A little personal... Let's talk about anxiety

Sometimes, I get riddled with awful anxiety that pops up in the morning around 5 minutes after I wake up and seems to get worse throughout the day. I think it’s actually correlated to not getting enough sleep during the week, but it’s also triggered when I’m having an unsteady week with work.

I have noticed a bad habit develop within me which is to base my success and validation as an illustrator on how many jobs I have going on at a time. —This isn’t to say that I overdo it and accept too many jobs at once because I don’t, and I make sure that I always give my full attention to the job I’m working on. — But sometimes upon waking up I start thinking about what I have to do during the day and if I don’t have any projects going on, it can start to create anxiety.

As I mentioned before, I have been reading (and just finished) the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle and in it he talks about noticing when the ego arises in different situations of our lives. For example, me wanting to become a world-renown famous illustrator is driven by ego because it puts me on a pedestal above others similar to what we think celebrities might have. If your primary goals in life are driven by the ego, you will never find happiness. You may find temporary happiness, but it won’t last because the ego will look for more and more.

Through reading this book I discovered that for the past year, part of me (my ego) has based my validation as an illustrator indirectly on how much money I make or how many projects I have going on. Can you see why this is a recipe for complete disaster? This isn’t to say that these are my driving factors in my business, because they are not, but there has been a part of me that felt like the only validation I can receive is through those forms.

Every time I get this anxiety like this, I start to look outward at what I can change in my life to make it stop. I start scrolling through the internet to find part-time job listings, search about retreats that I can’t afford and overall just analyze every aspect of my career from an outer perspective instead of turning within.

I still need to find a way to remind myself of this when it happens, but sometimes turning inward for even just 10 mins with a meditation or short nap allows ourselves to calm down and refresh our perspective. In this case today, I needed more sleep. I woke up feeling peaceful, calm and refreshed. Now I can spend my evening drawing without all the added pressures I was feeling all day today.

To sum up: If you feel anxiety and you start to think that you need to change things about your lifestyle, routine, job, etc, turn inward first. Turning inward will give you the answers your seeking and sometimes that means changing nothing at all. If you feel happiest when you have achieved something, or feel that your goal is to make a big name for yourself, you are letting your ego take the driver’s seat of your life. I highly recommend this book for anyone who can relate to any part of this post.