Real Creative Lives: How Four Creators Overcome Stress & Self-Doubt

The creative’s path is filled with peaks and valleys. At best, joy and fulfillment come from art that reflects who we are, what we believe, and the way we see the world. But we also encounter tremendous self-doubt, impostor syndrome, detrimental comparison to others, and severe stress along the way. 

Left unchecked, this can take a serious toll on our mental health. 

Recently, we had the chance to chat with four creative entrepreneurs to hear about their mental health and mindset journeys, the challenges of being an artist, and more.

Seek Help, Listen to Other Creatives

Riley Seebeck is a professional adventure and landscape photographer. Riley discusses managing anxiety and the pressure of societal norms, the importance of not comparing yourself to others, and how the creative path doesn’t lend itself to financial security on day 1. People who take safer professional routes can experience financial abundance at a quicker pace than a creative who’s doing everything on their own.

Riley Seebeck holds a camera at the side of a river
Riley Seebeck looks up river for his next photograph

“I can’t sit here and claim that I’m an enlightened human, or have it even remotely figured out. Driving and driving and working myself to the bone. Cold calling, overthinking. It’s really hard not to just fall into self doubt, through societal norms.”

One insight that has been instrumental to Riley’s business in the past year comes from a simple concept in the Tao Te Ching, “Desire less and allow more.” By letting things flow and unravel as they’re meant to rather than pushing and forcing everything, Riley’s found more opportunity and abundance than ever before. Focus on building relationships, listening, learning, stop comparing, and keep moving forward. 

Be Active In Your Community

Raven Guenneguez sits as a desk with his art talking about creative stress.
Raven Guenneguez shares his experience with impostor syndrome

Raven Guenneguez is a Graphic Designer for Seattle Bouldering Project. Art has always been a relaxing practice for him, but when it became a professional endeavor, self-doubt and impostor syndrome began creeping into his mind more and more.  He wondered, “Am I good enough? Is my art unique or different enough to stand out?” It can be difficult to escape your mind when these negative thoughts come up. His advice is to spend time with people you care about, find community, play and exercise. 

Raven Guenneguez points to textures he's created in his art that help him deal with stress
Raven Guenneguez creates art to help overcome stress

“I was really worried about like, oh man, am I going to be any good? Am I any good at what I do? What if I’m just a fraud?”

Physically Connect with Nature

Matthew Callans is a small business owner and creative entrepreneur. He is a writer for the CreativeLive team, and the co-founder of Areté Adaptogens. Matthew realizes that in order to perform his best, he needs to take care of his mind and body. Similar to Erin and Raven, Matthew attributes his ability to perform at a high level to creating the space to do things on a daily basis that will bring him joy and peace. Spending time in nature and exercising are two things that bring him into a positive mindset and help him move through challenges with a steady mind. Matthew also discusses the importance of having people in your corner that love you, and being part of a community. 

Matthew Callans sits on the ground cross legged in a prayer pose during yoga class to actively combat stress
Matthew Callans focuses on self-care to manage stress

“If you just put yourself on that (creative) path, the only guarantee along that path is that things are going to be turbulent and be changing, pretty much all the time.” 

Do Things That Bring You Joy

Erin Bourguinon was in a horrific boating accident as a teenager that woke her up to the reality that life is precious and short, so you might as well do what you love. As she followed her artistic curiosity, she was met with resistance and doubt from her family who thought she was throwing her life away in pursuit of something that would never provide a living. As a professional glass blower and artist, Erin is under significant pressure to perform. That stress weighs on her as the responsibilities of her life continue to increase. Erin encourages all creatives to do things daily that bring them joy.

Glass artist Erin Bourguinon heats up glass on a flame in her studio while talking about stress
Glass blower and artist Erin Bourguinon in her studio

A huge piece of coping with the challenges of the creative journey is understanding that you’re not alone. Every path is unique, but the emotions and challenges along the way have many similarities across the board. Don’t be afraid to speak up about the difficulties you’re experiencing. When you keep it inside, it can eat away at you and create stronger feelings of isolation and doubt. Additionally, this will negatively impact your work. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Make time to do things you enjoy. Surround yourself with people you love. Be intentional about your mental health, and keep creating. 

Recommended classes:

Kyle Huber FOLLOW >

Kyle Huber is a curious human and creator. By day, Kyle is a producer and editor on the Chase Jarvis Live Show and the CreativeLive short form content team. Outside of that, you'll find him recreating outdoors, hosting the Symphony podcast, and working with an incredible team of entrepreneurs as Arete Adaptogens.