What am I doing with my life?
Most of us will struggle under the weight of that great, big question at various points throughout our lives.
Amber Rae knows the feeling well. A few years ago, the writer, artist and entrepreneur quit her job at a tech company in San Francisco and moved across the country to find her true calling. Along the way, she wrote about her experiences, became a bit of a social-media influencer and launched several projects meant to promote creative thinking. She also partnered with marketing legend Seth Godin on his book publishing experiment, The Domino Project.
Rae, 30, participated in a live chat on the site Product Hunt Thursday where she addressed some of the big questions that hold people back from pursuing their creative dreams. Here’s what she said:
On overcoming doubt
Rae says self-doubt is a constant force in her life. The difference now is that she’s able to see it as an asset rather than a liability. In fact, when it’s not there, she worries.
“When I look at anything meaningful I've ever done, there's always an ocean of self-doubt that required me to dip in my toe, feel it out, and eventually dive in,” she said. “Not having self-doubt feels way more scary to me, as that'd indicate I don't care enough or I'm not diving deep enough to pull up the best treasure possible.”
On tapping one’s creativity
Rae advocates doing the “Morning Pages” exercise popularized by author Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. This means starting every day by writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts. The goal is to clear the mind and bring focus to the day.
She also advocates ditching expectations.
“As difficult as it is, aim to not attach myself to the outcome and how others receive my creativity. It's a marathon, and the more hung up I get about what doesn't work out, or what other people don't like, the less space I have to step into what I can't yet predict or imagine.”
On rebounding from failure
Rae admits that she used to be a “silver lining-aholic,” avoiding disappointment by ignoring it. It didn’t work. Now, she finds it more effective to embrace it.
“I'll make myself some tea, grab my journal, and let myself have space to feel into and express the pain I'm feeling. (Some of my most raw creativity actually comes from that place.)”