Blog Featured Image - Braeden Doane

How being brave just ONCE brought forth a world of opportunities, and kickstarted a dream creative career

If you have big dreams of starting a creative career…

If you can imagine making something awesome and ambitious…

…then you can also imagine screwing it all up, being found out as a loser and a fraud, being banned from all future creative career options and endeavors, and being sent to the corner to think about your life choices.

That’s impostor syndrome.

You’d be shocked at the people who struggle with impostor syndrome. It’s basically almost everyone.

I’ve definitely felt it (“Oh crap, I am not department chair material! What the hell am I doing? I will be found out and fired and my family will starve because I’m a fraud!”).

It comes from caring deeply about your work, and admiring other people who do what you do…

And then feeling (what seems to be) the yawning chasm between where you are and what you’d need to do/be/have to be ready to step into ownership of that big, amazing dream.

But whether you feel impostor syndrome or not, you can take action and build a sustainable and productive creative life or creative career, one where your creative work takes its rightful place at the center.

Not only that, but when you identify and take those actions towards putting your work in the center of your life, you open the door to a new life trajectory.

Getting there isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible.

I know it because I’ve seen it.

When students in the Creative Focus Workshop stop dreaming and start acting, the work happens.
And then they start becoming the people they imagine themselves to be.

But do you believe it? Do you think the CFW can work for you?

Maybe not.

But before you dismiss me out of hand, I want to introduce you to audio producer Braeden Doane (Braeden uses they/them pronouns), who went from handy-person to full-time creative in about a year…once they took that first, scary step.

When I first spoke with Braeden, they were sitting on top of a castle. Literally.

They sent me a photo to prove it.

From rooftop handy-person to a full-time creative career in a year

Braeden knew that could LOOK like a kind of amazing life—you know, castle-sitting and all—but it was clear right from the outset that all was not well among the crenellations.

Instead, they felt trapped on the outside looking in…

…to the community radio station on the 3rd floor.

They wrote:

I’m a handyman in a castle which sounds cool but mostly it means I fix toilet seats and empty the rat traps. There is a community radio station on the 3rd floor of the building but so far I’ve been too shy to approach anyone. Hoping to come out of my shell a bit this year.

Understatement of the century, it turns out.

Later, they remembered that moment:

It was really stinking hot. And I was in my steel-toed boots on the roof, melting down.

When I signed up for your workshop I was desperate for relief from a job that I hated in an environment that was incredibly hostile. I was incredibly demoralized because I’d been trying to work as a tradesperson as a female-identifying person. It just felt like I was trying to move a brick wall by myself.

I was not getting access to sustainable employment or fair wages or feeling safe.

It’s things you never think about, but like, on a construction site, is there going to be a bathroom for me to use?

I think what pushed me into deciding to take the course was that it was the first prompt of “I can invest in myself. I actually have values and parts of myself that are worthy of nurturing. And not only that, but maybe there are pathways into employment.”

It planted that first seed of, “Maybe this is what’s possible.”

And the other thing is the fact that the option to do a payment and installment was hugely accessible. It was probably the sole reason I was able to take that workshop.

I was able to rationalize it; I pay a hundred bucks a month on my cell phone.

I’m literally bleeding for the labor exchange that I’m getting paid for.
Why can’t I take a bit of that each month and put it back into myself?

I definitely did not expect the profound moments of awakening and insight I would have that summer.

Everything about in the Creative Focus Workshop challenged Braeden’s limits—in just the way they needed to be challenged.

I can get very overwhelmed in the social sphere. If I go to a party, I’m going to talk to one person for two hours; I’m not going to say hello to everyone.

So a big cohort was a bit unnerving to navigate. But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because the times that I did reach out, having that volume of response was so helpful.

Also, I read everything. I was lurking in the back, and would see, “Oh, wow. Everyone has similar feelings to mine.”

“I think the thing I was most nervous about, and I think I’m still nervous about it, is just imposter syndrome.”

I was almost ashamed of my background or work experience and felt like, “Who am I to do creative work?” I have no legitimacy in this realm.

I was intimidated. Because, of course it’s going to be a creative powerhouse of a cohort of people doing amazing things. That’s always going to be intimidating.

But there was enough time to unpack and get to know people and how they operate in different projects and see people at different stages in their life.

And that was, it was nice.

It was humbling, but also inspiring.

Braeden’s journey from handy-person to a creative career as a full-time audio-producer and workshop leader

Bolstered by an outpouring of support from their cohort in the Creative Focus Workshop, Braeden did, in fact, approach the station manager.

I think the first change was reaching out to the station manager.

When you break everything down into actionable steps, that was number one.

I don’t even remember what the rest were because that event cascaded.

Through that I was able to become trained as a sound technician on a show that I volunteered for every Monday.

Then I had the consistency of going there once a week and building a relationship.

Distilling this want into a singular action, even if it’s just one, was powerful.

Being brave just ONCE cracked open a world of opportunity, and an entirely new dream career for Braeden.

Here’s how it happened, in their words…

  • The station manager set me up with a volunteer position as a sound technician for the Monday afternoon news show.
  • I started to come out of my shell a bit and socialize more at work.
  • I was put in touch with a CBC producer who agreed to a phone call, and she gave me a lot of great advice and support around how to step into the radio/podcasting industry. At the time, I confided to her I was newly pregnant and she was the first person who made me feel like my pregnancy was an opportunity and not a burden.
  • I helped record and produce Indigenous language segments for the radio.
  • I landed a gig as the sound designer and editor for the centennial celebration of one of the old castles on the university campus.
  • I helped mentor a group of university students in podcasting for a project called Storyweavers, the aim of which was to elevate voices from underrepresented groups. At the end of the project, I was nine months pregnant, and I somehow managed to edit together 9 podcast episodes of the students’ work in one week, by myself. I could not have pulled this off without the skillset I cultivated from your workshop.
  • I’ve had the opportunity for the past few years to mentor 18 to 22 year-olds in how to produce radio shows and produce podcasts through an entity called Hart House. You can check out some of our work on @harthousestories on Instagram and Hart House Stories on SoundCloud.
  • And through that, I ended up speaking at a conference, and there I met a professor who wants to use podcasting as an assignment in their masters in public health curriculum, so now I’m working with them, also.
  • I spent the past year giving podcast workshops as a tool for arts-based collaborative learning in the classroom, ranging from 4th grade to graduate school.

I mean, WHOAH.

And all of that (which happened in just 3 years!) has opened the door for Braeden to imagine their big dream:

This is something I was thinking about before COVID, but now I feel even more compelled—and maybe even haunted—to do.

So many young people have disappeared from view and have lost their support or their touch points with arts-based exploration.

And so I’m building out a framework that I can bring to the school board to do four- to six-week workshops, but also set up a space for them that can continue when I leave. Like, here’s this toolbox that you can play with, mess around, fail, have fun, broadcast each other, explore the expanse of your voice.

Braeden’s story makes me so happy.

They are a happy parent, thrilled with their career trajectory, and now simply face the problem of how to carve out more creative freedom when they’re already creative all day (Nice problem to have!).

My heart is full of joy for them!

But they’re no outlier.

So many Creative Focus alumni tell a similar story!

So here’s the question facing you…

How can YOU make progress on your scariest, most exciting creative projects, or finally dive headfirst into your dream creative career?

It’s not a matter of getting a personality transplant. Sure, your psyche has all kinds of tricks up its sleeve when it comes to preventing you from focus on your work.

But if you let impostor syndrome stop you from pursuing your creative work or starting your dream creative career…

…you’re going to STAY stopped.

And we all know: That’s UNACCEPTABLE.

The thing is, you can’t plan or learn or prepare your way out of hand-to-hand combat with the Impostor beast.

You have to be willing to put yourself out there and face the fear…but that doesn’t mean jumping off a cliff!

It means taking small, considered, focused actions, with the support of a passionate crew, towards your goal.

It means deciding. And then acting on that decision. No matter how unprepared or unworthy you feel.

That’s what Braeden did.

And if that insight alone is enough to get you going, mazel tov—I wish you well.

But for the rest of the population…

You can’t think your way
(or self-affirm, or design business cards) 
into a new way of acting.

You ACT your way into a new way of thinking.

Meet Jessica Abel

Meet Jessica Abel

Author. Cartoonist. Teacher. Coach.

I help people whose imagination and creativity are the ultimate source of everything they do in their professional life stop grinding and start carving out the deep focus needed to finish—and launch—the game-changing work they want to be known for.  Discover my Courses, Join the FREE Creative Engine Workshop or find out more about me.

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