#2: What does The Row, Violette_Fr, and medical school have in common?
The protest of doing one thing well in a culture obsessed with BIG dreams
Hi, I’m Caitlin Sowers, welcome to the 2nd edition of Try Stuff Energy. A monthly newsletter for creatives to unblock yourself with tools, resources, and personal anecdotes. ✨
My friend Caroline tells a story about attending a french medical school as an english speaker, where learning and communicating in her second language coupled with a hefty workload left her overwhelmed. To manage, she began setting the goal to get through the next 5 minutes. Slowly, those 5 minute intervals became a day, then days, followed by weeks, then months. She is now a physician.
First of all, you must give yourself permission to begin small and go in baby steps. These steps must be rewarded. Setting impossible goals creates enormous fear, which creates procrastination, which we wrongly call laziness.
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Dreaming really big ought to come with an advisory label (and I’m talking to myself here). Be warned: you may crumble by the sheer weight of this dream, and if you do, please for the love of God will you break it into baby steps so we can have a little fun while we’re here?
The concept of doing one thing, the next thing, the best you can seems to have the cultural sex appeal of skinny jeans and a side part. Tiktok can catapult a preteen into omnipresent fame over night, venture capitalists may fund your idea but expect you to shoot for 100X return. Baby steps are decidedly not aspirational. Robin Givhan of the Washington Post wrote about the marvel it is to choose the path of a simple thing when discussing the Olsen twin’s brand The Row, who’s origin was perfecting the T-shirt:
Still, at a time when the culture is in a frantic dash for the newest technology, the brashest idea, the most subversive gamesmanship, the fastest solutions — aiming to do a simple thing utterly, deliberately, beautifully right is something of a marvel.
The Row’s Perfect T-shirt via Net-a-porter ($320)
For Mary-Kate and Ashley, the perfect T-shirt then became a tank top, which became a dress, followed by a blazer… and The Row was born.
“The Row” by Anne Slowey via Interview Magazine
Makeup artist Violette_FR launched her namesake beauty brand this week, 17 years into her career as a makeup artist. A modest 6 product multi-category launch with charming products like “Boum-Boum Milk” (made from fermented birch sap) and “Petal Bouche”. The brand took Violette and her team three years to develop. Violette wrote about the 30 samples she iterated on before finding the perfect red for her lipstick:
The 5th I said “Yes it’s cute… But it’s not the love of my life.”
The 10th I was all-- “It should be deep!!!! We need vibrance!!! Brightness!!! But also depth!!!!”
For another year I said “add more yellow… more blue… Add more vibrance…”
The 27th sample came, and I said:
“Yes okay, this is the color, but it should be TURNED ON!!! It should have ELECTRICITY!”
The 30th sample came and everyone held their breath.
I said ***nothing*** for 2 minutes.
“Do you realize that you just created the most incredible red on the planet?”
Petal Bouche Lipstick via Violette_FR
While I believe there is a time to look toward a bullseye on the horizon, the weight of these aspirations can create inadequacy, overwhelm, and burn out. There is a prevalent belief that suffering is beneficial and good for us, implying we’ve tried or are trying for something worthwhile.
Last week I unknowingly poisoned myself with an overdose of Vitamin D, leaving me in full body hives and subject to incessant itching. While I would describe what happened to me as hell on earth, how I managed taught me something. I woke up on the first morning of what I am now referring to as The Itch™ and asked myself: what is true?
I have hives. I don’t know why. I am in pain. I need to take time off work immediately.
Then the fear came: Who do you think you are? You can’t be resting. You need to build the best product. The startup needs you. You can’t take time away. You will fall behind.
Focused on my bullseye: building the best products and being the best product designer, I was taken me away from what I unequivocally needed in that moment: rest. Focused on a smaller goal, I might have readily treated myself with more kindness and understanding.
Alexi Pappas, olympian, actress, and writer wrote about what she coined The Willpower Index in her debut novel Bravey. The purpose of The Willpower Index is to see your willpower as a fixed budget, both measurable and depletable.
She began to gauge what activities were draining vs. boosting, good for her vs. bad for her, then planned her schedule based on her willpower budget. If skipping out on team banter on the way to practice meant she could sustain a longer training session, she put her headphones in and forgave herself for ignoring her teammates. If a week of heavy outputs meant she would need to recharge the following week, she allotted for that.
Allowing oneself to feel good inside of a culture that profits off of our insecurity is an act of protest. Baby steps may not earn you the loudest crowd cheer to start, but mean you might actually finish the race. This is a gentle invitation to tune inward and ask what small steps might be calling to you, or what perspective shift may better serve your longevity and health. Celebrating these acts and enjoying the process is a sure difference between a sustainable relationship with our goals and inevitable burn out. Because I’d really love us to have a little fun while we’re here.
Sparks of Try Stuff Energy ⚡️
At 22, Kaitlin Smith began experimenting with grain-free muffin mixes. Now, 8 years later she does $100M in revenue a year with her brand Simple Mills. Hear her story.
Unfck Your Brain Episode 166: Perfectionism & Achieving Impossible Goals
There is always time to rest if you stop believing everything else is more important than you resting.
Source: Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza
Rest is a super power.
Nancy Twine left her career at Goldman Sachs to fulfill her dream of creating effective and natural haircare: enter from stage left…Briogeo. With an initial investment of less than $100K, Nancy developed a modern haircare brand to compete with the best of the best at Sephora. Hear her story.
Hi 👋, I’m Caitlin Sowers. I started making Youtube videos in 2017 (110 and counting) which is where many of you may know me from. I’m really happy you’re here and would love to keep in touch.