This is a guest post by Victoria Prozan McGlinn.
The warm breezes of spring are here to herald in new seasons of growth and possibility. Ahhh. As the brown remnants of winter become obscured by the fresh greens and pinks and yellows and whites, take time to consider how we can mirror this rebirth in our own lives.
We all have a story. We actually have many stories. The story of who we are. The story of what we do and what we want. The story of how we got to this moment in our lives. The story of what limits us. Humans communicate through storytelling. The well spun tale is one of the most powerful tools we people carry. It’s how we grow, learn, and explore. It’s crucial to our world.
What happens when those stories, our stories, hold us back instead of propel us forward? What happens when we get stuck in our story? The assumption we make is that these scripts are 100% correct each and every time we recite them, without fail.
Wait, what? They’re not? Sometimes, not.
I got stuck in my story of being a Designer and Maker.
Those capital letters on the titles were my trap. Let me explain.
As a lifelong crafter, raised by parents who also were makers, I decided to pursue making as my life’s ambition. To strengthen my skills, I completed a graphic design degree. I worked hard to earn that degree and after years of investing my time, energy, and money, I launched my business. I was officially a Designer! I screen printed my original designs on paper goods and textiles, mostly the latter. Tea towels, pillows, table runners, note cards and prints. I love making. I love designing. This was the path to the life I had always wanted. Or so I told myself.
As time passed, I could feel something wasn’t quite right. I enjoyed most aspects of what I was doing, but nothing ever felt in sync. I assumed it was because I wasn’t pushing myself enough. I just needed to get over the next hurdle (there is away a next hurdle) and then all would flow in harmony. No matter how I pushed or pulled or manipulated myself, that nagging feeling never waned. I’m a confident and capable designer, I was receiving lots of encouraging feedback, but there was always the wonder of what was missing. It just wasn’t adding up.
I began to unravel my ball of yarn. Many of the pieces and parts were right. Design? Love it, check. Making? Love it, check. Business? Love it, check. Motivation? Um, I’m not sure, I’ll have to get back to you on that.
I began to admit to myself my motivations were out of whack with my authentic self.
I was trying to be a Designer and a Maker (there’s those pesky capital letters again) when what I really wanted was to be a designer and maker.
What’s the difference? The means vs. the ends. My ego wanted my designs be my thing, but only if I got lots of external praise and appreciation. My inner vision wanted helping people to grow to be my thing, with no strings attached. My ambition to be a cool kid designer was not my authentic self. My internal “should” following this path was messing with my program, big time. I was more focused on what I was creating than why I was creating it.
When I was able to see that being a Designer was just a story I told myself over and over, I began to rewrite my story. My focus shifted from my business supporting my design and making to design and making supporting my business.
I pulled in more parts of me. I could see that my years of client relations experience was a valuable strength that I had discounted through yet another story I convinced myself to believe. All of me would be required to make my goals. I now use the entirety of my skills and talents in the pursuit of an even bigger passion of mine. To demonstrate that interconnectedness and empathy in our business and personal lives will create a kinder, more just world.
I dropped my tunnel vision by realizing my design skills and creative talents are the engine that will drive my authentic voice to where I am needed.
So I have a new story. One rooted in soul searching and authentic offerings.
Whatever story you write, read, and believe for yourself, challenge it to be sure it’s true.
And if you find your stories aren’t supporting you in the everyday and in the big picture, craft new ones.
Spring is a time for change. Use the energy of the season to weed out the discord and pain, then plant new seeds of hope, ambition, and kindness.
Plant with love.
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Victoria Prozan McGlinn knows imagination is your superpower. Through it, creativity and empathy are born. She works with businesses to elevate empathy as tool of unlimited change. Find more about her mission here. Say hi on Twitter or Facebook and then unleash your imagination!