“The Pit of Discomfiture,”writes Julie Zhuo , “is a place with which I am well acquainted, having spent a good number of years here on the way to every conceivable destination, all the while pretending I were someplace more pleasant.”

Every creative falls into a state of doubt (about themselves, their talents, or their passions) during their careers, and Zhuo is no different. She explains in a recent post on Medium:

When you are currently stuck in the Pit, it sucks. And it is extraordinarily difficult to admit, even to yourself. You either delude yourself into thinkingnothing is wrong with you (it’s the environment conspiring against you—the shitty weather, your boss, that meeting, the whole stinkin’ culture of this place), or everything is wrong with you (the way you look and talk and think and act—the very atoms that make up your being, in fact—all of it is wrong.)

There are two ways out: backwards or forwards — but only one leads to growth.

The first is to forego the whole adventure and take the elevator back to the start. Yes, it’s as easy as it sounds…

The second way out of the Pit is to wander through the dankness, tripping and stumbling in the dark until your feet strike something solid—a step, a slight elevation to push off of until you are just a few inches higher than you were. And then you do it again—trip and stumble and wander until you find the next step. And the next. And the next… This path is hard… Your ego will take a bruising on those jagged walls. You may get lost for weeks or months or even years. And everything you produce while on this path [seem like] garbage…

But at the end, know that there is nothing like it. To have gone through the Pit, to have climbed it rock by painstaking rock and emerged capable of creating the kind of work that pleases you, the kind that filled you with inspiration in the first place—nobody ever regrets the journey,

As Goethe once said, “Everything is hard before it is easy.”

Read the rest of the article here, or see Zhou speak at the 2014 99U Conference on May 1-2

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