Conquering Self-Doubt as “The Gay Male Creative Solo Entrepreneur”
Someone asked me recently what I did for a living. Fair question, common question, but I gave an uncommon answer: “I’m a licensed psychotherapist and life/business coach who focuses on helping the gay male creative solo entrepreneur close the gap between how life is, and how he would like it to be.”
Blank stare. Followed by, “What (TF) is a ‘gay male creative solo entrepreneur’??”
I explained that over the past 5 years or so (among the 18 years I’ve done psychotherapy and coaching with gay men and gay male couples), I’ve been seeing more and more guys in my practice who are 1) gay male (that’s for starters; that is my specialty); 2) self-employed; 3) in a creative field (TV writers, screenwriters, journalists, photographers, fashion designers, actors, architects, interior designers, etc.); 4) recently started their business and are looking for the support to grow it in profitability, influence, prestige, and satisfaction; and 5) all while balancing that with a healthy and robust personal life in their health, relationships, mental outlook, fitness, and finances.
Oh, is that all?
These are the traits that “my guys” (as I affectionately call my clients) have in common, and it’s fascinating. Supporting another’s personal and professional growth, what I call “the development of the Personal and Professional Self”, is very rewarding (and effective) work.
My conversation with this stranger got me to thinking about other things “my guys” have in common. Much of our work is about eliminating the self-doubt that stands between where they are today and where they want to be. It makes sense; gay men grow up with so much crap in the negative messages we are raised hearing in our society: “different”, “sick”, “bad”, “wrong”, “anti-family”, “weak”, “illegitimate”, “undeserving”, “less than” — or even the latest one in some state politics, “separate but equal” (such as “civil unions” — cuz, you know, we’re just not “good enough” to have the full marriage rights that straight people do). Is it any wonder, then, that later in life as adults we have self-doubt when trying to start, run, and maximize a business as a self-employed creative professional?
Part of what I do with clients includes teaching them the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy skills to chip away at self-doubt and ultimately eliminate it. It can be done; no matter how many homophobic messages you were exposed to growing up (and even that continue today, every day in the news), you CAN learn to apply critical thinking to them and “disarm” them, realizing that YOU are not the sick/bad/wrong one, THEY are for being homophobic, ignorant, and just plain hateful in the first place.
If you have self-doubt in your ambitions to grow as a creative professional, you’re not focusing on the craft enough. If you doubt that you’re “any good” as a writer, then you need to snap out of it and get back to concentrating on why Act III of your spec script doesn’t work yet. If you doubt that you’re any good as a fashion designer, you need to get back to your sketches and think about what would look fabulous on the aging actress who has commissioned you to make a dress for her. Self-doubt is a luxury of “mental real estate” that we cannot afford; every second you spend on self-doubt is money out of your pocket because you’re not focused instead on growing your business.
Lots of things can help. Reading the blogs of inspirational people (looks like you’ve already started that, kiddo 🙂 ) like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan, and balancing working “in” your business (doing your design, writing, etc.) and “on” your business (networking and marketing like crazy) will help. Certainly, having a weekly coaching or therapy session to keep you focused, accountable, energized, and inspired can help. Let me know if that last bit might be of interest to you. 🙂
For more information, or to schedule a free 15-minute consultation or an appointment for therapy or coaching, call/text 310-339-5778, or email Ken@GayTherapyLA.com.