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Creating a Confidence Cache

by Taylor Slattery | April 26, 2021

Working as a creative requires thick skin. Our creations are a direct reflection of our tastes and abilities. We’re constantly putting ourselves in vulnerable positions by sharing our ideas and asking others to judge them. Because there are no right and wrong answers, when our ideas are rejected it can sometimes feel like a rejection of ourselves. It can be hard not to take things personally, especially when it’s an idea we’re particularly fond of.

We don’t have time to sulk over our shortcomings, though. Our work is a product after all and to ensure we deliver, we need to take our personal feelings out of the equation. But when it feels like the losses are stacking up and we’re just not hitting our stride, moving past our failures is easier said than done. Where do you turn when you need to function like a well-oiled machine but your self-confidence has been thrown into question?

Creative ruts are like quicksand. The more you struggle, the more they pull you in. Before you know it, the cumulative effects have manifested in a mental barrier, a force blocking you from creating your best work. What you need is an escape plan you can count on to get you out of that place and restore your confidence. What you need is a confidence cache.

You need a place to store evidence of your creative value and growth. In times of need, it will serve as a reminder that you can and will continue to improve. Portfolios are great at demonstrating our capabilities to clients, but they’re missing a key component necessary for a confidence cache. They only reflect where we are currently, not how much we’ve grown to get there. They don’t show us the journey.

Rather than a highlight reel, what we need is more like a training montage. A reminder of all of the hard work we’ve put in and the growth we’ve experienced as a result. It should include everything we’ve managed to achieve and all the steps it took to get there. When we look at our confidence cache we should be reminded that the journey is long and our current position is temporary.

Whether a folder on your computer or a box under your bed, make a place for yourself you can fill with mementos of the journey. Include everything from your earliest, most cringe-worthy work to the pieces you’re most proud of. This could also take the form of a journal where you keep notes of all of your eureka moments, accomplishments, and shortcomings. All of the little things that add up to paint a picture of the journey.

The idea is to demonstrate growth. That’s what it’s all about. When you’re stuck in a rut it’s easy to feel like things are out of your control. But you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit. Sometimes, to find the energy to push forward, all you need to do is turn around and see just how far you’ve come.

Whenever you’re in that dark place and need a reminder of who you are and what you’re capable of, pull out your confidence cache. Marvel at your tremendous growth and take the time to give yourself a sincere pat on the back. Once you’re feeling refocused and ready, put it away and get back to work.


Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.


This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

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