April 23, 2024

My Toxic Trait

My Toxic Trait

We all have toxic traits that we try our best to rid of our lives. Sometimes it’s as simple as just creating a daily routine to correct what you think needs improvement, other times it’s much more challenging. 

My toxic trait is believing that I can do better than what’s trending on social media.

So why the fuck haven’t I done it?

I can keep blaming it on having a full time job and having to take care of my kid, I can pin it on not having enough time to perfect it the way I want it, but the truth is I’m just afraid of how I’m going to be perceived by the public.

If I’m judging people so harshly, how are they going to judge me?

I can say I have all these short film ideas, I can say I have all these photography and video concepts to push for, but I never spend any time dedicated to it because I’m afraid either no one will enjoy it, or worse, no one will see it.

I challenged my buddy Benjamin to be able to push content out on Instagram and youtube, and for a while, I was fairly consistent… on Instagram. 

I never did the push on Youtube to create long form content. Could I have just regurgitated one of these little articles I’ve written? Probably. So I had the script already done and I never hit record on my camera. 

Even these little articles I was being consistent with on a daily basis just died out, because I felt I could’ve spent this same amount of time working on something that’ll actually have an impact… like watching Netflix and finishing a show… yup that’s how I’m spending my free time…

We’re our worst enemy. I’m my worst enemy. 
I can’t just flip a switch and hope that it’ll all change overnight, but we’re going to be making short small strides little by little to get to where we want to be.

Gotta start somewhere right?

September 18, 2023

Canon Rebel XS (2008): Reliving the Past, Framing the Present

Canon Rebel XS (2008): Reliving the Past, Framing the Present

Canon Rebel XS: Using a 15 year old camera in the modern era.

Picture this: 2008, a time when the Canon Rebel XS was the epitome of photographic innovation in a small package. With its 10-megapixel camera, advanced 7-point autofocus, and the convenience of storing up to 32GB using SDHC memory cards, it was a compact wonder with unrivaled potential. Fast forward 15 years and the question remains - does this vintage gem still have a place in today's world of photography dominated by cutting-edge technology?

Short answer, no. Please don’t buy it with the intention of taking professional photos. The camera is only good for what it isn’t.

Strength In Weakness

The Rebel XS carries a modest sensor, offering around 8.6 stops of dynamic range, or maybe 10 if luck is on your side, and a maximum ISO of 1600. Nighttime or low-light shooting isn't its forte, and it heavily relies on a fast lens to gather light effectively.

The color rendition isn't top-notch, lacking the accuracy seen in modern counterparts. Post-processing demands a bit more effort, and sometimes, the photos are damn near unrecoverable. However, it bestows a vintage aesthetic, evoking simpler times.

Despite these limitations, it compensates with raw emotion.

During a recent non-profit event shoot, the camera struggled with blown-out highlights in sunlight and underexposed shadows in darker areas. It won't earn any awards for technical brilliance, yet it captures the essence of the moment—evident in the emotions portrayed by the people and the event's impact.

I’m not going to lie, for the first hour of shooting the event, I was complaining about the quality. Through the built-in screen, everything looked horrible. Years of photography experience, and I felt I wasn’t nailing any shots. 

I had unrealistic expectations, I was expecting it to perform similarly to a camera released within this decade, but that’s not what this was. 

As the event went on, I started to become attached to the images. There was no burst photo option, so I had to wait my shot out to make sure I captured it. I had to reframe images in my mind before snapping to ensure I would get the best lighting. The images, with their terrible colors, suddenly started having a soul.

When I imported the photos into lightroom, I realized how much of an impact modern tools have on old hardware. Lightroom is constantly evolving, figuring out new ways to interpret RAW files, and I was really able to push the camera to the limits while color grading to get the look I wanted from them. Sure, it didn’t have the same finite control like other cameras, however, it’s a lot more than what I would’ve been able to get if I used software from back then. Here are some samples from the events I shot over the weekend:

Why I’m Using The Camera

I find comfort in discomfort—call me a masochist, but I thrive on the challenge when photographing events. The newer and fancier the camera, the less creativity I feel. It’s weird, I get cushioned too much by the dynamic range, by being able to crop in on photos, that I’m not actually taking the time to capture the moment, but rather bursting shots and hoping for the best.
With an older camera, I intentionally limit myself. I make it a point to approach situations differently, ensuring I remain alert and never lose the fundamental skill of photography. 

I've encountered this before—getting too comfortable with my Panasonic S5. Upon transitioning back to a Panasonic GH5 (which is still considered a modern camera), I realized how much I longed for the S5's expansive dynamic range and the beautiful background blur it offered. Regrettably, this led me to miss out on capturing some crucial shots. And again, it’s not like they’d be far off, but since then, I’ve been trying to make sure I avoid this trap.

It’s a $50 investment I made on the camera, not expensive at all, and I highly recommend photographers to purchase it, but for personal use. Embrace the simplicity of its limitations to reignite your inspiration and rediscover the love you once had for this hobby. It’ll no longer be burst shooting with amazing autofocus, but instead with the limitations, you’ll find passion in your photos again, and create content with depth.

September 15, 2023

Journal Entry: Navigating Praise

Journal Entry: Navigating Praise

This isn’t a blog, it’s a gateway to the thoughts that haunt my mind.

4U Agency was invited to photograph Star Bar’s grand opening September 14th, 2023.

I’m already an awkward person as is, but when I have a camera strapped around me, I have a sudden influx of awkward jokes that spew out of my mouth to get people to laugh. 

I caught someone’s eye, and they approached me asking if they knew me. I have one of those faces, it happens, never a big deal to be honest.

We continued talking, and I mentioned how I got started in the field, and the joke all creatives have: that if we have our kids saying they want to be creatives like us, we slap it out of them because we don’t want them to suffer like we have.

I brought up Faux Creative, and the goals I have in mind to spread awareness of the deteriorating mental health of creatives, and he praised the idea, and called me a beacon of hope.

I froze up, and didn't know how to react. Not because I wasn’t thankful - I was. It’s that I don’t feel I’m at that stage yet.

It doesn’t matter how clear my vision is, it’s not complete yet.

It’s not worthy of praise yet.

I felt happy that my vision was coming to life, that people were starting to notice the issue at hand, but at the same time, it felt like I was trying to monetize the suffering of other creatives.

Even though it’s not the intention, my thoughts were flooded with the different perspectives people may have when hearing the idea.

My beginnings were humble, but I’m not talented like everyone I want to interview. Part of the reason I learned about my personal branding of Faux Creative.

I’m a designer, but I’m not an illustrator.

I’m a photographer, but I’m not at the level of a documentor.

I’m a filmmaker, but I’m not a director.

I’m a web designer, but I’m not a web developer.

I am merely a shadow of what others are able to produce, and here I am - trying to start something thinking that I, out of all people, know what I’m talking about.

I still had two hours in that building, so my thoughts bounced around that phrase for the remaining time. 

I still don’t know where I stand on it. Clearly I’m motivated enough to work on content for the website, and I’ve discussed with friends about creating a profit share system where most goes towards creatives and their choice of a non-profit for mental health, but there’s still that thought that what I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing; that there’s better people for the job that can achieve what I’m dreaming. 

We’ll see what happens.

September 14, 2023

The Creative's Guide to Setting Realistic Goals for Better Mental Health

The Creative's Guide to Setting Realistic Goals for Better Mental Health

Creativity and Mental Health are linked.

On those tough mental health days, my creativity hits a roadblock. I feel slow, start putting things off, and my mind wanders around aimlessly; it's like I'm not thinking about anything at all. I go completely blank. But on my good mental health days, I'm like a creative dynamo, bursting with ideas that spill onto the pages of my notebook, whether they're words or sketches.

The opposite holds true too. When I'm having a fantastic day full of creative juices, I feel pretty good about myself. I don't doubt my abilities, I'm not too hard on myself, and I take pride in what I'm creating. However, when I'm not doing anything creative, my mind starts to wander off.

The Creative's Dilemma

As creatives, we are often driven by ambitious dreams and ideas. It’s in our nature. However, this very ambition can become a double-edged sword when we set unrealistic goals, leading to stress, burnout, and anxiety, which can severely affect our mental health.

While it's important to aim for artistic excellence, it's just as crucial to take care of your mental well-being along the way. It all boils down to setting realistic goals.


Welcome to your digital therapy, for digital creatives who can’t afford a therapist or don’t have the time to visit with one.

Begin your journey toward setting realistic goals by engaging in honest self-reflection. Take time to assess your current mental state and where you’re at in your creative journey.

Are you feeling overwhelmed or drained by your current goals?

Are these goals sustainable in the long run?

What do I mean by sustainable in the long run? I tried to run a marketing agency on my own, doing all the website design, social media marketing, graphic design, branding, and blog writing. Sure, I had a goal of 100K in a year, but doing all the work in house by myself instead of outsourcing caused me to shoot myself in the foot. Figuratively. I ended up not having free time,my work began to slip off, I just couldn’t keep up with it.

Understanding your emotional and psychological landscape is the first step in recognizing when your goals may be causing more harm than good. Acknowledge that your creative journey is not a sprint but a marathon, and having good mental health is important to having success with your goals.

The Power of Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a cornerstone of personal growth and effective goal setting. It involves taking a step back to assess your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and in return you get the following:

  • Clarify Your Desires: It helps you understand what you truly want to achieve. By digging deep into your aspirations, you can set goals that resonate with your core values and motivations.
  • Identify Obstacles: Self-reflection allows you to identify potential obstacles or barriers that might hinder your progress. This awareness empowers you to plan proactively to overcome challenges.
  • Enhance Self-Awareness: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is essential. It enables you to leverage your strengths and work on areas that may need improvement.
  • Adjust Your Course: Self-reflection provides the flexibility to adjust your goals as needed. If your initial objectives no longer align with your evolving aspirations, you can recalibrate your path.

For me, self reflection has allowed me to understand what exactly I want from any one of my projects. It’s not about making a buttload of money, but instead, I want to have a creative output that truly allows me to be myself, a place where creatives don’t feel alone through their journey. I have clear set goals, as ambitious or as broad as it may sound, and all it took was sitting by myself and reflecting on myself and the creative idea that’s been sitting in my mind for the past couple of months.

Define Your Priorities

Identifying your top priorities, both within your creative projects and in your personal life, is a critical step.

What truly matters to you?

By aligning your goals with your core values and desires, you reduce inner conflict and stress.

The Why

Prioritization is a fundamental skill. Why? It allows you to have a better understanding of the level of importance of your goals and tasks. There may be tasks you have on your todo list that are just buffers to make you feel like you’re doing stuff, there may be others that are too complex and broad that it’ll sit on your todo list without ever being checked off. Prioritizing helps create tasks that are not only achievable but create a sense of accomplishment as well. Here’s some other pros attached to it:

  • Minimizes Being Overwhelm: Creative professionals often juggle multiple projects and responsibilities. Most of us run our creative projects alongside our 9-5 gig. Prioritization helps you focus on what matters most, reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed. Now I mention the job, don’t drop the ball there, but keep track of your off hour tasks and eliminate bad habits to make the most of it.
  • Enhances Focus: By identifying your top priorities, you can direct your energy and attention toward tasks that align with your values and long-term objectives. The more tasks you check off your lists, the more motivated you are to complete your project.
  • Boosts Efficiency: Prioritization streamlines your decision-making process. It helps you determine which tasks to tackle first, ensuring that you make the most of your time and resources.
  • Facilitates Goal Achievement: When you prioritize your goals, you increase your chances of success. You can allocate your efforts strategically to accomplish what matters most.

To illustrate the significance of prioritization, consider a scenario where a creative professional has two primary goals: completing a novel and launching a freelance design business. Both goals are important, but they require different levels of commitment and time. It’s all about what future matters to you.

It’s not picking one or the other, you can dedicate time for all of them, however if you decide to focus on the novel, you’ll lose out on the financial security that comes from creating a freelance design business. Same goes for dedicating time towards the business, you might not achieve that personal authority status that a novel might offer for you. It’s up to you to balance your time towards the goals most important to you. Don’t overwhelm yourself, remember to balance ambition and mental well-being.

Break It Down

Large, complex projects or long-term goals can often feel overwhelming. Breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks or milestones is a strategy that not only makes your goals more achievable but also provides a sense of accomplishment as you reach each milestone.

For example, you want to create a portfolio website with your past project. Instead of just jotting down on your task list “Build website”, you break it down into the basics - selecting a domain name, designing the layout, creating content, and optimizing for search engines. What works for me is dropping it further down and separating it into the different pages such as the home page, about us, portfolio, individual client pages, and contact us page. 

Each of these smaller tasks becomes a manageable step in the larger goal of your project.


Let’s get to the why decomposing tasks is important for your mental health:

  • Reduced Overwhelm: I’m going to constantly refer to this until it’s engraved in your brain. When you face a large, daunting goal, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Task decomposition transforms that big goal into a series of manageable steps, making it less intimidating.
  • Increased Clarity: Reduce Ambiguity. Instead of worrying what to do next, with the small steps, you’re able to better divert your focus towards building near perfect prototypes, rather than building an incomplete project.
  • Motivation and Momentum: Completing smaller tasks provides a sense of achievement and builds momentum. Each accomplishment fuels your motivation to tackle the next task.
  • Effective Planning: Task decomposition allows for more precise planning. You can allocate time, resources, and effort to each task with greater accuracy.

Be Specific and Measurable

Vague goals such as "be successful" or "become famous" are challenging to measure and achieve. Plus, at least for me, you probably don’t want to be famous - you just want to leave a dent in this planet we call home.

Instead, make your goals specific and quantifiable. Define success in concrete terms, such as "publish five articles in the next six months" or "complete a 30-page graphic novel by year-end." In my case, I’m perfectly content writing five pieces of content a week, even though ideally I’d like to reach seven a week.

Specific goals provide clarity and enable you to track your progress, offering a profound sense of accomplishment as you tick off each milestone along your creative journey.

I’d break down the why, but to be honest, it’s basically the same thing as decomposing, just in this case it’s making sure the small tasks are measurable to keep you motivated and accountable. When you can measure your progress, it becomes easier to hold yourself accountable, to evaluate whether you're on track or need to adjust your strategy.

Don’t make something as broad as “building a strong presence” but instead, make it something like “increase website traffic by 30% over the next 6 months” that way in 6 months, you can compare whether you’ve been successful, or go back to the drawing board.

Set Deadlines

It’s easy to create tasks, hell, it’s easy to go ahead and break them down and make them measurable. The biggest issue is creating accountability, and that’s done through deadlines. Here’s some helpful tips:

  • Be realistic: While deadlines create a sense of urgency, they should also be realistic. I personally thrive off that urgency rush, helping me stay motivated, although for some it might create a form of anxiety when working on your project, in which case it’s no bueno. Setting overly ambitious deadlines can lead to stress and compromise the quality of your work. Consider your existing commitments, creative process, and potential obstacles when establishing deadlines, and leave yourself a comfortable amount of time, while still being close enough to keep you motivated and not forgetting about your project.
  • Back To Milestones: You break down your larger goals into smaller goals, give those different deadlines in level of priority and honestly in order of what should be completed first. This approach not only provides a clear roadmap but also allows you to celebrate achievements along the way. For instance, if your goal is to complete a novel, you can set deadlines for completing each chapter, and even one for coming up with the name and artwork for it.
  • Buffer Time: Life is unpredictable, and creative projects can encounter unexpected challenges. Incorporate buffer time into your deadlines to account for unforeseen circumstances. This buffer acts as a safety net, reducing stress when unexpected delays occur.
  • Hold Yourself Accountable: Share your deadlines with someone you trust, such as a friend, mentor, or accountability partner. Knowing that someone is aware of your commitments can provide an extra layer of motivation and encouragement.

Flexibility Is Key

Life is inherently unpredictable, and creative paths often take unexpected turns. Being prepared to adapt your goals as circumstances change is not a sign of failure but a testament to your resilience and your commitment to prioritizing your mental health.

For example, this week, both my kid and partner got sick. I was unable to get much done since I had to cram my 9-5 work from home, as well as take care of my 7 month old, as well as cook and clean. If I tried to force my tasks in, it probably would’ve been rushed and not to the level I would want it to be. I didn’t want to add stress and ruin my mental health. It’s just a matter of taking a deep breath, and understanding that sometimes you need an extra day or two. 

Here’s a quick breakdown without my wit:

  • Navigating Uncertainty: Life is full of uncertainties, and creative journeys are no exception. Unexpected opportunities, challenges, or personal events may require you to shift your focus temporarily.
  • Preserving Mental Health: Rigidity in goal pursuit can lead to stress and frustration when faced with unexpected hurdles. As long as you adapt, you retain a sense of control and well-being.
  • Maximizing Opportunities: Sometimes, opportunities arise that are too good to pass up. Flexibility enables you to seize these moments without feeling burdened by existing commitments.

Celebrate Achievements

Lastly, don't forget to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrations fuel motivation and reinforce your belief in your abilities.

It’s okay to celebrate yourself, it’s not egotistical. Celebrations provide positive reinforcement for your success, keeping you away from imposter syndrome. You are capable, and celebrating will keep you pursuing your goals. I’ve done it. Every single time I complete a project or open a side business, I invite a couple of close friends and smoke a cigar while I plan on the next phases.

Your emotional well being matters. You’ve shown resilience through thick and thin in your projects and you need to recognize it. There are usually obstacles and setbacks, and those are temporary, but you showed perseverance, and overcame them, and that deserves a cake!

Remember that the pursuit of your dreams should not come at the cost of your mental health. With the right approach to goal setting, you can foster your creativity while nurturing your mental well-being, creating a sustainable path to success and fulfillment. Balancing ambition and mental health is a journey worth taking, and setting realistic goals is your compass for the road ahead.

September 11, 2023

F*ck LinkedIn - Sincerely, Everyone

F*ck LinkedIn - Sincerely, Everyone

For a more unbiased coverage on personal branding, check out the article I wrote for 4U Agency. This one is meant to be an eye opener for LinkedIn on why it’s a terrible platform, and why everyone hates it.

Dear LinkedIn,

Fix Your Algorithm. It's time for a serious overhaul. Many of us are tired of seeing posts that come off as bragging, promoting an unrealistic lifestyle. It's not a pleasant experience when, in just 10 minutes of scrolling, we're bombarded with posts flaunting net worth and waxing philosophical about why Americans should be content with being "normal" instead of constantly chasing success.

I mean, it's a bit much, don't you think? Especially when everyone knows that the posts are fake, only created to fuel your algorithm.

We shouldn't have to resort to posting content in a bragging tone just to get some attention. Let us post casually, like we do on Facebook, with short and sweet updates under 200 words. Allow us to share a link to a project we're proud of without it getting buried because we didn't turn it into a self-promotional spiel with how I can 10X any businesses.

Fix your networking connection tool. It's become a breeding ground for spam and automated connections. Tools like LinkedOfy are wreaking havoc, flooding our inboxes with scheduled messages once we've connected. This isn't like your clear-cut ad spend; it's a violation of your terms and conditions, and those accounts should be dealt with accordingly — yes, banned.

Especially those accounts that don't contribute any content or, ironically, post complaints like, "It's rude for people to ignore me when I send a message after connecting." To those individuals who knowingly use bots and then wonder why they're ignored, a reality check might be overdue.

How is it that your software can't detect when it's a bot or software sending out these mass networking invites? This has been a longstanding issue, and it's about time it was addressed.

The atmosphere on your platform is Toxic. Yet, as creatives and marketers, it often feels like we're obliged to have accounts and participate in this kind of content.

I don’t want to have to lie and create content talking about my networth or business revenue just to get retention.

I don’t want to have to write micro-blogs just to hope your algorithm will showcase my work.

I don’t want to feel like I have to turn down every networking invitation because it’s just another bot trying to get me to schedule a zoom meeting.

So, here's the deal, LinkedIn. We're looking for more authenticity, less bragging, better spam prevention, and an overall improved user experience. We know you can do better. It's time for change.



September 7, 2023

Life-Changing Impact Of A Digital Detox

Life-Changing Impact Of A Digital Detox

Be honest with me. 

How many social media accounts do you have?

Check your phone. How much time are you spending staring at your screen, scrolling through the seemingly infinite content?

For me, it's a stark reality. I spend roughly 11 hours a day staring at a screen, eight hours at work (with some breaks in between, of course), and roughly three hours at home, switching between my computer and my phone. And surprisingly enough, this is low compared to my college days.

Over the weekend, I’m only on my devices for the necessary amount of three hours, to work on this project and text back and forth ideas between creatives. In the past, I’d have to charge my devices twice a day to keep up with my usage. I'd have personal social media accounts I’d waste time on, not even building a personal brand or doing anything useful, but scrolling through memes and reposting them.

But what’s the price we’re paying for this digital tether?

What if I told you that disconnecting from the digital world, even temporarily, could be the key to unlocking a more vibrant, peaceful, and fulfilling life? 

I won't delve into any blue pill or red pill conversation here. I’ll just be speaking from experience and hoping it helps!

What is Digital Detox?

At its core, a digital detox is a conscious and temporary break from the constant stream of screens, notifications, and digital distractions.

It's a chance to step back and reevaluate our relationship with technology - to reconnect with your creative self.

Much like any habit in life, quitting cold turkey isn't always realistic, especially when it’s an integral part of our daily routines, perhaps even a requirement for our jobs. However, there are practical steps we can take to reduce our screen time outside of work.

Let’s go over the symptoms of the toxic attachment with screens.

The Symptoms

Alright, let’s speedrun this section, since odds are you’ve read or heard about this multiple times.

  • Decreased Creativity: I can already hear you through the screen. “I consume content for inspiration” and to that I raise you. Have you acted on anything? Can you recall the brilliant ideas you wanted to pursue yesterday? The overconsumption of digital content leaves little to no room for creative thinking and problem-solving, and if anything, takes away the time you could use to work on your ideas.
  • Reduced Productivity: All those constant notifications pull you away from what you’re working on. That two minute break you want to take to view some TikToks suddenly turned to fifteen. You’re not able to focus because of all the distractions linked to your device.
  • Imposter Syndrome: I bring this up in almost every single piece of content I write, maybe I’ll make a challenge to not include it in the next one. Either way, constantly consuming content builds a feeling of inadequacy. The comparisons of skills from others building their craft, constantly wondering why your life isn’t as good as a classmate you haven’t talked to for 8 years, none of that is helpful. 
  • Sleep Disruption: All that blue light? Bad for you. You’re messing with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and it leads to unhealthy sleep patterns. Take it from the guy who used to sleep 2 hours a day because I was busy scrolling through Instagram.
  • Increased Stress and Anxiety: Okay, maybe a little far fetched, but the constant need to stay connected and respond to messages can elevate stress levels and trigger anxiety. You sent a text to a friend and you’re waiting for a response… and waiting… and waiting… the thoughts start getting louder - what if they don’t like you anymore. Okay, leaned too much into the younger generation, let’s reel it back in. You just posed your latest artwork, and you were proud of it, but you didn’t get the likes you were expecting, you didn’t get your usual traction. Does that mean your artwork is bad? Does that mean you should quit?

There’s more on the list, but these were what affected me. It’s important to find a healthy digital and physical life balance to maintain a mental well-being. A digital detox worked for me, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Short Term vs Long Term

Digital detoxes can take various forms, from short-term breaks, like a weekend without screens, to more extended periods, such as a week-long or month-long detox. The choice is yours, and it should align with your goals and lifestyle.

For me, I went without a personal Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok for 2 years. I would’ve tossed Facebook into that group if it wasn’t for a mandatory account to create business pages, but that’s a rant for another day. 

I needed the break of social media, and I benefited from a long term detox, rather than hoping back on after a week or two. Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits of each, and hopefully this will help you build a detox plan.

Short Term

As mentioned, short-term digital detoxes typically last for a brief period, such as a day, a weekend, or a week.


  • They are often used to provide a quick reset, break unhealthy screen habits, and regain immediate focus and mental clarity.


  • Quick relief from digital fatigue and eye strain.
  • An opportunity to recharge and reconnect with the physical world.
  • Immediate reduction in screen-related stress and distractions.


  • May not address deeper digital dependency issues.
  • Temporary nature may lead to a quick return to old habits once the detox ends.

Suitable For:

  • People seeking short-term relief from screen-related issues, those looking to test the waters of digital detox, or those with limited time for extended breaks.

Long Term

Long-term digital detoxes typically span several weeks, months, or even longer.


  • They aim to create lasting behavioral changes, reduce digital dependence, and promote a more balanced and sustainable relationship with technology.


  • Sustainable improvements in overall well-being, including reduced stress and better sleep.
  • Opportunity for significant personal growth and development of new, non-digital interests.
  • Enhanced creativity, focus, and productivity over time.


  • Requires a more significant commitment and lifestyle adjustment.
  • May face resistance or withdrawal symptoms when attempting to cut off from digital devices for an extended period.

Suitable For:

  • Individuals looking to make profound and lasting changes in their digital habits, those aiming to break free from digital addiction, or those seeking a more substantial shift in their relationship with technology.

Building a Successful Digital Detox Plan

I’m so close to pulling an influencer, recommending either the lock box from Amazon for your phone, or using the app Forest to stay focused, but instead, I’ll go over what worked for me, and what I heard worked for others.

Clear Goals

If you’re reading this, great! You’ve made the first step towards your digital detox. Now, grab a sheet of paper and jot down why you want to start this journey. Whether it's reducing screen time, improving productivity, or reconnecting with the physical world, having clear goals will motivate you. The physical medium is just a bonus, something you can carry in your pocket when you have phantom vibrations, or within your wallet if you need a daily reminder for why you’re doing it.

Digital Declutter

This is the challenging part depending on how organized you are in the digital world. If you have separate emails from spam, mute that email channel so you don’t get any distracting dings while you’re enjoying the real world or working on something. For those who use one email and one email only, you’re going to have to spend the time going through and unsubscribing to newsletters that you know aren’t important.

iPhones have this handy dandy feature that you can create notification profiles called Focus Modes. Create one that’s meant for each stage of your day, one for work to allow work notifications and block out social media and anything extra, one for at home life when you’re spending time with your family and friends, and keep the typical do not disturb one for when you go to bed.

If you want to step it up a notch, go through and delete apps that are major time consumptions. You don't have to delete your social media profiles, but simply deleting the app removes the pesky notifications and prevents your muscle memory from reopening the app. It’s not just social media, you’re going to have to purge the games, anything that can distract you.

Offline Hobbies

One of the key aspects of a successful digital detox is finding fulfilling alternatives to screen time. This involves not only reducing your reliance on screens but also filling the void with meaningful and enriching activities. Here’s what I decided to take up:

  • Reading: Pick up a physical book or a magazine and immerse yourself in a captivating story or informative articles. Here’s the first book I started out with The Creative Act: A Way Of Being
  • Art and Creativity: Rediscover your creative side through activities like painting, drawing, knitting, or crafting. These hobbies not only stimulate your imagination but also provide a tangible sense of accomplishment. And the best part? You don’t even have to be good at it. It’s just a matter of trying something new, and growing from there. I’ve invested in so many notebooks, only to be filled with meaningless doodles that I’ll never use, but going back through and seeing the evolution of my scribbles feels good, knowing that at the time what felt useless, has improved my skills in the longrun.
  • Outdoor Activities: Spend time in nature by hiking, biking, gardening, or simply taking leisurely walks. Nature offers a serene backdrop for relaxation and reflection. If you’re going on a walk, consider practicing mindful walking. Pay close attention to each step, your surroundings, and your sensations. Become one with nature.
  • Musical Instruments: Dust off that musical instrument you haven't touched in years or start learning to play one. Music can be a powerful way to express yourself. That’s why I always have a guitar next to my desk, so I can always reach out for it when I get stressed or just need to pull away from the digital world.
  • Physical Fitness: Okay, I lied, I didn’t do this one since I’m too lazy to go to the gym across the street, but it could help you. Engage in regular exercise or yoga. These activities not only keep you physically healthy but also contribute to your overall well-being.
  • Meditation: Dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation. Focus on your breath, let go of distractions, and create mental clarity. Create a reset point for yourself, focus on the present, and move forward from there. 

Combining offline hobbies with mindfulness can create a harmonious synergy. As you engage in creative or physical activities, you'll naturally enter a mindful state, fully present in the moment. Connect yourself with the world around you. It’s okay to relapse, this isn’t an easy transition for most. Just acknowledge it, and move forward.

There’s Going To Be Challenges

Embarking on a digital detox journey can be immensely rewarding, but it's not without its challenges. Just like any significant lifestyle change, detoxing from screens may come with its fair share of obstacles. 

You might get FOMO (fear of missing out) on social events, news and updates, causing you to feel disconnected and lonely. You’re going to experience withdrawal symptoms and boredom. That’s normal. Each obstacle you conque will bring you closer to a healthier, more balanced relationship with technology. Stay resilient, stay committed.

This is probably the longest blog I’ve written so far, consuming my hour and a half of screen time for the day.

Whether you're taking your first steps toward a short-term break or committing to a long-term transformation, embrace the journey with an open heart and an open mind. The digital detox experience is not just about what you'll leave behind but the richness of what you'll discover along the way. Cheesy I know.

Embrace the challenge, celebrate your victories, and savor the moments.

September 6, 2023

Stop Procrastinating. Just Start.

Stop Procrastinating. Just Start.

This is your sign. Stop Procrastinating. Just Start.

Yes, this advice is coming from me - someone who's known for procrastinating on every dream they've ever had. 

Everything I’ve ever started, from my photography business to the marketing agency, it’s all started with an anxiety attack. And it all always started out poorly.


Because it's that chaotic energy coursing through my system that has driven me to start in the first place.

As I get older, I realize that what holds me back from starting a business, starting to blog, starting anything, is that I’m insecure about myself. Imposter Syndrome, I hate my voice, hate my language level, you name it - I’ve used it as an excuse. 

But when I'm fueled by that anxious energy, I stop worrying about what others might think of me and instead focus on bringing my vision to life before it slips away.

The energy wasn’t what caused the businesses to start poorly, it’s the fact that they were just starting up. We aren’t going to nail the vision on the first attempt. It’s meant to be a starting point, and everything from there is growth. 

I’ve had the vision for Faux Creative for months. I’ve texted it to buddies, I’ve built professional connections for future interviews (Oops, spoiler alert!), and guess what? Nothing ever happened. 

The sad truth behind why I finally pulled the trigger on this project was because I was having an anxiety attack. That’s just how it is for me.

Now, it's a matter of persevering, committing to daily blog posts, and simultaneously laying the groundwork and foundation for the future of this project.

It’s Your Turn. Stop Procrastinating. Just Start.

Don't wait for perfection, Be Authentic.

September 5, 2023

Blogging vs. Video Content- Which Is Right for You?

Blogging vs. Video Content- Which Is Right for You?

I am primarily a photographer and filmmaker when it comes to content creation - so why am I not creating Youtube videos?

Simple. I am self conscious of how I look and sound, I don’t feel I live an interesting life worth filming, and the time and effort it takes to construct, just for my imposter syndrome to take over and delete the project.

Now that I have my personal bias out of the way, let’s go over the different mediums and how they can benefit your brand.

Content creation is king, and the two behemoths that stand tall are blogging and vlogging. Each platform has its unique benefits, and it’s important to take into consideration your audience and future brand goals to see which is more beneficial for you. 

Spoiler Alert: If you can, do both.

Crafting Blogs

Let’s go ahead and knock out the universal definition of blogging - the process of creating and publishing content on a website.  It’s an ancient form of content creation compared to video creation, but it’s a staple for a reason. 

Dominating SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fundamental aspect of digital marketing, and blogging plays a pivotal role in enhancing your brand's SEO efforts. If you want to be found on Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, or any of the other obscure search engines, this is the way to go.

Long Term Value.

Depending on your frequency of blogging, you might think that your blogs are just being buried in your sitemap and even on search engines. Nope, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Once a blog post ranks well in search results, it can continue to drive traffic and provide value for months or even years without requiring additional investment. You might have to dive back in to adjust your content, whether it’s updating links or switching out some content, but other than that, it will continue to generate organic traffic.

Constant Organic? Yup.

Unlike paid advertising, which stops delivering results as soon as you stop spending money, SEO-optimized blog content can continue to attract visitors to your website for an extended period. This sustained traffic can lead to more leads, conversions, and brand exposure over time. 

And it’s not just random people and bots stumbling onto your page (although you can’t really stop bots), but it’s people that are specifically interested in what you have to provide.

By conducting keyword research and understanding your audience's pain points, you can develop blog topics that resonate with your ideal customers. This targeted approach results in higher engagement and a greater likelihood of converting readers into customers or subscribers.

In the end, you’re building credibility and trust.

When readers find valuable information on your blog, they are more likely to view you and/or your brand as an authority in your industry. This trust can lead to increased engagement, conversions, and customer loyalty.

Now The Nerdy Stuff: Analytics and Insights

You can track key metrics such as page views, click-through rates, and conversion rates and yada yada. If you’re a marketer, you get the drill.

Here’s the importance of it: these insights help you refine your SEO strategy and tailor your content to better meet your audience's needs.

You’ll be better able to analyze through Google Search Console or Google Analytics what product or topic is performing the best, to better focus your ad campaign and marketing strategies towards that. 

With a focus on specific content, you’ll be able to also improve your link building opportunities.

High-quality blog content is more likely to attract backlinks from other websites, which is a crucial aspect of SEO. When reputable websites link to your blog posts, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and authoritative. This can improve your website's overall domain authority, further boosting your rankings in search results.

All that can be seen and analyzed through the analytics and search console platforms.

Why I Blog

I have this vision in my head of what I want Faux Creative to be, and for it to get to the level I am aiming for, I need to create evergreen content that will continue to bring in traffic to the website, all while being flexible in time.

Unlike Youtube’s algorithm, I don’t need to post at a constant schedule or have a viral video for my content to be promoted.

I also don’t need to spend days editing a video that won’t be editable while launched.

I’m a new dad, with a 9-5 job. I don’t have the time to create daily or weekly video content, without interfering with my family time.

Blogging gives me that flexibility. I am able to crank out 5 to 7 a week depending on how much free time I have, and if I feel I made a mistake, I can always go back and edit the website to correct it, without spending hours re editing and rendering.

Creating Visual Content

Video is a powerful tool. Regardless of whether you want to create cinematic vlogs, product videos, tutorials, or even just upload gaming content - you want to be on Youtube. 

Youtube is the second largest popular search engine, with a user combined watch time of 1 billion hours a day. That’s right, besides Google, no other search engine can compete. We’ve become visual creatures, and it’s important to target that demographic.

Building A Personal Connection.

People support those they love. When your audience sees and hears you on camera, they connect with you on a human level. This face-to-face interaction fosters a sense of familiarity and trust that's challenging to achieve through written content alone.

As people, we love authenticity.

By being yourself and showcasing the real, unfiltered aspects of your brand, you can create a genuine bond with your audience. 

Best part? You can interact with your audience.

Regardless of if they respond with a comment, or send you a selfie video with their questions, that two-way communication builds a sense of community and shows that you value your viewers and their input.

Yeah, you can do the same through written content, but it’s not the same. As personable as you can make your blogs, you’re still just a blob of text, they don’t see the person behind the screen.

Telling A Story.

Video is a powerful medium for storytelling. Vlogs enable you to share personal anecdotes, behind-the-scenes moments, and the journey of your brand, all while creating an emotional connection with your audience. You are making them feel like they're a part of your story.

While communicating your story, depending on how you edit your videos, you are targeting multiple senses - sight and sound. You’re recreating your experience for the viewer, making the visual more captivating, and easier to express your message.

Do I Plan To Create Youtube Videos?

There’s so many benefits for creating video content, that it’d be stupid of me to not pursue it. As I hinted in the beginning, I’m not comfortable with who I am.

Similarly to how I wasn’t comfortable with writing blogs. I constantly feel like I know nothing, and that my language level is low where it feels a middle schooler probably wrote this.

The thing is that the only way to get over this fear - this mental block - is to create content, and throw it in the wild without worrying about what others might think. The first of anything is never great. Hell, the second could probably be worse. But by the time you get to your 100th, you're able to feel more comfortable with your video aesthetic and be proud of the content you're creating, or at least not as self-critical as you used to be.

Many successful brands, personal or business, blend blogging and video content to create a well-rounded portfolio. 

Ultimately, the choice between blogging and vlogging should reflect your brand's unique identity, goals, and audience preferences. It's not about which is superior; it's about which is right for you. That means do both. So, embark on your content creation journey with confidence, knowing that the power of your creativity can shine through whichever path you choose.

September 4, 2023

From Silence To Strength | Day I Lost My Voice

From Silence To Strength | Day I Lost My Voice

In a previous blog about social anxiety, I talked about how it's difficult for me to make friends and socialize, and that I felt I was never missing out on anything since I enjoyed being alone.

That is far from the truth.

February 2020 changed everything for me. I suffered an anxiety attack, but it wasn't like any other. I found myself unconsciously chewing my tongue and cheek till they were raw and bleeding.

All that damage I was causing to myself, and I was still focused on the thoughts that were spiraling out of control.

The end result was a month and a half of torment. I was unable to speak, eat, or even laugh without causing pain and ripping the healing wounds in my mouth.

For 5 long weeks, I lived off jello, applesauce, and room temperature soup (just liquid, no bits). Even these soft meals caused my wounds to open, leaving a metallic-y blood taste every single time.

I thought I could tolerate it, but I started fainting in my apartment randomly, and I was unable to stay a full shift at work, so with the last remaining energy I had, I drove to my parents 20 minutes away, knocked on the door, and passed out on the doorsteps.

I didn't want to resort to living with my parents during that moment, but I knew if I stayed living on my own, I wouldn't be able to fully recover, so I put my ego aside, and let my parents try their best to help.

I hated people looking at me with pity. During that period, I lost 40 pounds, and looked like I was clinging to life.

I couldn't work.

I couldn't eat.

I couldn't talk to anyone without resorting to texting the person who was literally across from me to have a discussion.

I cried in the shower, hoping that no one could hear that I was at my breaking point. And when I got out, I tried my best to smile, knowing it would cause a rip inside, but hoping they would assume I'm doing better.

I accepted my fate at one point. I started learning sign language, in case that was the only way I could communicate with anyone, and in efforts to gain back energy, I started boxing.

It took a while to recover, but the day I felt it was all healed and got the clear from the doctors, I tried talking. I had an accent, and it made me cry and smile, and I kid you not I spent $100 on multiple fast food places since I craved and missed the taste of food.

As I type this out, I'm shedding tears. It's a vivid memory, but it shows me how much I took talking for granted. As much as I hate that period of my life, I hold it tight across my chest, because it's help me understand that I have a voice, and I want to share my thoughts with the world.

September 1, 2023

Faux Creative: What Is The End Goal?

Faux Creative: What Is The End Goal?

What Is Faux Creative?

Honest answer, couldn't tell you. It's a work in progress, but with a vision.

Faux Creative is meant to be a haven for creatives, whether you're a musician, poet, designer, photographer, you name it.

Too often, we find ourselves stuck in jobs that pay the bills but drain our passion, turning us into mere "faux" versions of ourselves. This leads to creative work that falls short of our true potential.

My Origin Story

My first job as a designer/marketer was at a real estate company. I juggled social media for eight-plus agents, helped build websites, and did all the property photography and videography – and all that for a cool $14 an hour,. That's right, California minimum wage at the time baby!

It wasn't enough to make ends meet, and despite promises of raises that never materialized, I gave it my all. I Brought on ideas, invested in equipment, and learned to improve my craft to ensure I could prove to myself and everyone that marketers hold value - we're not just people who you can misvalue because "art isn't a career". But as time passed, the job wore me down. I started showing up late, leaving early, taking shortcuts in my work, and the promise of a better future faded. The constant criticism of my work ethic, even though I was the one bringing in leads to avoid door-knocking, got to me.

The best part: the owner knew what he was doing, so much that I couldn't go by my real name while sending out emails to avoid anyone trying to hire me on the side; my name was Jolu. I was undervalued for my wage, but clearly I made a dent because I could no longer go by my own name.

I ended up in a mental hospital from all the stress. 5 days of vacation for a whopping price of $2500 in medical bills.

When I got back, I made multiple comments for a raise, since I felt that would be the jolt I needed to fuel my creativity again, maybe it was just bills wearing at me and not necessarily the job. Two months later after making comments, I got called in to the boss's office for a raise.

Great right?

Nope. It was a 25 cent raise. Not even to keep up with inflation.

Long story short - I ended up leaving the job because I knew at the end of the day, I was no one to them; I was just a replaceable designer.

Where am I getting at with this?

I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Many in the creative world, whether designers, photographers, or artists, go through similar journeys. We often undervalue ourselves and rush into jobs just to make a living, hoping to avoid the ones that'll drive us insane.

Even now, 5 years later, I find myself still struggling to hold on to the creative rush while employed. Luckily for me, I landed a pretty solid gig at Sun Control, that allows me to be flexible with how I produce content, so that rush never goes away. I'm always able to produce content I'm proud of, or at least know I'm improving in my craft with every post, every design, every ad campaign.

But I really need to lean in how lucky I got. In the span of 5 years, I've worked at 7 jobs relating to a creative field, and I'm just about to hit my first year anniversary on October.

Freedom Of Creative Expression Can Lead To A Healthier Mind

Passion for mental health is at the core of my journey. I understand that many creatives grapple with mental health challenges, and I've experienced this firsthand. As someone with schizophrenia, the traditional office environment just doesn't for me. I need the freedom to roam with a camera, retreat to a closed space where I can spontaneously sketch my thoughts, and immerse myself in music while writing a blog to keep my mind engaged.

Without a creative outlet and the flexibility to adapt, I start to unravel. Anxiety takes hold, my thoughts race uncontrollably, and I'm consumed by visions and ideas that demand out of my head.

Reading "The Creative Act: A Way Of Thinking" brought clarity to everything. The concept of Source, a ceaseless metaphysical energy akin to the ever-shifting seasons of our Earth, resonated deeply.

These are the voices that I'm hearing.

As creatives, we tap into this wellspring of energy, channeling it into art, which in turn becomes a reflection of our thoughts and emotions about life. Art is an embodiment of our existence.

We should be able to freely channel the source - for better creative expression and for better health.

I want to create that safe haven for every creative. #AuthenticSelf

September 3, 2023

Building A Work From Home Office

Building A Work From Home Office

I've always been a fan of the Youtube videos about dream set-ups, and don't get me wrong, they are always stunning, however, I do not have that kind of money.

I don't need the fanciest of things, just something functional to be able to work comfortably from work for my creative bursts of energy.

Took me two months, but I finally got to a stage where I feel comfortable sharing my work from home setup.

Here’s a quick part list with links for a TL;DR.

Now to justify the purchases to feel better about draining my wallet.

The Desk Literally Everyone Has

Ikea Alex Drawers with Desk Top
Peep the girlfriend's desk in on the side. Same Alex Drawers, just a much better table top.

Ikea's known for its budget-friendly furniture, often showing wear within the first year.  Part of this desk fits that stereotype, but the other half holds its own.

The tabletop is your standard Lagkapten, a package deal with the Alex Drawers from the Ikea website. Nothing to write home about – it stretches 55 inches wide and gives my deskpad a cozy home.

The biggest issue is the quality.

The material is flimsy, and after a couple of months, the board will start to sag with the weight it has on it. Luckily, the board can always be replaced with a thicker material or solid butcher block in the future.

The Alex drawers however are built to last.

These bad boys are the Hercules of the desk world. Once they’re in place, they're solid and glide like a dream – a stark contrast to some of those other wobbly desk setups.

And storage? You betcha!

They're holding my DIY tools, all the extra tech goodies, and the odds and ends that keep my fidgety hands busy throughout the day. The tabletop may give out, but the Alex drawers are set to last for years!

Great Chair For The Price

I'm all about the Ikea Markus chair. Why? Well, first off, it's got the height that suits my back and headrest like a glove. I’m able to lean back,  and the chair takes care of the height adjustment on its own, ensuring I'm perfectly balanced.

But wait, there's more – I managed to snag it for free.

Living in the city has its perks, one of them being that folks are always on the move and looking to offload stuff without the fuss of selling. Cue the Facebook Marketplace jackpot – there it was, listed for zilch, and I swooped in like a champ to claim it.

Now, let's talk price tags. Would I drop the full $250-ish dollars they usually ask for? Probably not, it would be outside my price range. But keep an eye out for those future discounts, when it drops under the $200 price, and you've got yourself a seriously recommended chair that won't break the bank.

Small But Mighty

The AudioEngine A2+ speakers are true legends in the realm of audio. Despite their compact form, they find their place elegantly on your desk, whether nestled under a monitor or standing proudly beside it. And let me tell you, these little guys may be small, but they sure pack a punch.

How loud?

My current settings are half spun on the dial of the speakers, and on my windows laptop... it’s a 2… out of 100. If I put it at 4, I will get yelled at by my girlfriend again.

To be fair, she did admit that she loved the sound of them, she just doesn’t like my music ☹.

When it comes to content consumption and gaming, these speakers shin, however if you do a lot of creative work, the speakers don’t have a flat tuning profile, so you won’t get the most natural sound out of them.

My primary use case as home has been jamming out to Spotify or playing Overwatch, and I can hear the footsteps as the enemy approaches, and while working on blogs like the one you’re reading, the music sounds perfect and prevents my mind from numbing out.

Please For The Love Of God, Don’t Get The Printer

The HP Tango – I dig its size, but the ink's a letdown. You'll barely squeeze out 30 sheets before the nagging ink subscription alerts start. For a more zen printing experience, I'd steer you towards any printer from Epson's Ecotank collection. If only they had a Tango-sized option – I'd snap it up in a flash!

Core Accessories

One of my biggest pet peeves is having wires running throughout my desk, and wireless mice and keyboard fix most of that problem.

Keychron K2 Custom Keyboard With Custom Keycaps

I’ve tried an abundant amount of keyboards, from the Apple keyboard, to the MX Keys, to fully customized mechanical keyboards, and I keep coming back to the Keychron 2. It doesn’t have the best pull rate and latency when it comes to gaming, however, for everyday office work, it’s the best option out there. For less than $100, you can get a decent sounding keyboard out of the box, and for a couple of bucks more, you can make it truly your own with custom keycaps, different switches (I personally use quiet linears), and some foam for that thockier sound.

Logitech MX Master 3S
Wear and tear from constant usage

For the mice, there’s no competition. MX Master 3S. Just grab it, don’t waste your time with gaming mice or any other cheap wireless mice. For video production, the side scroll wheel is a game changer, and I’ve fallen in love with the infinity scroll, where the wheel glides near frictionless to reach the bottom of the page or the top near instant. I couldn’t live with another mouse to be honest.

It’s why I have two, one at the office, one at home.

The Brains And Power Of The Desk

LG Gram 14 and Razer Core X
Peep the laptop skin. Decal from Sun Control of Minnesota

I used to have a dedicated desktop PC, made for heavy video editing and gaming. It was great, could handle any task I threw at it with no hiccup. However, when my kid was born, I had to make some sacrifices and got rid of all my toys since we lived in a one bedroom apartment and needed space. Now that we moved to a 2 bed 2 bath apartment, I have the space to build a workstation, but I don’t really need that much as I thought I did.

Say hello to my MVP – the LG Gram 14 2023, a 2-in-1 laptop. Armed with its beefy 12-core Intel i7-1360p processor, it's a champ at handling my everyday tasks – browsing, photo tinkering, light video editing, and watching Youtube. The laptop also runs on Intel Dedicated graphics, which means its battery life rivals that of MacBooks. I’m never left wondering if the laptop will make it to the end of the day.

For extra horsepower, that’s where the Razer Core X comes in.

The Core X is an external GPU enclosure that works with laptops with Thunderbolt 3 /4 ports, to add an external graphics card. It won’t give you the same performance as having it seated on a desktop computer, but it’s a night and day difference between integrated graphics and the NVIDIA 1060 it’s currently encasing.

Now, let's level with reality – not everyone needs this setup, but if you're all about a single, versatile system, these two work in perfect harmony. Who would've thought? I'm gaming on a sleek, lightweight machine that moonlights as my work partner throughout the day. It's like having the best of both worlds without any compromise.

The Window To My Digital Realm

The Eve/Dough Spectrum is overkill – a 4K monitor with 100% sRGB color accuracy, featuring HDR (only 6 zones though so really not great), and 144hz for a smooth gaming experience. I won’t need to upgrade monitors anytime soon.

I've got a soft spot for minimalism, and my desk is a testament to that. Near everything's dipped in a shade of black, including the monitor. It caught my eye for more than just its specs; it's the design that sealed the deal. This isn't your run-of-the-mill gaming monitor. No flashy logos smacked on the screen, no weird RGB light show. It's a clean, professional-looking slate that just does what it's supposed to – plain and simple.

However, Do not buy the monitor from Dough. Do your research before making a purchase, the company has been known to take ages to deliver the product, with some customers who preordered the monitor not the product or a refund. I get it, it happens with startups, but check eBay and try to grab it from the used market, at least then you’ll be guaranteed a product.

That’s what I did. Got a killer deal too.

Is My Setup Complete?

Functionally, yes it is. I have everything I can to get me going through my workday, yet I have a couple of things on my wish list.

My wall behind the monitor is baren. I want to figure out a way to personalize it without buying a generic print, whether that be photo prints of my previous work, or printing out images or friends and family.

One last product I have been eyeing for a while is a Grovemade Desk Shelf. It’s way out of my budget, however, I think it’d make a nice addition in the future to store any Knick knacks and catch all.

Regardless of what my plan is when I sit down, I want to feel inspired. It’s not a permanent setup, like everything in life, we have to adapt to change and growth, but for now everything in my box is ticked.

September 3, 2023

The Inescapable Grasp of Social Anxiety

The Inescapable Grasp of Social Anxiety

Starting off with a bang – sharing my struggle with being social, putting it all out there on the internet.

Crowds and I don't mix.

It's been a battle since I was a kid. At parties, I'd stick to my parents like glue, never straying, just like a puppy following its owner.

While most people in high school aim to be popular or just befriend everyone with ease, I stuck with one group of friends; and if I couldn't find them for some reason, I'd just sit alone during lunch by the band room until the bell rang.

It's not as sad as it might sound. I never felt alone, I just genuinely preferred being by myself.

I started coming out of my shell a bit when I got my first job at Carl's Jr. I was a cashier, and I had to push myself because, well, I needed the job. Luckily, it was mostly one-on-one interactions with customers, where I was able to hold my own through mirroring personalities.

But when it came to big groups, I'd pretty much go silent. I'd take orders, hand out receipts, and that was it – a quick hi and bye.

Review from my employment at Carl's Jr.
Because Jorge makes it better!  He was hiding his very infectious smile. Super sweet and very energized. He has made my long terrible dreadful day much happier. He runs from station to station hopping as he goes with a smile.  Give this young man a happy bonus.

Over the first six months, I got by - peep the yelp review. But my coworkers would start to catch on and call me a fake, because I've shuffle personalities too often, it was as if I didn't have my own.

They were right.

I dropped the job after 6 months of working there. Every job I landed after (until 2021) was dropped after 6 months since I felt that after that time period, people would always be able to see through me. See that I was a fake.

Then I got a job at Costco, and I was kind of excited to do the thing everyone else hated: pushing carts around in the heat, and even in the rain.

It was honestly a dream job at the time. I didn't have to talk to anyone, and I was getting paid while staying active. Everything was going fine until they threw me into the credit card department, signing up as many Costco members as I could before they walked out the shop.

I managed okay for the first few days, even got more sign-ups than the average joe. But as time went on, my anxiety started getting worse. I really didn't like having to go up to strangers and basically force them to sign up for a credit card.

Every no broke me.

Every time I was ignored, or brushed past, a part of me died on the inside. It's why every time I see a sales rep at a store try to talk to me, I engage with them, and politely decline their offer. They're human beings, they don't deserve to feel broken.

To cope with everything, I had to resort to getting back on meds, which, thanks to side effects, decreased my efficiency at work.

I went to my boss at the time and asked if I could go back to pushing carts because I was having anxiety attacks far too often - I just needed a reset.

Instead of understanding, I was greeted with phrases that still haunts me to this day:

We liked you better before you were medicated.

or my "favorite":

So, do you go home and like slice your wrists after work or?

I've never noped out of a job faster than I did that day. Finish out the shift in tears, crying as I pushed carts, and quit as soon as I clocked out.

This was all six or seven years ago, and I've had a lot of jobs in between, but guess what? Things haven't really changed.

Just last week, I tried to go to a networking event on my own. I thought I could handle talking about our marketing agency 4U Agency on a networking cruise since it's one of my passion projects.

I hyped myself up, I knew it was just a mental block I could overcome right? It's something I'm passionate about, something I've worked on for years now, and I felt I was comfortable with who I am and how I appear in public.

But you know what happened? I walked onto the boat, and as I the door creaked while opening it, I could see everyone staring at me. I felt I had done something horribly wrong.

15 seconds.

In 15 seconds, my mind spiraled out of control. My hands shaking as I tried to put on my nametag. Why is it taking me so long to put it on??? People are probably judging that I've been here now a while and haven't even said hello. I need fresh air.

I stood outside the boat and tried to collect my thoughts, but I couldn't. I felt that if I walked back in, the stares would be stronger. I just caused a scene right? A guy stormed out within seconds of stepping foot. I couldn't show my face again could I?

I didn't. I went home.

I just couldn't do it.

The next day, I walked into my boss's office. Shame dripping over my face, head down. 

I'm sorry I wasted company money, and couldn't even stay for 15 seconds.

It was just $35 to get into the event. I shouldn't have felt so guilty about $35, but I did.

I didn't make any sales, didn't say a single word. And I did the math on the drive home - that event ended up costing $2.33 for every second I was there, $9.33 per minute, or a crazy $559.80 per hour.

I was motivated. I was ready.

And I still failed.

My boss said something that stuck with me. What am I going to do when my kid has events? Sporting events, concerts – am I going to bail on those too? I can't be the parent who's always avoiding things, who makes my kid feel like I don't care about his stuff; like I didn't love him.

I have to break free from this mindset.

If not for me, for my son.

So, here I am, going for round two.

This time, I'm doing a couple of things differently:

  • Sticking to the buddy system so I have someone to fall back on
  • Wearing sunglasses to avoid any awkward eye contact if my eyes start darting around anxiously

My friend's going to make sure I stick with it, no matter how anxious I get.

Let's see how it goes.