Get out of your comfort zone or stay in the rut
I always thought that I would live and die a dentist. My mind works like a machine that is automated and systematic.
It is very much like what a dentist does in everyday work — —for example, when doing the filling, give anesthetic when required, wait for numbness, access and widen cavity carefully, remove caries, line with medication, build up the filling in layers if necessary, cure it, adjust and polish it.
For thirty-five years, I have been at dentistry and love it. Along the way, I also learned implants and more steps and systematic ways to carry out. So much so that, if I learn anything outside dentistry, I would list everything in order not to miss anything important. It works for me.
Dentistry is an art and a science. After all, aesthetics is a big thing in dentistry and we are moving towards better and beautiful in a big way. I wanted to develop my sense of aesthetics and art further.
Recently, due to the Covid-19 crisis, I joined some coloring competition that was organized by the National newspaper agency, The Straits Times that would give away $5K to the five top winners. Other private companies jumped on the bandwagon such as BMW and a famous art gallery.
It was a challenge for me. My systematic mind could only think of coloring each figure in a specific color. I knew that I lacked creativity. I tried anyway since I had printed all the copies and wanted to use my new coloring pencils kit which I had bought on a whim a year ago.
I seemed happy with my effort and even secretly thought I might win. Until the announcement of results. I was shocked at how creative some people could be. It certainly took a lot of effort and thinking for them to come up with such marvelous art!. I also believe that they were blessed with an innate talent.
They have inspired me to be hardworking and persistent. To open my mind to stimulation around me so that I could uncover my creativity. I like to believe that we have potential in us that need to be excavated. Even if the potential is low, it can be developed. Through more exposure to others who are good at what they do. To have the tenacity to give your best and not give up.
It is torturous for me but I started to join workshops that would require creativity. Sure, where there were steps to follow, it was a no brainer for me. But when it came to selecting or creating images, putting a cover photo, creating a logo, I was lost.
Last year, I started to learn about website creation and then moved on to an e-commerce site. It was very difficult for me as there were many things new to me. I was outside of my comfort zone. I looked around me and my young classmates were all operating in a flow state. Everything came easy to them.
I struggled with the technical process of going digital with the laptop. I was not holding handpieces in my clinic. I tried to link webpages that were shoddily created and the result was a disaster. My classmates already had much basic knowledge with them and the workshop was about building more skills.
I had started on a blank slate and felt totally lost. But I refused to give up. Steps, steps I told myself. I listed all the steps as the instructor belted them out and hit the keys at the same time. Sometimes it was disastrous but a good soul next to me helped me to correct it. I was becoming a nuisance to him but heck, I was going to persist with this challenge.
At the end of the two-day full workshop, I produced an incoherent website. Fortunately, my notes were with me as a guide. Over the weeks, I continued to drop in at their office to meet up with their co-ordinator to work out the process while new classes were conducted by the instructor. I refused to fall out by the wayside.
It took me almost a year to revamp my website and e-commerce site again and again. I learned new things. I forced myself to learn to take good photos and produce images and picked up tips for good photography and relevant images.
I would take templates but had to modify them in order to use them commercially without penalty. I could source free pictures from some websites but I found out that having my own pictures would give my posting more ranking on google.
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better—–Ralph Waldo Emerson
It almost requires a whole new mindset as I need to view my images from an artist’s point of view. It must evoke an emotion before people would want to read on about your post or your product. I came across a software that could test your creativity.
Now, I have two websites and one e-commerce website which I would continue to revitalize as time goes by to provide fresh content and feeling. I also had my first client, an accountant who was happy with my own works and signed up as a client. I created a simple website as requested by her and did it for a small fee.
I am very happy to take up challenges. Staying in my comfort zone means not feeling pain nor inconvenienced nor agitation from the unknown but my philosophy of life is always to stretch myself further.
Even if it takes time, I feel that one can only get better. If you work at something assiduously in a systematic manner and stretch your imagination by doing more work on the side, how can you not finally excel at what you want to achieve?
A mind that is stretched by a new experience will never go back to its old dimensions–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr