The Ghost of A Creative’s Past: A Look Back on How Not to Be This Holiday Season
I used to be a real jerk. I know that now because I’m not anymore, but true story. I totally would have hated working with me back then. I was pessimistic, cynical, and a few other things that creatives stereotypically get a bad rap for.
Past me scoffed at others’ work — TV, print, you name it. Talked about how I’d do it differently. Better. Ranted how “Their strategy is showing” and other phrases I’d picked up from fellow coworkers I aspired to be like. I wasn’t happy for my colleagues in their successes. I called them out in their mistakes. I acted standoffish, stressed, and busy because that’s what talented folks did. And the holidays? Well, that was a magical time for work martyrdom.
No excuses, that’s 100% on me, but I’ve also found that this industry can exacerbate jerk tendencies — sometimes even teach them. We’re so driven to put out our best work, it can actually bring out the worst in us. It can create a breeding ground of competition and negativity, rearing future generations of new, young jerks ready to continue the cycle.
‘Tis the season to stop that.
I have a theory that people who sweat the small stuff have never actually been through anything big. So, I mean, yay for them, but what a shame to always be pissed at trivial things. And let’s be honest, it’s 2020, so literally no one has that excuse anymore — this year is the definition of “something big.”
“Now me” is by no means a picture of perfection, but after a few unfulfilling years in my career, I did have an epiphany of sorts. So, as a certified ex-scrooge, I feel a duty to share some ways we can make the season a little brighter — pandemic and all.
Holidays are a time for Fam. Including Work Fam.
Y’ALL. Not only are we blessed to be employed during this crazy ass year, we get to work in an exciting industry with a bunch of wonderfully weird people. BUT — one of them will probably mess something up in the next few weeks. I know this because it’s 2020. And it's the holidays. Hustle and bustle meets dumpster fire. But we don’t have to throw gas on it.
You know what works better than passive aggressive emails, or public under-the-bus-throwings? Helping people fix things. Understanding that they’ve got other stuff going on too. And going out of your way to do something that they’ll appreciate and remember. I’ll never forget the times that people have done that for me — and your work fam is all about building on those long-term relationships every day. I’ve got coworkers “siblings” that I equally love but also sometimes want to punch. And for that, I feel very lucky. “Scrooge me” totally missed out on that.
Giving is Mostly About Time.
I’m not just talking about taking time off — but disconnecting from all the things that bring tidings of stress and bah humbugs. This includes social media. Like most (I’m sure), I see at least one post a day that makes me go “wtf?” But why spend that negative energy on strangers when I can be with actual family? Laughing. Making fun of each other. And hanging out all the way, not halfway on my phone. My family — real and chosen — are simply the coolest. And being around them definitely makes me a better person. They will always be bigger than my next big idea. Hell, if I give ‘em enough egg nog, they might even inspire it.
This year is also a great time to shake up our traditional, time-sucking to-dos. Just think of all the hours we saved by not commuting, holiday shopping, or even putting on real pants. How can we share some of that time with people who are now spread more thin than ever?
Good Things Can Come from Bad Ones.
We don’t have to be haunted by the ghosts of our past — especially if we’ve learned and grown from those mistakes. I eventually forgave myself for being a jerk, but I haven’t forgotten. It’s why I’m annoyingly positive today. And for that, YAY!
It’s doubtful we’ll ever fully go back to the way things were before 2020. But, we can still try to make that a good thing — especially for this industry we all love. And in the wake of arguably one of the WOAT years, there’s no time like the present. So, until 2021, my friends — cheers to your silver-linings, jolly good-doings, and all around creative merry-making this season. You can do it!