This is how you become an established artist in less than 1 year with a full-time job. (this is a clickbait title)

I'm posting this today because it's my 1 year anniversary since picking up a pen and doing my art. (7th November 2018)

This time last year I picked up a sharpie marker and drew all over my old Dell laptop. It was fun and at the time I thought "yeah this is cool, I'll post it online"

The first piece of work i posted to my Instagram. Before that, all i posted was my face, food and dogs.

The first piece of work i posted to my Instagram. Before that, all i posted was my face, food and dogs.

Let's be honest, it's sketchy as fuck.

At the time I thought it was awesome and I had so much fun doing it, so that's why I posted it to my Instagram.

Because I enjoyed it so much, I just started drawing every day and documenting it on my Instagram.

This wasn’t for validation from followers, not to show off, but to document my work.

1 whole year down the line, this was the best thing I've ever done.

Doing this and getting to this point wasn't easy for me.

How did I do it?

Answer: Self-awareness...

I know what you're thinking... but stay with me.

Creativity is something I've always had deep down, but it only shows through in my life in tiny snippets.

I've never truly committed to anything (this goes for any hobbies, jobs, business ideas and even relationships) and that was down to a few things.

Self-doubt - thinking I wasn't good enough or would ever be good enough.

Fear of criticism - worrying people would call me shit or say I'm doing something wrong.

Fear of the wrong path - worrying I'd chosen the wrong thing, had the wrong opinion, was with the wrong person etc.

A lot of people deal with these things, which I why I wanted to write about it - the fact I'm even writing about something this personal is a challenge for me but hopefully it's appreciated and helps others.

People talk about 'being yourself' all the time. But to someone that gets crippled by these things, it's hard to find out who you really are.

I've lived my life in fear of being criticised, about anything and everything.

I've always been a fence-sitter and tried to fit in.

Fitting in was more important than being me.

Being myself was never something I ever thought was a thing - fitting in, that was where it was at.

So I'd bounce between hobbies/mindsets/opinions/relationships/friends. Basically never truly be my own person.

I'd never talk too loud about my life and I'd avoid becoming the centre of attention at all costs (unless I'd had a beer or 5).

Basically, I was the wettest blanket ever.

Realising this now is frustrating, but also a relief that I'm aware of it now and have been able to improve on it.

The difference between myself then and myself now is having that self-awareness and having the ability to use criticism to benefit my life.

Most criticism is constructive, but people experience snippets of aggressive and negative criticism which makes it hard to decipher which criticism is good and bad.

Self-awareness takes stepping back and analysing yourself, your environment, your friendship groups, your feelings, your career and everything in between.. everything that could ever affect your mental well being.

When I feel down, upset, stressed or crippled by these things, I take 30 seconds to stop and detail in my mind (or on paper) what it is that's caused that feeling. Then work out how I can overcome and react to it in the least negative way. From here, I work out what actionable thing I can do to stop it from happening again - then action that thing. This thing may be a simple adjustment taking 5 mins or it might be something that takes years of work.

This might be splitting from a partner or removing that toxic friend from your life.

It might be doing that one good thing for someone who needs your help or simply picking up a gym membership if your weight is getting you down.

I might seem to be waffling here, that's because explaining self-awareness is hard.

Even the great self-development Guru's like Tony Robbins & Gary Vaynerchuk struggle to nail the definition of Self Awareness.

Self-awareness, in my opinion, means taking time for ourselves away from the plethora of bullshit we are fed day to day, to enable us to think for ourselves and understand how certain things in our lives affect our mental well being. Then taking action to deal with these things to keep that mental well being at a level we're content with.

Understanding what makes you tick and not tick, that's the golden nugget to life I feel.

Self-awareness and understanding criticism is what's got me to where I'm at today in my art career.

Anyway,... After the major waffle above that I hope you enjoyed, the whole point of this post was to let you know that whatever you want to do (as cheesy as it sounds) it's just yourself holding you back.

I've held back all my life and today is my first major milestone of moving forward.

(Excuse any typos, grammar and waffle. I aint a writer!)

Lloyd Coenen