I’ve been thinking a bit over the past week about how I can best honor International Women’s Day. I don’t know why we need one particular day to celebrate our amazingness, but I’ll just go with it.
Besides supporting some female-centric companies doing good, (Girls Inc, Rethreaded, FabScrap to name a few), I decided to shed light on an issue I think many young women like myself face - the insecurities that come with owning your creative power in the time of social media.
I think half the battle of becoming who you want to be is just declaring it. But how much of that declaration needs to be made to the outside world and how much to yourself? This can get very muddled up when so much of our perceived personality is highlighted in little image squares or 280 characters. I think deep down we all know that’s not where true creativity lies, but it’s an important facet of showcasing our work and making connections.
To me, being online means sending your energy outward. And our society asks so much more of women already, it’s no wonder we feel the pressure to show the world we’ve produced something.
When in reality, I think creativity usually strikes when we’re able to look inward. It’s such a fine balance that I’m still figuring out. Even for this post, the thought popped into my head, “ah, should I research this and see what OTHERS are saying?” but in the end I decided, naw. I gotta go with my gut and write what I know to be true.
What do you do to find balance as a creative woman while using social media as a necessary tool to make relationships and share your work? I’d love to know.
Five ways to own your creative power in the age of social media:
Get off those interwebs and listen to other women talk.
Sounds simple enough, but it’s sometimes hard to start this from zero. Look for collaborative events that brands are sponsoring, women-focused speaker series on eventbrite, or pop-ups your favorite female makers are hosting. Some creative female-focused FREE events I’ve attended in New York have been held by companies I wouldn’t immediately seek out, from corporate offices to bookstores. My current favorite creative spaces for women in NYC are NWS, Vertex and The Wing. This in-person connection is VITAL. Emerging from the fog of self-doubt can be solved by simply talking to others.
Read a book and write down your actionable steps.
Really, just do something good for yourself by taking a little time out of your day to read a few pages of a book that will pump you up. Even though it’s a solitary activity, I swear, reading a good book is one of the times I feel most connected to others. When an author is that vulnerable and relatable, it’s like they’re in the room with you. Some creative books by women I recommend are You are a Badass, Big Magic, Choose Wonder Over Worry, The Creative Habit and this book coming out in August that I can’t wait to read.
Give up the labels that are outdated tropes for women who want to pursue a creative life.
You won’t make money in a creative career. You need to go to school to be an artist. You’ve got to hustle to gain that huge social media following and established “brand.” There’s only so much room at the top, so being better than other women is key. Only THEN will what you create be meaningful.
Those are the tired tropes that can consume us again and again when we look outward and online to see how others have “made it.” It will be an endless chase if we choose to live a life like that. Stay focused on the work, rather than credentials and likes.
Remember that it’s OK to only want to share the finished product, not every detail and thought.
It’s no secret that sharing behind the scenes content can boost your engagement on social media. A lot of the “real” stuff creatives post consists of time-lapse videos of a project, pre-launch meetings and messy desks covered in paint tubes and cut out bits and bobbles.
While I love seeing the BTS of an individual’s or company’s work and getting a little insight into their thought process, having to constantly expose that part of yourself can be a drain on your creative energy. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just step away from sharing all of this. It’s your ride. You’re allowed to keep it to yourself.
Leggo of the ego.
That doesn’t rhyme, but you know I had to try it. All I’ll say about this is that I started a wheel throwing class and I’m the only one in there, by day three, who still can’t make a bowl. I’ve scrapped about twenty pieces of clay by now. I can’t figure out if my wheel should be spinning left or right (the curse being a left-handed writer with some right-handed hobbies). AND I’m pretty sure the teacher thinks I’m insane.
But what keeps me going are two things: the fully female class that is rooting for me and my sense of freedom from expectation. I leave my ego at the door. Seek knowledge and help, not prestige, and I promise…you will make that bowl.