For many years, I struggled with my creative identity.
What am I supposed to call myself when people ask what I do? What will other people see me as? How well-known will my creative pursuits be in the near future, and will it only be looked at as a side hustle or a full-blown job?
For many years, I was deeply concerned over the word used to describe what I did, and not really paying attention to what I was really doing. “What should I say in my Instagram bio?” “How do I explain the meaning behind the multiple jobs, faces, and hats that I wear on a month-to-month basis?” “How will people know me for my skills and artistry?”
Though these all sound surface-level, there’s a truth to being able to properly showcase what you want to be known for publicly so there’s never any confusion about who you are, who you aspire to be, and what you do.
Fast forward a few years into the future, and I discovered the multi-hyphenate meaning from Michael Kushner’s podcast whilst I was still living in New York City.
Suddenly, I felt like other artists were struggling to embrace the notion that artists are defined by what they do, not what others see them as. And not only that, in this digital age, we have the power to define what we do and who we are like never before.
So before we get into how to embody our creative job, let’s define what this actually means.
What is a multi-hyphenate?
A multi-hyphenate creative is a multi-talented and -passionate artist who blends many creative pursuits into their professional career.
What’s unique about being a multi-hyphenate now more than ever is that in our internet-based, remote, digital space, showcasing our work on our own creative platforms like Instagram, Youtube, a blog, and a website, can help us define the depths of who we are, taking back the power and blending all our passions and professionals into the beautiful, symbiotic creative career we might not have ever seen in the past.
5+ years ago, there were few resources to learn, understand, and fully embrace this multi-hyphenate lifestyle openly. I personally felt like I had to be limited to just one pursuit, and if I became “known” for something else, my true dream could never be my full-time job.
I’d created an ego that told me I needed to define myself very particularly, instead of focusing on what I created, pursued, and loved.
So, if you’re navigating the challenges of embracing your own multiple hyphens, here are 5 things you need to start doing to unlock your true creative career magnetism and embrace the multihyphenate within you. ✨
1. Embrace your multi-hyphenate identity unapologetically.
Some of us grew up in a family of creative professions, where telling others that you were a musician was never a surprise nor a big deal.
But others grew up in towns where saying you were going to university for theatre immediately brought on the question, “oh, a BA in Theatre? What are you going to do with that?”
While our families or the communities we grew up in might question our pursuits, one of the most badass things you can do while you’re on this journey to embrace multiple pursuits in your career is to do it unapologetically.
This might mean doing an affirmation, like “I have no apologies” every morning to yourself.
It might mean starting to read books like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.”
It might mean finding circles and communities that you know will always have supportive company there for you, no matter how many questions you get about your pursuits.
I know being unapologetic doesn’t happen in one day. But consider this a little boost that says all artists in all creative industries deserve to take up space.
2. Find where your passion and skills meet.
If you’re unclear about the types of roles you want to pursue in your multi-hyphenate career, find the overlap of where your passions and skills meet. Write a list of everything others have told you you’re good at on one side, and write a list of everything you love doing on the other side.
Once you start finding similarities, you can make a connection to each and start outlining how you can carve your current trajectory to meet it. The beauty of being a multi-hyphenate is that just as people shift and grow in their interests, so can our careers. Placing emphasis on a certain idea could mean you want to do it forever, or not.
The key is to constantly be pursuing a path that makes your heart shake a little bit. If you hear the words “an actor-director who owns their own theatre,” “a voice actor for inspiring children’s novels,” or “a musician that performs for a different audience and city every night,” and feel that your eyes light up, you’re onto something.
3. Explore your hyphens by taking action.
Now that you’ve reflected on your passions, it’s time to uncover the different roles and talents that make up your multi-hyphenate identity! In other words, do the damn thing, and start introducing each of these into your life if you haven’t already. ? If you want to be a performer, but don’t feel you have the skills yet, start out with some classes. If your closet is full of artwork you’ve painted over the years, set up an Etsy shop and start selling it.
Taking action is the one thing that holds a lot of people back from their passions. We can sit around and say all the affirmations we want, but if we’re not taking steps each and every day to get closer and closer to the curiosity and fulfillment of those crafts, we’re not expanding ourselves in any way.
4. Leverage the relationships you already have to start creating as a community.
At the root of everything is collaboration.
It’s easy to read stories of how celebrities achieved their dreams and think that they did this all themselves, but it’s far from the truth. We only see one name, and subconsciously, it makes it easier for us to assume it’s a singular person who was able to achieve this high level of creation and talent.
But being a successful creative multi-hyphenate means understanding that you already have a lot of the answers and solutions at your fingertips.
There’s a sense of humility that comes from knowing that the answer to a lot of your questions lies in the relationships you have and the wisdom of your community. This isn’t just about using others for your own benefit, but about knowing that having a supportive community as early on as possible will help you build collaborative relationships that could bring you to your goals faster.
Consider your life as an actor living in a silo. The energy it takes meeting people and proving yourself to others can feel draining enough as it is, let alone pursue auditions and self-submissions to try to get your name out there. Not only are you trying to get jobs on your own, but you’re trying to get more experience and learn more things all on your own.
But putting aside this urge to constantly prove yourself or hold back information and turning to the relationships you already have can give you a sense of peace and provide a more flexible working relationship, without the constant auditions and proving yourself.
Building a supportive community of fellow multi-hyphenates is about what you can gain and what you can contribute. Being generous with your knowledge, experiences, and support will encourage others, to share it back with you.
5. Embrace an abundance mindset.
An abundance mindset shifts your perspective from scarcity to abundance, from limitations to possibilities. It’s about knowing that there’s more than enough to go around and that opportunities are limitless.
It’s the difference between talking about your career and saying “I’m a starving artist just waiting for my big break!” and saying, “I have a lot of exciting projects on the horizons that I’m blessed to have.”
Teal Swan’s meditations, guidance, and courses are always extremely impactful for me, and this mini-meditation on financial abundance is no different!
The biggest key to having an abundance mindset is having gratitude. Jack Canfield taught me how to practice unwavering gratitude, starting with the simplest things that are around me.
“I am grateful for this rug. I am grateful for the people who made this rug. I am grateful for the beautiful, colorful soft, material they had access to so they were able to make this rug…” and so on.
I could talk for hours about how to embrace this mindset, especially because I’m learning every day about how I can be a better artist. At the root of being a mindful, loving multi-hyphenate is something I talk about a lot on the blog: having strong ownership over and care for your body, your environment, and your ability to create income streams from your talents.
Each and every day, you’re writing your own story. What better to do than focus on bettering your life, your relationships, and your art? So let’s go– your journey awaits; the world eagerly anticipates the unique gifts you have to share. ?
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