Not everything that happens is in our control, and that goes for both good and bad things.
Nearly every individual success that any one person has can be attributed to someone else taking time to listen, offer aid or provide resources. When it comes to life's struggles, the perception that life is an objectively fair meritocracy can actually be deeply harmful for people whose circumstances disprove that in a number of ways.
At the same time, many, if not most, people are hardwired to struggle and aim for more or better, rather than giving up. Figuring out how to do that in work situations can be difficult if you're stuck in "analysis paralysis": You have no idea what to do next, or feel like giving up. As Adam Kurtz, the author of the new book Things Are What You Make of Them sees it, any small action is actually better than inaction.
"I started writing these short, handwritten essays about new challenges and experiences I was facing as a 'creative professional'. Though I've been making and sharing my art as a hobby for about 10 years, I only went full time about two years ago," he tells Refinery29.
"I realised that most of my challenges weren't actually unique at all, but commonly shared anxieties, fears, and stresses that all types of people shared. Whether your career is specifically in a creative industry — artists, writers, photographers, entrepreneurs, etc. — or you are just the kind of person who is always working on or making something, we all face a lot of intangible emotions, most of which stem from within ourselves."
In Things Are What You Make of Them, Kurtz shares mini-essays of how he deals with the intangibles that can keep people stuck, overwhelmed, or afraid to move forward. He also confronts the idea of what concepts like happiness and success look like to people in creative or more traditional industries.
"I'm the kind of person that supports my friends fully, but keeps it real," he explains. "A true friend doesn't just tell you what you want to hear, they call you out on your shit early before someone else does" — in the hopes of pushing you forward.
Ahead, Kurtz shares excerpts from his book, and talks a bit more about what we can all learn about how to move forward.