Have you ever realised that you can use your so called “weaknesses” to thrive? In branding I often use this idea to help clients see their potential to grow and distinguish themselves from others. All those quirks they are usually not so proud of are the most interesting parts of their story that they can use in building their image. Their vulnerabilities and uniqueness hold an opportunity to grow and expand!
Let me tell you a story instead of keeping this conversation abstract.
Three years ago, I was building my career writing a blog, directing brand photoshoots and videos, and creating digital content for social media. But I had a hard time describing to anyone what I did for a living. It made perfect sense to me, but I just couldn’t put one label or job title on it. I was a Mum in High Heels/a Creative Writer/Director/Brand Strategist/ Social Media Consultant – but I failed at putting all this together in one sentence… or, as my marketing mentor was strongly advising me to do, I couldn’t craft a clear sales pitch.
I was in pain; I couldn’t articulate in one sentence what exactly my job was. I kept looking and asking around. There were a few people who got it and were trying to help, but the majority didn’t let me get away and I could see how confused they were.
Not having a title made me feel like I had no identity – and what’s worse, I couldn’t put a price tag on my kind of work, because I didn’t know where to find a reference point. I don’t need to tell you how difficult that felt for me…
Just as I was thinking of giving up, I came across an article about the rise of a new generation of “slashers”. That’s not some sort of horror movie; it is a generation of entrepreneurs who spread their careers across multiple areas. The name comes from the typographic symbol “/” that they use to introduce themselves: they are a decorator/production manager or architect/photographer. Most of the time these are creative roles.
“Combining multiple incomes is not the chief goal of a slasher as most of them still encounter financial difficulties. They therefore don’t choose this way of working through necessity but in order to combine multiple interests, passions and skills… Breaking with traditional patterns of working life allows them to flourish on a personal level.”
– ArchiBat Mag.
After reading several articles on the “slasher generation”, I finally felt like I could breathe again. My head was above water. Why had nobody told me about the slasher generation before; why didn’t my mentor say a word? No one told me that it’s OK to do several different jobs based on your experience, interests, and talents… Instead, everyone kept telling me I needed to choose only one thing. Well, what if I didn’t want to?!
So I kept doing what I loved and I kept learning and growing my skill set – writing, visual storytelling, digital content, video directing and productions. I had to do a lot of jobs for free to become better at what really interested me, but I also did some of those jobs because I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe in and honour my own work, my huge experience, and my talents. And there were still people and companies who were slow to catch up on this whole new generation of creatives.
In the meantime, I came across several interviews with journalists who had been made redundant or simply had to find new jobs because of how the print media landscape has changed. These people were sharing their story of transitioning from print media, radio and TV to blogging, YouTube and podcasts, branding, advertising, and PR. This was another huge relief for me. Apparently I wasn’t alone. Nothing was wrong with me!
As a result, everything changed in my work. I finally started owning my personal brand with all the quirks and twists and skills I could offer when working with clients. My journey came to a point where I stopped apologising for what I do; I suddenly started owning all my titles and spoke up in confidence about my work. I didn’t have to overexplain myself any more. I felt legitimate and for that I have to thank all those brave people who openly and honestly shared their stories with the rest of the world.
And there’s more. Through my pain and weakness I have found my purpose. I get bored easily and I need change, so I never wanted to do only one thing. Through my work as a writer/creative director/brand strategist/content creator/personal image consultant, I am able to encourage people and businesses to find and own their greatness; to become more expressive and confident communicating their worth.
Sometimes people need that one person to see them, to acknowledge their work, to understand and give them permission to be who they are, without necessarily trying to fit them into a preexisting career or job title. What’s important is that everything you do makes perfect sense to you, even if it doesn’t to anybody else – at least at the beginning. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?
And another thing you can learn from the slasher generation (and you might be one of them already): don’t be afraid to do anything, even if you might not be the best at it!
Don’t forget to share your thoughts on the slasher generation. Do you feel you are one of us?
About this outfit:
H&M Dress (Similar here)
Knee Hight Boots, handpicked in a Paris Vintage store
Handbag found on a trift market