I am a survivor of depression.
My entire life I was told by my family and society that I could not survive in this world living off my passion. From a young age, art empowered me to bring inspiration, energy and hope to those around me.
Unfortunately, I was encouraged to take a more pragmatic approach towards my career, and I got exhausted in my struggle to keep myself happy.
Throughout my life, I have often asked myself ‘Who am I and what am I doing with my time?’. Should I just cave in to this ‘advice’ and forget about what I really want?
After I finished my bachelor’s studies in cinematography, I got hired in a small advertising agency doing PPC promotion. Instead of working in the industry I wanted, I embraced a new domain in which I learned by doing. I believe anyone who went through a similar experience can say it’s a struggle.
Being an accomplished professional means that you are proud of your work, that you have earned the respect of your colleagues, peers and have achieved financial satisfaction. I wasn’t anywhere near these elements. I was so far away that I would sometimes wonder ‘Why does my employer even want me here if it’s obvious I’m a failure?’
You could say he had faith in my potential, that he believed I could eventually reach the required level of expertise needed to do my job. That’s how I fell into depression, striving to do my best while feeling like an imposter.
At one point, I lost track of how many nights I had spent staring at the ceiling thinking how to build successful digital campaigns. I was reviewing the knowledge I had gathered and comparing theory with experience. Nothing was making sense to me and that’s how I became a victim of my poor decisions.
Still, what happened with the respect I had earned from my college professors? Did all the hard work I put into being a filmmaker go to waste just for the sake of achieving financial satisfaction?
I remember my parents telling me ‘It’s hard no matter what industry you choose, so try not to be poor.’ The shame I was feeling as an imposter, a failure made me say stop. I had gained and lost a lot of weight while my life was spiralling into chaos. Why was everything so hard? Should a professional face uncertainty daily and show passion for their field no matter how hard the job?
At that moment all these questions converged into one: ‘Who am I?’. Embracing sport helped me rebuild my self-confidence. Taking small but steady steps I began looking for the answer to this question, an answer that had I sacrificed for the sake of making my family and society happy.
I am an artist, I am a filmmaker that should inspire the world with my products. I am not a marketer, I am not an analytical person. I am no longer a fraud. After I confessed this to my boss, he felt sorry for pushing me too far, just because he thought it was cheaper to bring a ‘sub-junior’ level employee rather than bringing an experienced PPC specialist that he needed.
‘How hard could it be?’ was a question I answered the hard way. No matter how hard the battle, I didn’t give up until burnout affected my performance to the point that I was ashamed of everything. If I had directed my potential to fight the battles I was meant to fight, my life could have been a lot different.
It depends on every one of us to find the answer to this question, ‘Who am I?’ Maybe the quality of your work or what job you have matters less to you than a good salary. Maybe respect in the office or acknowledgement is something that you’re not interested in.
I knew that I wasn’t that type of person. Without respect, I couldn’t ‘feel’ I mattered in the environment that I was active as a professional and a human being. I went back to my original field, filled with self-confidence in my abilities.
Now I know this is what gives me drive, respect. The result of your efforts fuels passion. When I went back to video editing, my favourite part of the filmmaking process, I immediately found a job that would give me what I needed the most. Being a world changer and providing inspiration through the content that I produce finally made me whole.
The ensuing battles felt easier to win. Life became easier. Chaos was no longer in my mind. I knew who I was, and for what purpose I was dedicating my time and expertise.
It’s your turn now to find the answers, deep in your core.
Do you know who you are? Does your job give meaning to your life? Are you and your family, colleagues and friends proud of your results?
In my experience, once I rebuilt my self-confidence and started channelling my energy in the right direction, I knew I was feeling what I should to be happy and no longer be suffering from work depression.
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