I Don't Know What I'm Doing Either: How To Get Unstuck
Real talk advice from entrepreneur Erin Yogasundram
Illustrated by Jihyang Lim
Hi! I’m Erin. I’m 25, and I live in Los Angeles. I started Shop Jeen, an online retailer, in my dorm room when I was 20. We bootstrapped the company to do millions in sales, and boast over 500k followers across social channels. I learned a ton from my experience, but just like you (and everyone else), I’m still trying to figure life out. But even though I don’t know everything (no one does!), I have lots of experiences to share and resources to provide—all things that I didn’t have when I started out, and all things I’m hoping will inspire you.
Feel free to tweet me questions @ERINJEEN and maybe we’ll choose your question for NYLON!
It’s SUPER normal to feel “stuck” moving forward with your career (and really just your whole life in general). We are all familiar with the term “writer's block,” but don’t recognize that this phenomenon is universal and not just for writers. Personally, at some point each day, I feel stuck. Sometimes it happens numerous times a day. I get to my next task on the to-do list, and I just stare blankly at the screen. To be honest with you, writing the first edition of this column was on my to-do list for like two months, but every day as I put my fingers to the keyboard, I found I just couldn’t type.
Then one day, I came home from a very positive meeting and a nice walk, started typing, and finished my column in, like, 15 minutes. I felt inspired. Staying inspired is the KEY to getting yourself out of the inevitable limbo state that we will constantly face throughout our lives. If we can identify what inspires us, we can take action to try and get ourselves unstuck from whatever is holding us back.
I created a list of things to do when I need to give myself a little mental jump-start. I usually start and end my day doing something from it and refer to it throughout the day when I feel in need of a creative reset.
First things first. I always start by telling myself: GET INSPIRED, BITCH, THE WORLD IS SO BIG, AND THERE’S SO MUCH SHIT TO SEE AND DO. YOU GOT THIS MAMA, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP.
And then I do one or more of the following:
-go on Tumblr
-call my mommy
-play a game on Lumosity
-watch School of Life videos
-make a random list (IDK, ideas or groceries or something—anything)
-call my mentor
-put on disco music and go hang out with Petunia
-write a stand-up sketch
-clean out my closet
-go for a walk
-take a course on Coursera
-smoke some weed
-get lost in Amazon
-do a face mask
-write a letter to myself from the perspective of my best friend
-continue learning Spanish (or start a new language) on Duolingo
-meditate and do breathing exercises on Calm
I add to this list regularly. I highly recommend you make your own and put it on your wall, above your desk, and in your phone notes.
Your environment is SO important for your creative juices. Also, we are ALL creatives. I hate the stigma that to be creative, you have to be some form of a traditional artist. We are constantly faced with opportunities to be creative, and we actually crave creative expression; we all just have different methods of expressing it. Become aware of what makes you happy, keeps you focused, and inspires you, and acknowledge your surroundings as essential to living a healthy and happy life. I find that when I clean and organize my home and workspace, my brain is less cluttered and my chance of avoiding feeling stuck is improved. It helps me to have nostalgic trinkets, pretty stuff, and posters all around me at home. I set up a color-changing smart light bulb in my room, and it gets me in the MOOD.
Another important thing to do is spend some time assessing your relationships, and decide if any of them might be contributing to your stuck state; toxic romantic relationships, friendships, and working dynamics can all make us feel trapped in our lives.
Finally: You MUST take time for yourself (I’m also talking to myself here; I am a big offender in this department but am trying to get better. Improve yourself with me!). You should not feel guilt or shame for needing a minute or two or 100 to reset yourself. Make a list of things you can do to express yourself and get inspired. Recognize when you’re aware that you’re slipping and catch yourself. Take action. You AREN’T ACTUALLY STUCK. It’s just a feeling. Don’t forget that!
Now I'm off to throw on a face mask before I do the next thing on my to-do list ^_^