I’ve been sick at home for the last five days, and during those five days, I’ve actually managed to force myself to sit down and work on fashion pattern making for myself - making basic blocks (bodice/skirt/pants) that can be adapted into endless styles while maintaining fit to my current measurements. This is something I’ve been putting off for months due to my frustration with my current weight, but that’s besides the point.
After completing the basic blocks on Sunday, I began reverse engineering the pattern for a pair of Japanese pleated pants that I’d borrowed from a friend, because I have an upcoming project where I want to do something similar, but an original design. It is now Wednesday, and I’m to the point where I only have a few steps left to completing the pants, but I woke up this morning feeling an acute sense of despair that I haven’t “accomplished anything” in the last week.
Because I didn’t have some new, shiny imagery to post on social media. To get those validating likes that I’m admittedly addicted to - those tiny shots of endorphins that come with the evidence of someone noticing me.
Maybe it’s because I come from a photography background, where creating images has become an near instantaneous process in comparison to what it used to be. All it takes is a click and share on the phone, and you’ve created content for social media. The algorithms on most platforms seem to demand at least a daily upload, and you’re punished if you don’t follow it, whether by exposure to your audience, or that audience leaving. There's a reason so many contemporary creators based in social media have experienced burn out. I’ve only posted 32 landscape images to my main Instagram account since May, and I’ve managed to lose 134 followers in that same amount of time. Maybe it’s because the platform has been purging bot accounts, but maybe it’s because I haven’t been posting every single day, as I’ve been told by ‘experts’ that I need to do in order to grow my follower count. I’ve never managed to acquire that elusive “k” as in “10k+” number, and that’s something that still bothers me.
It’s not hard to feel like I’m accomplishing nothing when my social feeds are inundating me with the spectacular projects of the people I follow, from photography, to illustrations, to fashion design, videos, and more. This feeling is amplified by the fact that I’m learning a new craft, so I’m not even working on creating a haute couture masterpiece of a gown - I’m just trying to make a simple pair of pants. I’ve spent the last two years in school starting from the most basic of sewing, and I still feel like a hopeless beginner. Project Runway shows me designers spitting out incredible gowns in 12 hours - why is it taking me three days to get these stupid pants done?
Logically, I know it’s all about perspective. Renaissance masterpieces weren’t created in three days. Sometimes, they took years. Creative role-models of mine, like @vonwong, spend months planning and executing epic visions with teams of people helping them. A designer takes months to create a collection from start to runway show, and even after that the work continues if they take it to manufacturing. When I listen to fashion business podcasts, the established brands talk about how they took a year or two getting everything together before launching the company. Things of real quality take time, even if it’s the unseen years of training that gets someone to the point where they can create something fantastic in no time at all. I’ve always been a believer in quality over quantity, but social media has definitely become an emotional trap for me. I know it’s wrong, and I should not focus on what others are doing - comparison is the thief of joy, after all. Still, I have anxiety-brain working against me, but at least I can recognize that.
So, creators, how do you feel productive/accomplished? Have you escaped the claws of daily content pressure? Have you balanced it?