By Yohan Wadia, senior creative designer, Wavemaker MENA
The very word ‘creative’ brings about a mixed bunch of reactions amongst people. People’s perception of creativity is to think outside the box, to come up with dynamic ideas for the mundane day-to-day activities and, most importantly, to stand out from the clutter. Similarly, working as a creative in the media/advertising business brings about a mixed bunch of reactions as well. There are several times I find people whose lives revolve around Powerpoint slideshows and Excel sheets staring into my screen completely awestruck with eyes gleaming like a child’s. They tell me, “You must absolutely love your job.” Well, of course, I do, that is the very reason that drags me out of bed every day. Being confronted with a new challenge every day is a part of the thrill and is what I am driven by every single day. However, what most people fail to identify is what gets them back home, what gets them back to themselves.
As creatives, we live an extremely dynamic life. It’s fun, unpredictable, highly satisfying and at the same time stressful and demanding, and all of this often leads to burnouts. It is a misconception that burnouts are only caused due to stress. I personally feel that too much of anything would burn you out, even if it is that one thing that you love doing the most. Hence, it is extremely important to diversify ourselves as creatives and pursue more than one creative stream. A lot of creatives I know have more than one creative skillset. Some of the ones I know are photographers, some of them are artists, while some of them are musicians.
I started off my career in a visual effects company in India back in 2007. Most of my colleagues back then did not have a creative background. Animation and visual effects were at their absolute peak back home and people enrolled themselves in institutions that promised them placements in some of the best studios in town. Nevertheless, although most who gave it their best shot and struggled did get to where they were promised, many found it extremely difficult to sustain themselves in the industry due to maddening deadlines and stressful environments. Had they been guided back then and had been given an opportunity to channelise their creativity in other forms, it might have helped them sustain a longer and more promising future in the industry.
I’m not saying that is the way every single company worked back then, but none of them had kept a check on the personal development of their employees as many companies do today. Today, we are fortunate to be living in a time where personal growth and development are given as much emphasis as the growth of the company is. Companies have started to realise that the only way to the top is together.
It has been just over a year since I felt like I seriously needed to diversify myself into another activity that I was highly passionate about besides designing, and hence decided to pursue music. Well, I have always been able to let people know I was in the bathroom without having to lock it. It is my arena, my opera, where nobody judged me or made me feel any different other than what I felt about myself. I enrolled myself for guitar lessons, hummed a couple of melodies, started writing my own songs and there we go! I had a whole different side of me that I had to develop. It was a newfound passion and it felt so good. I had to start over and got a chance to relive the struggle, the anxiety, the excitement that had enveloped me when I had just started pursuing design, back when I was in high school.
Pursuing this new side of me taught me an extremely valuable lesson. It reminded me that we the creatives live for the struggle. There is absolutely no satisfaction in lying dormant. What we need is a fine little break and we are good to get back into the grind.
Pursuing my newfound love has made me visit places I never would have visited. It has made me meet people I never would have met and it has given me a stage that I could never have imagined to be at the centre of. This is what having a second creative outlet helps you with. It helps you to balance the opportunities, so that when the magic juice oozing out of one stream depletes, you have another source to quench your thirst with. It helps you maintain equilibrium and remain sane.
A question I always laugh about at interviews is: “How well can you handle stress?” While stress is an inseparable part of our daily lives, which we may or may not be able to handle well, the question we need to ask companies is that what they are doing to curb stress.
Not many people are born into this world knowing exactly what it is that they need to do. Nonetheless, there is one thing for sure, and that is everybody is born creative. I believe everybody can pursue something that is so deeply gratifying that it has the ability to divert people’s minds for a while, disconnect from the repetitive activities they may be engaged with and help them reconnect with themselves on a deeper level. This is not just something that creatives have the ability to do. It is something every single one of us can manifest.
Fortunately, for me, my workplace and my team have been highly supportive when it comes to pursuing my dual lives. However, luck does not solely play a part in this as much as structure, discipline and time management do. In the creative industry, you’ll rarely hear someone tell you exactly what time you need to be on your desk or what time you can step out for your break. Yes, the workload may be crazy and your inbox may be overflowing, but it is also us as individuals to blame and not solely the work you’ve been piled up with. Realistic expectations need to be set between the members of the teams and deadlines need to be met. That is the very secret of a happily-ever-after employee-company relationship.
Stop what you are doing on your desk for a second, keep this magazine aside and sign yourself up for that one thing you’ve been wanting to do for the longest time and have not been able to because you simply cannot make time for it.