The Cost of Success: A Junior's Perspective
Words by Phoebe Sloane. Illustrations by Aicha Wijland and Matt Bladin.
We’re fearful of burnout, yet hungry for opportunity. As the next generation of creatives, we are trying to figure out what we want from our careers… and our lives, basically. We’ve observed that the ‘life’ in work/life balance is, at times, non-existent and we’re listening to our industry talk about our people’s poor mental health (something we’re all too aware of).
As we eagerly follow in the footsteps of those senior creatives above us, we’re noticing that the quest for creative glory appears to consist of tumultuous frustration and exhaustion. This has perhaps made us look at our purpose as creatives more closely; and maybe some of us are re-assessing our priorities and ambitions. We might be even asking ourselves if these coveted awards are really worth it. Is the Lion beginning to lose its lustre?
It’s not because we’re a lazy bunch of millennials who don’t give a shit, it’s exactly the opposite—we do care. We care a lot. As most of the world knows, our generation has needs, and many of them revolve around us feeling good about who we are and what we do.
Perhaps we are also succumbing to modern society’s pressure to ‘look successful’. Call us insecure, but the reality is we’re hyper-sensitive - we take critical note of what’s going on around us. We’re so obsessed with having our fingers on so many cultural pulses, that we often forget to have them on our own.
Winning pitches, pay rises and awards are only good for one thing—to live a good life, doing a job that makes us happy. Otherwise, what’s the point?
As out-of-hours millennials, we’re comfortable speaking up and creating movements that take a stand for something; yet as junior creatives, we find ourselves putting our hands up to stay back late and working ourselves silly—taking on as much as we can fit into a day (and night!).
Of course, there are incentives—a lit burger from Grill’d, the chance to rub shoulders with our senior role models and, on the odd occasion, the opportunity to get an idea up. But what happens when the random late nights become every night? We’re so willing to throw ourselves into work that might even slightly ‘make us’, without realising that this (on top of everything else we’re doing) could potentially ‘break us’. We need to learn to respect our minds—after all, it’s our most important asset. And we need to accept that making the great work (we are so fixated on doing), is near impossible with a burnt-out brain.
Life is the award. It’s all about finding fulfilment in what we do—whether big or small. We all know the thrill that a good idea can bring—the sheer joy of creating something that works. And working hard is undeniably rewarding, we just need to also realise that we need to look after ourselves. Pause and celebrate the small wins. Rejoice over the client smiling at your witty-joke or that immaculately crafted copy. For without the ‘day-to-day’, the ‘big moments’ wouldn’t be possible—and we wouldn’t be able to evolve our craft.
Hopefully more of these industry discussions lead to a healthier creative process.
Workism needs to be disarmed, because otherwise it will destroy the talent we currently have and scare off our next wave of creative stars.
Our desire to ‘change the world’ will always exist and, perhaps if the right circumstances allow (and certainly with a healthy mindset), we might just be able to make it happen. There’s no denying the enjoyment we feel when our hard work pays off. The pay check counts for little, when you proudly see an idea come to life.
At the end of the day, if we didn’t love what we did, we wouldn’t be here. And we certainly wouldn’t be writing a leisurely article for Gabberish at 10pm on a Wednesday night!