Let's talk adolescence.

Often embarrassing

A time many of us are glad to have put behind us.

Except that when it comes to our work, we haven't.

And it's in this awkward, in-between stage that we're most likely to get stuck as creators.

Our work’s adolescence mirrors our own.

When we first start creating, we’re aware our work isn’t all that good.

Like toddlers we find our feet, playing with the basic building blocks of our craft, doing our best to piece them together.

With time, our work improves, but...
While we've outgrown childhood, we're nowhere near mature.

In adolescence, we may have mastered the tools of our craft, but our immaturity still shines through in ways we might not realize.

Others, however, certainly do.
Our work is technically solid, but the ideas behind it lag behind.

They’re awkward, gangly, poorly thought out & inarticulate.

We spend a good deal of time remixing what we’ve learned from others, keeping our own insights hidden & adding little to the conversation ourselves.
As if back in high school we’re hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing.

We measure our work against theirs & avoid straying too far from the norm.

If we want to reach the next level, however, we need to move past this stage of development.
The defining attribute of adolescence is lack of experience.

Which means the antidote is to gain as much & as varied experience as you can.

No one would expect a 14-year-old to commit to a college major or career, after all.
A productive adolescence is about experimenting, gathering & synthesizing information about where we have the greatest opportunity to contribute.

We might be clear on the niche we want to operate in but our mediums & formats should be experimented with liberally.
The time will come to commit and double down on what we uniquely bring to the table.

But not until we’ve thoroughly explored and experimented with the available options.

Too many creators commit too early & end up pushing a boulder up a hill doing work not suited to them.
As we mature, we find our voice, expand our vocabularies, & develop defendable opinions.

We go from passive absorbers of information to contributors to the conversation in our field... along with more than a few gaffes, missteps & blunders.

These are not mistakes, however.
The only real mistake we can make in adolescence is not speaking up, not asserting our views, not experimenting & exploring the world that is open to us.

This process, while uncomfortable, confusing, and at times even embarrassing is the only way through to maturity.
No matter how awkward, gangly, or uncomfortable in the moment, if we keep moving forward, adolescence ends.

In fact, there comes a point where the growth can simply no longer be contained & we emerge more confident, centred, sure of the place we and our work occupy in the world.
Adolescence might be frustrating.

But it’s a natural and unavoidable phase of life.

What’s more, it’s when we truly become ourselves.

I think that’s something to be cherished.

Adulthood will come soon enough. But until it does, live.
Explore, experiment, break the rules and rebel.

Create with abandon and above all else, don’t forget to have fun with it.

That’s what being young is for, after all.
Thanks for reading friends!

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Don't forget, you're doing awesome work. Keep at it and give it the time it needs to mature.

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