It has often been my way to play things safe, be pragmatic and not to push too far out of my comfort zone too quickly. However 2019 has been a transitional year thus far for myself, and I finally feel like I am coming into my own more. Warning this blog is of a more personal nature linking back into personal development, if you struggle to digest emotional content please feel free to skip, you have been warned!
Over the last 6 months or so I have began to really take it upon myself to move out of being seen as a 'junior' within my various disciplines and allowing myself to finally start shaking off the ever dreaded 'impostor syndrome' that we all suffer from time-to-time. It is easy to end up in a position where you come to work, do what is required, head home, sleep, rinse and repeat. It happens to us all the longer you work with the same employer. I will freely admit that at the beginning of 2018, this is where I was at, going through the motions and being stuck in a rut. Thankfully it was picked up on by others within the team and I was supported out of the rut. We work in a flexible and diverse way and, when they align with our company goals, are encouraged to pursue our interests. So I have begun to open myself up to following some personal passions that I know link back in with what we do.
Previously, I had been focused solely on the development of skills needed to do the job that I was currently doing. In fact this caused my professional growth to slow, as I was not seeing opportunities outside of my bubble. As I’ve said, I was lucky enough to have a strong support network, professionally and personally, that helped me realise that my personal drivers should very much be part of my working life as well.
I began to look into other creative areas in the technology sector, such as the games industry, an area I have always had a passion for but that always felt just out of reach. I started to reach out to games studios that we have connections with at work and started to make my face more known in those community circles. At first it was more about saying: 'hi I'm here! I don't work in the industry but I am really interested in supporting where I can.' This has meant that I have been able to slowly build relationships with people in various studios and in turn gotten those studios involved in work related projects.
Being comfortable to put yourself out there and into new communities, or putting yourself forward to work on new projects is never easy (especially if you are historically introverted, like I am). But from putting my face in view of the communities I wanted to work with, I have already done that hard part. We all have a day job, requirements that must be fulfilled to be shown to be doing your job. But if you have freedoms to explore new industries, you should take the time to see how your passions can be applied within your role - you never know, they could actually benefit your business. In doing this you will be able to create a case as to why you should be involved in these industries, speaking to these people or attending these events. I will grant that this is largely dependent on your management team above you and their ability to be open minded to new opportunities. But in most instances, with a strong case linking back to the business, you will find that you will be able to bring your passions into your work life.
To many this will seem like common sense, but I am aware of so many people new to working who are unable to see that - if you are in a creative role, or creative business - being able to explore your passions is encouraged. It is all too common a mistake to think that you need to come to work, do what is asked and then go home. While there will always be an element of that (and I too was one of these people) realising that creative people need creative outlets is the first of many steps to allowing yourself to have a far more fulfilling career. Allow yourself time to develop skills in areas of personal interest, even if it means doing it at home in the beginning. Those skills will be of value to the business you work for, making you a more valuable member of your team and making your business more versatile in the process.
I am by no means at a point where I am comfortable taking high stakes risks, but I believe that I have come a long way in the last 6+ months. I’ve pushed myself to work with industries that I not only want to work with, but that I believe we as a business should be working better with. I am beginning to define my role into what I need it to be in order to be able to do the best I can. I am in a great position - as are my colleagues and the whole technology industry - where we are exploring new things every day. The only way we can truly make an impact is by allowing ourselves to follow the passions we have and work towards achieving our collective goals with the support of a good team.