In The Particular Lies The Universal
Just before lockdown 1.0 I found myself having a bit of a “mid-career crisis”. Freelance work had become brittle and I was staying in cheap hotels a few days a week in London and was away from my family. On one hand I had clients but more and more projects were getting cancelled before they got started and income was becoming less secure as the months went by and loneliness had set in.
If I’m honest it was coming – I had been working for 14 years – most of which driving my own ship and I was looking for a way out or a change. I was doubting my passion, I wasn’t happy and didn’t really like what I was really doing.
At the time I was being courted by a new shiny tech startup. One who had lovely digs in London, offered remote working opportunities to save me travelling 4 hours a day to and from work, share options, pensions and all the glitter you expect from a trendy new startup. My head was turned, there were whispers about the virus about to hit our shores and there was fear and uncertainty in the air. I decided to leave freelance life behind me for a more secure future – I would serve only a few support-based clients and go full-time. Three months, several anxiety attacks and an ambulance call later I was made redundant. What was dressed as a dream change was one of the most suffocating experience of my career. It wasn’t the product I was helping to create things for, not so much the people but the environment was toxic and not for me. I had lost autonomy, my nerve and my voice.
A friend of mine, Mark Shayler had started doing live Instagram casts helping people through Qigong – a rhythmic form of slow-moving meditation and focus. I had my three boys at home and my niece all trying to be home-schooled and not kill each other so I needed some sort of escape. I met Mark at a few Do Lectures events and he mentioned he was doing a similar thing of live talks for free. A whole day of inspirational chats, lectures and interviews which I had to watch. The “keynote” speaker was a designer I greatly admire for his bold, thought provoking work, James Victore.
James spoke about finding your weirdness and using it to drive your passion and your life’s work. To have a voice, take risks, play and e truly creative. He spoke about a new weekly online mentoring course of which he’d take creative people on a journey of self-discovery and turn into Creative Warriors. Here was a hero of mine willing to help me from across the pond to be a better creative. I was all in.
After the first session James had a few of us in tears. He was welling up. There we were, 20+ creative people; Artists, designers, gamers, dancers, poets, coaches. All amazing people on a journey from all over the world with stories to share about self-doubt as a designer and how it messes with your brain.
James spoke every week about his struggles and how In The Particular Lies The Universal a term used by James Joyce that explains that in my individual experience is something that other people relate to. My struggles were everyone else’s. We all just want to be loved and do work that matters to us and the world. James explained to us how he deals with those voices of self-doubt and fear and embraces them to push his ideas.
I was back freelancing – the clients I told I was moving on greeted me back like old friends and James had my back. My wife was commenting on how happy I seemed. I had started pushing ideas on clients and pushing design for myself. Scratching the itches I had and finding ways of putting this ‘voice’ into client work. My kids were even getting involved, painting more and playing in the recycling bin – just playing and creative cool things. My social network accounts were lighting up with designers I was friends with, college tutors and past colleagues expressing how they were inspired by what I was doing and it helped them push their own work – In The Particular Lies The Universal.
In The Particular Lies The UniversalJames Joyce
Do great work, for great people
This is now my purpose. To express myself and play with ideas for great clients and when I can do my own thing. Two incredible, creative people have helped me realise what it is to be a creative person, the pitfalls this entails and the tools to deal with things like self-doubt and the inner critic.
I encourage anyone going through career crisis to speak to a life coach like James Victore and really evaluate what you’re doing with your life and if your chosen path is truly serving your soul like creative work does mine.
As mentioned, this post probably resonates with you in some way. If it does I have included some resource links below for you to check out. Let me know if they help.