Give Thanks


A Grateful Heart

Over the years, I have come to learn what true humility means to me: the knowledge and grace to accept your strengths and weaknesses. I always associate the times in my life when I have been humbled as difficult and stressful. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be better all the time. When I set unrealistic standards for myself and fail, I am humbled and reminded of my weaknesses. But through my personal reflections, I find, true humility also requires you to recognize your strengths and growth as something good and worth celebrating.

Life as a solopreneur and freelancer is like going through life fast-forward. There is so much to think about, so much to learn and to stay on top of. This includes developing your skills and your business, networking, building relationships, actively prospecting projects and anticipating trends in the industry. For me, since I started freelancing in 2017, it all still feels like a blur. The constant changes and adaptations to environments, processes, technologies, people and projects, continues to stretch my capacity as a designer, professional, service provider and individual.

When I take the time to look back and see where I came from, I have to admit, I am not doing too badly. In fact, I never imagined that I would have come this far. I take for granted the milestones through my development, especially my smaller accomplishments. From reaching out and setting meetups with new contacts to rebranding my new business and portfolio website, these accomplishments are stepping stones in my journey. Yet, I still struggle to see these events as gifts, because I overshadow them with the work that still needs to be done.

I am still not to where I want to be. But by not taking the time to fully embrace where we are in our journey, our doubts and false humility robs us from the hidden joys in every moment. This is a habit that I recognize about myself. I am very anxious and scared as a solopreneur. I honestly do not know a lot about business and I am still trying to better my skills as a designer both technically and professionally. So my crutch is to belittle my knowledge and skills rather than acknowledging my growth and focusing on improving.

You Can’t Blame Yourself For Something You Don’t Know

But you can blame yourself for not trying to find the answers. I find this is where I get confused and frustrated. Too easily, I blame myself for not knowing something. Yet, funny enough, I learn best by making mistakes and redoing something over and over until I get it right. Even when we know what we should do, sometimes we are just too slow to act. Moreover, the standards of our fast-paced world is overwhelming for any creative trying to define their style, audience, skills and business.

So what can one do? Honestly, do what you can. As designers and entrepreneurs, we solve problems creatively. And in some cases the simplest answer is to act. I often am like a deer caught in the headlights when I start planning on projects. I can disect the steps required to complete a job, but as the list of tasks grow, it can get very stressful. Will I be able to get through all this? Can I do this?

This is where I find myself now with my new business and portfolio website. Although the site is up, the updates and edits never stop. I am looking to learn more and incorporate better technologies and techniques in my processes. But I am slow to change. And I have come to realize that I am not the only one and it is okay. We are human. And for some of us, it takes time to learn and to grow. So if we have a direction and goal, and we are taking the right steps to get there, then why should it matter if it takes you awhile to get there?

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.
— Confucius

I am realizing that as a solopreneur, we are playing a long game. We will not see the results we want right away. It will take a constant time and effort to get to where we want. Developing our brands and businesses can take months or even years until we are where we want to be. So in order to stay motivated, I will focus on two things: my crazy, bigger-than-life, worthwhile goal and having the faith that the sacrifices I make today will get me there. Exactly how and when, I can only prepare and plan for as best as I can.

Realistic or not, we never know what is behind the corner. Our timelines for our lives can change as we grow and gain experience. Something that we estimated to take years can happen in a moment, and vice versa. So instead to preparing and planning for an infinite amount of outcomes, maybe we should focus on what is in front of us, do our best and enjoy where we are right now. So if you are studying, ask questions and grow in your skills. For those working or looking for work, do your research and look for jobs or projects that fit with your brand and audience.

There is always hope. There is an answer to every situation. And if you do not like the result, then see what you can change. It may cause you to grow or learn something new. Maybe it is just a matter of changing your perspective. Other times, there is nothing you can do. It is out of your control. And when that happens, because it will, as best as we can, all we can do is move on.

True Humility

I believe there is a right time and a right place for everything. But I tend to forget that when I am stressed or frustrated by my unrealistic standards or somethings does not turn out the way I want. We can blame or fight with ourselves for our failings, but will this cause us to change the same way if we encourage and motivate ourselves instead. I agree that we need to take responsibility for our shortcomings, but for factors out of our control, all we can do is hope.

Have faith that your sacrifices have meaning and purpose for a brighter future. Take good care of yourself in order to have the strength to face each day and each challenge. Be truly humble in your thoughts and your actions. Let us take the time to celebrate our roots and accomplishments with grace and humility. ■

Patricia Atienza