe in it myself. When I’m sure about something I don’t need approval from anyone else. It just feels right and I go with it.”
5. Steph Corker, of The Corker Co.
“Be where your feet are and acknowledge what makes your heart beat faster. Nothing works well when you are one foot out the door or only a big toe in the proverbial deep end. So wherever you are, be all there. Yet recognize what gets you excited in the morning because enthusiasm is not a renewable resource — don’t you dare go taking a great idea for granted! Move your feet and elevate your heart rate in the direction of your enthusiasm!”
In the last few years, I’ve moved away from productivity hacks and delved more into unpacking troubling worldviews I’ve inherited or learned. One of them is opportunity hoarding — that there are only a few amazing gigs and those need to be fought over, kept secret, and saved (traditionally for dudes!). When I learned to approach the world with a Culture of Plenty in mind, this opened up everything. Acknowledging different levels of privilege and experience, there is still PLENTY of work and opportunity for us all, especially if we collaborate. The work may look different, feel different, or come at different times in our lives, but there can be enough for everyone. This concept has inspired me to hire folks out of my network, put myself up for gigs I didn’t feel right for at the time, and think about different modes my work could live in.
7. Therese Hayes, Brand & Communications Strategist.
“I have been fortunate to enjoy a career that spans a number of roles and industries — the variety is wonderful as it translates into continuous learning and provides the opportunity for cross-pollination. This also means that I have joined and left many companies. It is a bit of a universal truth that beginnings are wonderful. Most relationships, work or personal, start out really well. Endings on the other hand are not always as easy as often the timing is not ideal for at least one of the parties involved. The trick is to understand that and to try to move through the process gracefully. Focus on what worked, the contribution you made and remember what it felt like when you started. Your ability to do this will stand by you and create a strong network of people that you can collaborate with as you move through your career.”
On establishing a career as a creative: “The work you have done will influence the work you do in the future. Choose projects, jobs and clients carefully, and only share the type of work you would like to do more of.”
On how to succeed as an independent designer: “Find like minded clients.”
My advice? Go talk to the women in your life. They know things!