Thoughts on Collaboration

I’ve always had a really hard time working with other people. It’s not necessarily that I do not like working with others, I do. I love bouncing ideas off of other people and creating something that we can all love and appreciate and be proud of. I love the energy of creating with other people. It’s a high like no other and it offers up valuable insight that you would not have seen if you were working alone.

The problem comes in after that. Once the idea has been created and fleshed out, then comes the doing part. I’ve had various experiences in this and it usually goes one of two ways.

Situation A: We come up with a brilliant idea and begin the process of giving out tasks to get the idea into reality. I end up doing my part, getting things done sometimes early and sometimes not but it will always be done by the due date set. However, when the due date rolls around no one else has done anything and I end up having to do the whole thing to get it to it’s completed phase and end up burnt out and pissed off vowing to never work with someone again.

Situation B: We come up with a brilliant idea and begin the process of giving out tasks to get the idea into reality but no one but me wants to do anything. So I become the sacrificial lamb and offer myself up. I stress and freak out and push my self and end up burnt out and pissed off vowing to never work with someone again.

It has happened time and time again. Before I move forward I want to clarify one thing, however, to those that know me personally: I in no way want to make it seem like the projects I worked on with my husband in the past weren’t great. We worked well together. I did my part, he did his. I love working on things with him. His brain amazes me and I love how he makes me think outside of my comfort zone. His support got me through some very dark nights and his abilities helped lift the burden I felt had been thrown onto me. Regardless, here’s some of my backstory.

I spent my youth playing in and managing bands. I would book the shows, set up the practice, do the social media, the art, the promotion, setting the dates for releases, etc. I also made the majority of the merch we sold.

I ran a podcast. I did social media, the recording, the editing, the site maintenance, and tons of other background work including booking and doing interviews and setting the recording dates as well as making most of the merch and scheduling.

I ran a zine. I did the layout, the filtering for the pieces submitted, the printing, the stapling, the distro-ing, the promoting, and even wrote a few pieces.

I ran a record label. I did the screen printing, the art, the website, the social media, the website upkeep, and the communication with bands.

I was a promoter. I booked events and shows and did the social media work, contacting the bands, came up with set times and all the other crap a promoter needs to do that I can’t even remember right now.

I was a freelance web and graphic designer. I worked with clients to create the product they wanted and made a shit ton of flyers and art for local bands. This, out of all of the things I did with other people was probably the easiest because there were less hands involved.

There was a time when I did this all the same time. Tim helped me with all of this, but it was still way to much for just two people to do. We had a group of people that worked with us, but it felt like there was one let down after another. I was exhausted. So was he. Want to talk about burnt out? I was dead tired and dead tired of people.

So the question needs to be raised. Was it me? Was I pushing to hard and in the process pushing people away? Was there simply just too much to do and the overwhelm leaked into all aspects of my life? Were the projects we were working on just not up to par to other peoples expectations? Maybe all of the above?

Honestly, probably all of them. I had gotten into the mode of it all has to be done and be done at this time and in this way and if it isn’t done then I will just do it myself and be pissed. There was so much to do literally everything was suffering and the original heart that started the projects got lost somewhere in a never ending to do list that was destroying my soul and my health. I was in a very unhealthy and resentful cycle that I couldn’t see the end to. So one day, I literally threw my hands up in the air, cried, and said FUCK THIS. I closed shop on everything, went into hiding, and that was that.

After doing a ton of self-work I realized that sometimes I may be a slight control freak in certain situations. I have a habit of being the go-getter and the one to take control of a situation. Partially because I like having the control and partially because I don’t always trust that others will follow through and partially because people don’t always do things up to my standards. I didn’t set boundaries. I didn’t give other people the option to do things in their own way. I was a controlling bitch. BUT, I got shit done.

The older I get it has been much easier to set boundaries and go with the flow of things and to truly work with people and trust them to do their part and if they don’t do their part? I at least did what I was supposed to do and maybe the project wasn’t meant to be anyway. And my poor husband is grateful for the change. I’m happier. He’s happier. We still work on things, still have our own projects, but it’s different now.

Despite all of that, I learned in the process that I really do work best on my own. I can work on my own time, in my own way, and get things done the way I want. I learn from my mistakes and grow through them. At this point there is no one to blame for anything other than myself and I like it that way.

A few weeks ago Coven Market had a collaboration post where people could post what they did and put out a call if anyone wanted to work with them. I interacted with a few people and one of them stuck. We chatted a bit on messenger. I was nervous. I had my inhibitions. What if our personalities clash? What if we don’t work well together? What if I can’t create or do what they want? And then all the past came pummeling down around me and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to take a dive into this pool just yet. (It’s been four years plus maybe since I quite my life and fell away from the public world.)

We chatted some more but I was still reluctant. We came up with a few ideas on things we could do. I almost told her I wasn’t feeling it. But I took a breath, I forced myself to step back and go with the flow of the situation and see where it would take me. We chatted some more. Got things concrete. The chats continued and I started to actually really enjoy it. Oh! This is how collaboration and people are supposed to work together? Wish I would have known this years ago.

This entire year has been about me taking steps outside of my comfort zone. Pushing myself step by step to the next level. It’s been slow but it’s been amazing. My creativity has soared, I’ve pushed myself further with my art than I ever thought that I would. Part of that has been learning to truly trust myself and to trust the people that I work with.

Needless to say, I’m very happy I took that step and did this little collaboration project. Here is my Art. And the writing is Tracy’s.

The lesson from this whole piece? Push yourself out of what you are comfortable with. You will never grow until you do. ❤ (Also not all people are bad and scary and dumb. Some are, but not all. And also own up to your own shit. Sometimes the problem might just be you?)

Love to you all!

One thought on “Thoughts on Collaboration

  1. Love this post. I believe that the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to consistently seek to know ourselves better, and to strive to become the best person that we can be. We are all such a mess of beautifully simple and complex parts, and for me, seeking, uncovering and getting to know these parts of myself isn’t always easy, but there is a magical lightness, and freedom that comes with embracing who I truly am. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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