Stop worrying about what you don’t know and say what you can say. This is advice my friend Chase likes to give me, but if I’m honest, it has yet to sink in.
So often I find myself struggling to produce because I’m trying to say things I can’t say. In an effort to seem valuable to my heroes, I imprison myself by trying to write things they will find impressive.
But here’s the truth: I’m not as good as my heroes. There’s a reason I look up to people like Jeffrey Zeldman and Jason Santa Maria. They’ve been doing this stuff for a long time and comparing my output to there’s is a losing battle. Comparing myself to anyone is a losing battle.
You may not be able to speak directly to your heroes. They are far ahead of you for good reason. They have learned from experience, things you have yet to learn. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say.
I may not be able to write an article about how to grow a design shop into one of the foremost shops in the world, but I can speak to the thousands of freelancers out there who are just starting out and worried about where their clients will come from or how to price their first jobs.
I probably can’t write an article about CSS or web development that would teach Chris Coyier something new, but there’s a lot I can say to the people behind me.
And here’s the thing, it takes doing it to get better at it. The reason our heroes are so good is because they were able to overcome their fear and just keep doing it, day after agonizing day.
Find the thing you can say and focus on that.
My friend Chase said it the best I’ve ever heard anyone say it:
Basically I saw the things that other people where saying, and I said to myself, “I need to say those kinds of things.” So I said those kinds of things in those kinds of ways. And everything came out all markety and weird…That’s what I thought I was supposed to do.
Here’s the thing, we often say things in or content, our marketing, our writing, whatever, that may not necessarily be true, because we think people want to hear it.
But I’ve learned something. For me and maybe for you too, the things that I make get better when I stop worrying about the things I’m supposed to say or what they want to hear or anything like that, and I start focusing on “What do I really know that I can say.”
Stop putting on yourself the burden of being remarkable. Fuck remarkable. Just be yourself. We all have something to offer. We all have something say. There are always people out there we can help.