Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Embracing the New You

When you've been stuck somewhere, whether it be a physical location, or a job, or even a state of mind or action - it's easy to cling to it no matter how much it might be the exact opposite of where you want to be. While this seems like it could very well be counter-intuitive, humans are incredibly adaptable beings. We're practically the only animal on the face of the earth that can actually manipulate our surroundings to be something homey and familiar. When a tiger is placed in a iron cage, it can't plant trees and make it seem like a jungle. When we're placed in a cubicle, we can decorate our bland grey fabric walls or put up pictures, we can sneak off to play facebook games or play Words With Friends in the bathroom on our iphones. Humans are really sneaky in that we find ways to make threatening or new environments very, very familiar.

However, when you are on the cusp of moving onto towards your dream, towards something bigger and greater and more YOU, it can be very scary. Our minds will play tricks on us and you'll do whatever you can not to move forward towards the new. When you've finally succeeded in getting that new position or have landed a solo show or got admitted to the school of your dreams or got juried into some giant convention that's far away, you are now suddenly thrown into a situation that is unfamiliar. You're probably used to playing in the minor leagues, and now you're playing against hall-of-famers and your own idols. You're selling your prints next to the biggest names in the art world or you now have to figure out how to quickly produce thousands of handmade items you used to make yourself. Whatever it is, when you're getting close to your goal, new situations, unfamiliar terminology, different and new challenges will appear - and these are all things that make you want to run away and cower behind your old desk, your old job, your old familiar surroundings. To paint how you've always painted, to do things as you've done before, just so we won't have to face the new. But if you continue to do so as you've always done before, you will never embrace the awesomeness that you were meant to be.

It's okay, anything new is always a bit scary. However, we can't let the fear stemming from these new challenges inhibit our success.

You see, it's the Old You that doesn't know how to source national distributors, or how to navigate an international licensing contract. The Old You doesn't know what the art director for the Times wants, or how to manage a team of Disney animators. Perhaps the Old You doesn't know what its like to show in a group show, or how to fill out a call-for-entries form for Spectrum, or what it's like to vend at a craft fair. No matter what level you're on, stepping up to the next evolution of You is frightening, but remember that it is the Old You that doesn't know these things.

The New You, the successful one, is the one that has figured it out. Sure, there might have been momentary set-backs, stumbling points, and a steep learning curve, but you're now one step closer to your ultimate dream. Don't balk from the opportunity to dance with the stars or paint with the legends if you get that opportunity. Maybe you're not ready, but say "yes" anyway. Don't let yourself talk your way out of evolving towards your dreams because you're scared of what might happen. Ever notice that in epic sagas, the hero is always in over their head until the very end, when somehow, some way, they manage to exceed everyone (including their own) expectations of themselves and save the day? It's because that's the way it works. You evolve by stepping up to the plate and getting things done one step at a time.

Let go of the Old You and prepare to evolve a step. While it'll be scary, and can very well be difficult, the rewards are also always that much more amazing and plentiful the deeper the plunge you're willing to take. Now embrace the New You and let's get to work.