Dealing with toxicity in the creative industry.
This is the stuff that no one really ever gets into. Transparency is the key. I’m going to tell you about some of the toxic industry shit you may encounter on your journey and provide some tips and advice to help prepare you. I never had anyone induct me and so when they hit me – they decked me square in the face. It was character building stuff, but it would have been great to have had someone to talk to about these things while it was happening to try and make sense of it quicker.
It absorbed far too much of my energy that would have been better used making some cool artwork – so I’m gonna pass on the baton and give you the heads up.
Every industry has their bad apples, so it will come as no surprise that the creative industry is full of them too. Along the way you’ll meet some amazing and fantastic individuals who you’ll form strong bonds and friendships with; not just about showing up to each others events but genuinely being there for one another. You’ll find plenty of people like this along the way.
However, as we all know…not everyone is like this. How do you deal with opportunists? Users? Frauds? Egotists?
Showing Your Hand Early
It can be tempting to sound off about your ideas before you’ve even executed anything; raving about your plans on social media and telling anyone and everyone who’ll listen (guilty!) However the trouble is, you never really know just who is watching or listening. Although we all know there’s pretty much nothing new left under the sun, you may be feeling like “I’m onto something here!” and man, that’s great. Keep the buzz alive…but you know who else feels like this? That person that watches your stories every day but never talks to you.
If you broadcast this too prematurely, you’re showing your hand and leaving the door for opportunists for others to pip you to the post.
This is a tricky subject to broach – it isn’t so much about the element of competition here – it’s the intent. In a situation like this, still go ahead and carry on as planned; you have your reasoning behind it – whoever decided to steal your idea in an attempt to steal the limelight, will eventually get tired of running around looking for things to steal. But you? You my friend, have great plans for days, because it’s coming from a genuine place that’s ever giving. The heart.
Glory Hunters & Egotists
Fact is, there are some people out here who genuinely want to help others; and then there are those that want to help others to force those people into a state of dependency. The advice I have for dealing with these kind of people is easy.
You are an absolute legend and have no need to depend on anyone to spread your gloriousness. Understand that you deserve to be here and you’ve earned this.
There are people you’ll encounter who can’t fathom the idea of anyone besides them being successful. Or maybe they don’t mind you being great…just not more successful than them, and these kind of insecure egotists are absolutely everywhere. The trick is to pay them no mind because they feed and thrive off your attention. Feeding the beast by continuing to interact with such individuals is a undeniable waste of your time. Your time is precious, ya know.
As a creative worker, especially as a freelancer – you will encounter people who will constantly badger you for freebies. Sometimes they’ll gloss this up and offer promotional posts in return for your time and talent; which we all know is not what you deserve. If you’re starting out you may feel compelled to produce work for free, and if that’s your M.O then that’s entirely up to you. However, if you set the bar too low from the start, that’s where people will meet you at.
If you feel the level of service you provide isn’t enough to warrant compensation – spend time working on your craft, share your work, ask for feedback, then when you’re ready – get back out there and start reaching for what you truly deserve. Absolutely nothing wrong with gifting or providing a free service if it’s what you genuinely want to do – but it’s about gauging when the person you’re doing it for is simply using you and completely taking advantage.
This word is used in so many contexts. (In some cases apt, others not so much). When I think of ‘haters’ I think of those people who leave negative comments all over your posts or who create faceless profiles solely to spread vitriol and fully exert their cowardice.
Hey, no one likes to read horrible comments about themselves or their work. A lot of us artists are sensitive about our shit, after all; but you have to know that these hateful comments say nothing about you, and everything about them.
Whoever took time out of their day to write such terrible things clearly feels shitty about their own work and their own lives and want you to feel the burden of that weight. They can’t bare to carry it anymore so they want to pass it on – that sandbag isn’t yours to carry. They’ve chosen you to pick at – because you have something they are clearly after (which they could have if they had the confidence) but aren’t allowing themselves to access. They feel pants that you’re out there doing bits, so they want you to feel pants too. They’ll pick something they think will really hurt you and go in for the kill. Don’t give them what they want.
That ain’t yo friend…
This one is the toughest of all the pills to swallow. When you believed you had something solid, whether it be a friendship, partnership or what have you, only to realise they never had your back all along is an absolute blow. Happens in all aspects of life, but it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to deal with when it happens. If they have an ulterior motive, it will be revealed and everyone will know about it. The truth has this funny little way of always coming out.
The easy option is to say “cool! I’m gonna turn cold and trust no one since they’re all out to get me.” – again (guilty of saying this to myself at one point during adolescence) but you know what, you are the great person you are and that shouldn’t be tarnished or affected by people who don’t even know themselves.
Keep on existing unapologetically, setting out to achieve all you want from this one life – and understand that people come into your life as either lessons, blessings or both. There’s always something to be learned and always something you can take away from these situations to strengthen you.
You know yourself. You’ve got this.