I’ve balanced identities as a game dev, speaker, artist, product designer, and writer for many years now. I enjoy this variety, as it gives me the space to explore and find inspiration from different sources. Over time, I’ve figured out which of these activities I want to earn money from, but I occasionally hear that more of my interests could be monetized.
My myriad interests also don’t fit neatly into a box. Tons of influencers have refined their online identities so well that they have a single focus. I’m not great at packaging myself for one audience. I often feel pressure to do so.
Here are some of the affirmations I tell myself in response to these feelings:
Focus less on others’ perceptions of you and more on your needs.
It doesn’t matter if others are interested in what you’re doing. Your enjoyment comes first. There will always be someone else who is just as interested in something as you are; find as many of those people as you can.
Some things can just be for you.
Social media has trained us to share all of our interests for the sake of additional content. You don’t need to broadcast everything about your life.
It’s okay to be boring sometimes.
Everyone has basic moments. You don’t always have to be doing something innovative. If you live every moment of your life at an extreme, you won’t have the downtime to remember the highlights.
It’s okay to be bored sometimes.
Mental rest, or boredom, can result in anxiety due to the pressures of our capitalist world. Rest creates energy. You need the energy to create.
You don’t need to monetize everything.
A hobby that you monetize is a job. Don’t create too many jobs for yourself or you’ll be stressed all the time. Learn to enjoy some things for the sake of enjoyment. Find a job that pays you enough to protect your hobbies from capitalism.
You may not always have opportunities, but you always have choices.
Regardless of the cards we were all dealt at random, we all have agency over our actions. You may not have the same privileges as others, but that doesn’t have to stop you from finding ways to do what you enjoy.
There’s a difference between self-doubt and self-defense.
Self-doubt prevents you from doing or finishing cool things. Self-defense prevents you from harm. Protect yourself whenever necessary, but don’t let insecurities stop you from trying something new or quitting something just because you’re not good yet.
You don’t have to keep doing things if you stop enjoying them.
Screw sunk cost fallacies: quitting is a great skill, and we should all learn how to quit things. There’s nothing wrong with being a quitter sometimes. If you spend your time on things you no longer like, you’ll miss out on new activities you might like more.
Don’t be a perfectionist.
Nothing in life is perfect. Trying to be perfect will prevent you from ever being happy.
You must define “enough” for yourself.
There will always be the option to do more or to try something new. You can accumulate numerous new hobbies, careers, and relationships in life. Decide what matters to you most and recognize what your own fulfillment looks like.
In this panel, we will hear from Staff and Principal Designers who’ve managed to stay on the IC track while growing their careers. We’ll get into some of the day-to-day nitty-gritty of what it means to be a Staff Designer or Principal Designer, and how to make this role a reality within your organization.