Feeling Like You’re Too Slow
One of the most dissatisfying things about being a creative person surrounded by successful creative people is feeling like you aren’t achieving progress because what you’re gaining isn’t at the same height as what your friends and colleagues have. And it’s something I see and hear all the time from others.
The straight dope is that I look at what I have achieved and compare it to, say, Jason Morningstar, Fred Hicks, Cam Banks, Kenneth Hite, Robin Laws, Matt Forbeck, Luke Crane, Jeff Tidball, the Dungeon World peeps (to name only a few of the people who I look up to due to their achievements), I fall pretty fucking short, that my creative life is stuck in 3rd while everyone else is cruising in 5th. That feeling makes me want to plot all sorts of crazy shit to “catch up” — or, if we’re going to unpack that sensation with some honest here, it makes me want to somehow feel like I have a portion of the relevance in the world than they do.
I see that struggle from relevance from others not unlike me, at least in feeling this way. Some are all trying so hard to make their first game into something bigger than it is, and others busting themselves on trying to create a whole line when their audience is small. I know what wanting that feels like, so I’m sympathetic to those drives. And if you’re one of those people, I have hope that you’ll get what you’re struggling for.
But I also wince when I see those moments, because I know the anguish that goes with it. The feeling like you’re fucking it up because you’re not hitting a speed you perceive is the “right” one. In those moments, I remind others (in no small part to remind myself):
- Skills take time to hone
- Audiences take time to build
- Moving forward slowly is still moving forward, not standing still
- It’s okay not to break out with your first published work; that’s what trying again is for
- Keep your eye on tomorrow
The last one reflects my time spent planning my suicide, and in that time feeling like I needed to rush to make Some Crowning Achievements. I now take a pill every day that helps me have a tomorrow, so I take advantage of that emotionally. I no longer look at trying to reach whatever perceived level of “internet notoriety” on a short timetable, because that is the path to disappointment and burnout.
I promise you that you’re moving forward, even if you can’t feel it.
(If you think I’m talking about you, then I might be. But the person who gave me the impetus to write this is the same as this post’s author.)