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Week 22.

It’s not about stroking egos.

A Donut by Kylie on 7 June

Something incredible happened today. I woke up and checked my emails only to find that someone had donated $1000 to my Live Below the Line campaign. It was donated anonymously. An anonymous donor. What? Wow. I was, and still am, speechless. It is easily one of the kindest things someone has ever done for me.

Just before Christmas last year, a friend of mine unexpectedly wrote a really lovely message on my Facebook wall. She pointed out all of the things she liked about me and told me things I would need to hear from another person to start believing in them myself. It warmed my heart, lifted my self-esteem and made me feel special. Not only this, because it was on my wall, some of our mutual friends hit the ‘like’ button in displays of support for the post. I’m not the best at taking compliments (especially grand ones like that) but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to feel appreciated.

Just last week, I wrote about that brief moment of validation you receive from someone after you push some of your work into the public eye. The moment where you get the fleeting feeling of accomplishment and revel in a temporary world where self-doubt and internal smack talk fail to exist. In last week’s post I talked about how you shouldn’t solely rely on these gestures of kindness and support to validate your own abilities. While I still stand by this one-hundred percent, this week’s events taught me to appreciate the value of these gestures of support and to realise how important it can be to pass on these gestures of support ourselves. Especially in our industry.

So many people around us — more than we possibly know — struggle. They could be struggling with their personal life, struggling with their work or just down-right struggling in general. Gestures, such as those I described above and even gestures of a much smaller scale, have the ability to lift the spirits of those who are not doing so well. In my case, I was left with a heightened feeling of positivity. I felt loved, appreciated and in a lot of ways more worthwhile. In general, my confidence was a little stronger and things (life, work, whatever) felt a little easier to manage. All in all, these gestures of support can often be the little bits of glue that hold people together when they’re struggling to hold it together themselves.

For example, if you were to read about strategies to help tackle Imposter Syndrome it is often suggested that you think about your ‘wins’. For me, my wins are both when I personally have been proud of something I’ve done and/or when someone else has been proud of me or something I have done. Sometimes, our own internal validation isn’t enough to hold on to so we turn to the validation of others. This is where the gestures from people around us deliver tangible and useful opportunities to move forward. When we need to, we think of those wins and the wins that meant the most to us.

We spend a large amount of time creating our own work and also looking at other people’s work. In this time we often see the work of other designers that we like. Typically, we’ll review the work in awe at it’s quality, pass it around to our close peers, tell each other how much we love it and then move on.

But what if we actually delivered those same messages of support to the actual creators themselves?

I’m not suggesting that we need to go out and compliment every single piece of work but I do think that it’s important to make more of a concerted effort to pass on messages of support when we think someone is doing a good job. It’s not about stroking egos (which, for the record, I don’t always think is a bad thing) but rather about supporting one another and lifting each other up to be better. You never know if that’s exactly what that person needed right at that time or if its something they will need to hold onto for sometime in the future.

This week's donut?

While we are all encouraged to offer comments when we have constructive criticism, we're often never encouraged to provide comments purely for the sake of support. Providing people with positive, reinforcing feedback can offer tangible and important opportunities to believe in what they do when they are struggling to believe it themselves.

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