Limiting your possiblities

Of late, I’ve been reading a few books that target women who find it difficult to advance in their careers and professional lives. Many of the advice I find in them overlap but are rather useful, not just for women but also for writers and illustrators who have been visiting this blog. =3

One of the tips that have been highlighted more than a few times is the tendency of women to limit their possibilities. According to “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office“, women live in a world that is dictated by men in power. As a result, these women tend to work within the boundaries and don’t dare to step out of the box. They view these men-in-power as father figures and in order not to “offend” those they perceive superior to them, they refrain from doing anything out of the ordinary. The situation is made worse when naysayers around these women keep reinforcing the concept that women should be “seen, not heard“. Sounds like what old-fashioned thinkers will say of kids, right? Exactly. Women are treated like kids who don’t know better.

How does this apply to us writers and illustrators? Well, I speak from a Singaporean writer’s perspective. My mom, being the typical Asian parent, will often tell me that being a writer is an occupation best left to after-hours and hobby-time. Pray tell me, given the rat-race in Singapore and the unholy long hours that we have to put in to impress our bosses (or whoever you wanna impress), when is one going to get enough time or energy to write or draw?

Believe me when I say you are never going to get the time to write or draw if you had been psycho-ed into relegating your passion to a hobby or pastime. Something else is gonna pop up just when you’re settling down. Your mom wants an errand done. Your boss throws a last minute project at you. Your friends want a get-together. So many obligations to carry out. So many roles to fulfil. All these are factors that box you in.

Another thing that boxes us Singaporean creatives in: the fact that Singapore’s publishing/illustration industry has little to no opportunities for us to shine. As I’ve mentioned countless of times before, the only books that seem to grace the shelves of local bookstores are ghost stories, tell-alls and self-help books. With the exception of little indie bookshops like Books Actually, Singaporean publishers and readers don’t exactly embrace us local creatives with open arms.

So many gripes, never-ending.

So what is a creative do in such a limiting situation? Well, who said anything about you having to be stuck in this box? The naysayers can say all they want, but they are really afraid that you’ll be better than they can ever dare to be. Ever heard of the phrase “misery loves company”? That’s right, people love to be miserable and they want you to be miserable with them.

Don’t play with such people. Rise above such negativity and ignore the little voice in your mind telling you that you can’t do it. Sure, you may not be as talented as some of the artists/writers out there but you can hone your craft and get out there to show people what you’ve got. If you stay at home all day moaning about the lack of opportunities, people are not gonna notice you. Opportunities don’t jump your way. Go to them instead.

Don’t be like a kid and expect to be taken care of. When you let someone else take care of you, you lose the power to make your decisions. Think about that.