At first, when the Adobe blog post about the invited “Adobe Insiders” was published, I was excited to check out everyone’s profiles and look at their Instagram pages. I didn’t look at everyone because I quickly began to suffer from an inferiority complex and a massive wave of insecurities hit me. Even though I was one of only 3 Adobe Insiders chosen from India ( and one couldn’t even make it unfortunately ), I was still struck by how much more talented everyone else from all over the world was. And I couldn’t miss the number of Instagram Followers and YouTube Subscribers most of them had.
Most of me was thrilled to have been chosen by Adobe to come for the Adobe Max Creativity Conference for a second time. But, some part of me was not looking forward to it. I was already comparing my self and my work and my number of followers to everyone else’s work and following numbers. Logically, at the back of my head, I know this is pointless, of course.
Everyone is different. How they got to where they are – that is different. How they use their creativity tools ( cameras, laptops, tablets, phones, software, etc. ) – that varies. Privilege varies. The availability of tools varies from country to country. Comparing myself – positively or negatively – was not going to help.
But I was SO SCARED that I almost cancelled everything at the last minute. I lost track of the number of times I told Bharat that I did not feel like going at all. I didn’t even want to start packing. The fear was incredibly more than I had imagined possible, and I was looking for excuses.
What were these other 117 Adobe Insiders going to think of me and my work when they met me? I’m a nobody and my work is so-so. I don’t even use most of the Adobe software that almost all the others have MASTERED. What was Adobe thinking! Inviting me to a creativity conference where I clearly did not deserve to be. There are far more talented folks in India that they could have picked.
Anyway. As you know by now, I made it to Los Angeles for my second Adobe Max.
I packed my camera and my laptop begrudgingly. I even planned my outfits. I mean, I WAS excited but I was more scared.
Got to the Los Angeles area a couple of days before the start of the conference. 24 hours flying in was not as bad as I’d expected. I stayed in Santa Clarita before moving to the Intercontinental in DownTown Los Angeles for the duration of the conference.
Checked in to the hotel. Then ran to JW Marriott to register early. There were about sixteen thousand people expected at the conference. It’s always wise to get your registration done before the crowds descend. Then I ran to the LA Convention Center to pick up my Adobe Max hoodie.
Late lunch with the other Adobe Insider from India. Took leftovers to the hotel room. Was STILL not looking forward to the next day. The WhatsApp group was starting to fill up with the other Adobe Insiders from all over the world.
The next day, I started meeting the OTHERS. Reluctantly at first and then with much gusto. Most of them seemed to know each other from before. Which made my insecurities worse. I’m good at chatting up complete strangers, usually. But not when they seem to be familiar with their surroundings and I’m feeling out of place.
It turns out, I was worried about things I did not need to even think about. Literally everyone was a SWEETHEART. Millions of followers notwithstanding.
When I was whining to my Japanese friend about how insecure I was feeling, she said, “Well. They can buy followers you know.” HAHA. Friends are the best.
Conversations that included, “How many followers do you have on Instagram?”, were not my favourite. My Instagram account has about fifty thousand followers. “Oh. That’s not bad.” Uh. Ok. Not surprisingly, these questions were usually posed by non-conference people. ( I met a few of those in LA. )
When M. Night Shyamalan gets on stage to tell more than 700,000 people that he has suffered from the same insecurities that most creatives do, it made me feel ok about myself. I knew it was ok earlier too. But hearing someone so accomplished and successful say it publicly was VERY endearing. I’ve always known about my weaknesses. Like insecurities. But I’ve never known what to do about them. How to get over them.
During Adobe Max, I figured that the best way would be keep on keeping on. Continue doing what I do. One foot in front of the other. I might never know what I’m doing but I’m doing it anyway. And that should keep my insecurities at bay.
Some of the coolest people were also some of the MOST chill.
I’ve spent far too much time living in the cesspool that is Delhi. Shit gets to you. And you don’t even know it. Till you’re forced to go to a different city, meet a hundred different creatives who are much better than you – and probably much nicer than most of the folks you meet in Delhi.
It’s been a revelation.
I’m still scared.
I’ve been thinking about RELEVANCE more and more as I get older.
During this trip, I figured that no matter what I do, it ( and I ) will always be relevant to SOMEONE. The crowd continues to change and evolve. As does my work and me. Some of us are friends forever. Other, we and come and go. And that’s ok.
Being at the conference, specifically, also made me realize that I need to be looking at more COLLABORATIONS. Not just with someone who is physically in Gurgaon / Delhi but even with those I met at the conference. The Internet makes it possible. Someone who has a different set of skills that can complement mine – we could work together online. I could photograph something and they could illustrate it. Animate it? Who knows! But I have to try.
I collaborated with Gurnoor for my last workshop, which was pretty much the first time I’ve collaborated with someone. I was worried and scared but I still did it and it went rather well! I need to collaborate with more creative people.
I bought an iPAD.
The lack of tools was getting to me. There’s so much that’s possible on the iPAD – especially with the Apple Pencil 2. So many software possibilities that are just not available on Android or Windows – especially if you want mobility. There’s only so much I can do on my Google Pixel.
Having always felt the urge to draw on my images – physically and in software – after re-evaluating the purchase a hundred times – I bit the bullet and made my first ever Apple purchase. I’m typing this on the attached keyboard and I’ve been using the pencil to draw and animate stuff in Adobe Fresco.
I haven’t touched on the new software and the new features in existing software by Adobe that were talked about and revealed at the conference. It was exciting and overwhelming. I’ll try to uncover those bit by bit when I’m back at my desk in India. I’m still parsing ALL the stuff that happened.
Typing this on my new iPAD from Jaffa in Los Angeles. Flight back to India tomorrow afternoon. Part of me cannot wait to get back to India Time. Part of me never wants to leave LA.