Stop squeezing yourself where you don’t belong
After realizing the bad fit, a friend of mine going through a career transition said, “I wasn’t just a square peg in a round hole. It was a really small hole.” She had been flexible, limitless even, and had rightfully tried something new, but thank God she got out before she’d contorted any further, to the point of losing her creative identity.
You see, flexibility is good. I’m always challenging creatives to take risks, to stretch themselves and to carve new niches. But equally important is being aware of when you’ve passed flexible and have become so malleable that you’ve made yourself fit where you don’t actually belong.
How do you know when you’ve gotten too stretchy? You’ll know because instead of feeling at home in your new space, you feel increasingly out of place. You’ve stretched too far when:
- The things you bring to the table politely get cleared off of it and never assimilated. Instead, you’re asked to swallow whole new philosophies that share less and less in common with your own.
- Your talents are painted to look more like liabilities instead of assets. As a result, you find yourself toning down to the point where you’re almost completely colorless.
- You begin to feel less and less excited about going to work versus more and more enthusiastic about opportunities presented to you.
- No one in your new surrounding resembles you, not in the least bit. Originality is great but isolation is not. Though you are unique, you should be surrounded by at least one or two others who “get you” or think similarly to you. If not, then you probably haven’t found your crew.
- Your big ideas are shot down so frequently you’re starting to actually believe you’re delusional. Everyone needs their plans scaled back a bit from time to time for feasibility, but never stay somewhere that has you constantly doubting the largeness of the vision you see for your life or for what you can bring to the world. Being somewhere where people are perennially small minded and short sighted or simply stuck in their ways is absolutely dangerous.
My friend was lucky because she got out quickly. But many of us ignore the signs and stick it out to the point where we forget we were square pegs in the first place. We begin to fit more and more into the tiny round hole that we turn into the wrong, but oh so accommodating shape. Don’t let that be you.
Change is good and sometimes it hurts. Nevertheless, always examine your growing pains and make sure they’re not from over stretching.Read More »