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Everyone Cracks – Story of a Breakdown

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Feb 01

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We Can’t Do It All

Often times when we try, we wind up failing at everything. I had a total snap today after realizing I had become completely stressed out. This is my story and how I plan on cutting my stress.

I hope this episode helps you to see that no one is perfect, and every now and then the stress of it all really does get to us.

Total soapbox of an episode, but if you are looking for some real talk, here it is.

Gear Used in This Episode
  • Nathan Dunn

    A couple things if you don’t mind…

    First, humor… Showers are where I always have my epiphanies. I can’t count how many Zelda puzzles I was able to solve as a kid by taking a break and showering!

    Second, serious… Might I recommend a book that my department at work read recently. It’s a book called
    The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back and perhaps it could give you perspective into some of the different pieces of your personality and of others personalities that could help. For example it helped me notice that I often am not concerned about others as I much should be.

    I would agree that hanging up a few of your hats is a wise decision, and again I can draw from my work experience in a similar situation. Our department has doubled in sized over the last year. As part of that what has happened is that my job has drastically changed even though my title basically hasn’t. What happens as you grow as a department is that you become responsible for more and because of that you can’t have your hands in as many of the things you used to do. This can be especially tricky when you have to give up something you actually enjoy doing, and I hope that you don’t have to give up any hats that you enjoy anytime soon. However not to be a downer, but because I think you produce a great product and I have full faith that your business will continue to grown greatly, it may be very likely that down the road you may have to hang up more hats. Hopefully this experience will allow you to see it coming sooner and let you better prepare to pass on one of your fancy hats. :)

    Regardless of if this helped, I greatly appreciate all that I’ve been able to learn from you, and I thank you for taking the time out to respond to me when I’ve asked you things on Twitter. Have a great evening. :)

  • Nick Bedford

    This was a good video, even if some people might think otherwise. We all human!

    I’m a photographer, not professionally but I take it seriously, and I’m in love with creating photographs and images people can enjoy, but right now, I’m also a fully committed drummer in a band that has for all intents and purposes raised the bar for ourselves.

    This means frequent rehearsals during the week, committing resources and time to everything else that comes with it; writing, gear for live performance etc. I also work full-time except weekends. I’ve found that my photography not so much has suffered (it surely hasn’t regressed) but has slowed. I find myself wanting and needing to create more per photo, and you, Aaron, and Phlearn as a resource (not to mention the other photographers I draw inspiration from) are also pushing me to want go outside my own square.

    So for myself, I’ve had to essentially get my photography fix when I can and try to fill gaps with knowledge for my next shoot/project whilst juggling the rest of my commitments. And ultimately, my time and money for socialising is fairly slim!

    I love it, but like you, some part of it all has to give way for the rest and you have to have your priorities worked out.Stepping down from controlling aspects of your company is only going to relieve those certain stresses that have “broken the horse” so to speak. Only yesterday, Jeremy Cowart posted his article about how he is just so bogged down with e-mails that he can’t get to the creating part of his profession and as a result has to make the decision to cut back.

    And like you realise, you can never place enough importance on your relationships with the people around you. They keep you in the real world.

  • Karissa Hosek

    you’re so down to earth aaron, thanks for sharing the pony story with the twins it was funny. 
    You have so much on your shoulders and you’re right ‘we can’t do it all’ 
    Taking off a hat sounds like a good task to free your mind from one less thing.
    I hope the best for you in the month ahead I’m sure good things will happen

     the kiss at the end was a nice touch lol
    Have a good week, things will brighten up :)

  • Reem

    you are an amazing person Aaron! I guess it’s not easy for anyone to share this kind of information!
    I have to say I can relate to this in many different ways! I once was the person trying too hard to “wear a lot of hats” being a daughter, sister, wife, small business owner, part time teacher, photographer, artist and the list keep going! I lost almost all of my friends and soon everything else started falling apart as well!
    I took action and started cutting out everything that was not “doing me good” and not really “worth it” so I gave up the marriage, the small business and the teaching, and started getting my life together! ever since I started putting my shit together I become way less clumsy! not dropping things as much “I guess I drop things a lot when I’m stressed too!
    I hope you feel a lot better now that you’ve opened up! I know you will!

    I love the joke! and the kiss was a nice touch lol so unexpected :P

  • Damian Sanchez

    Good ep Aaron, it’s true that we can get burned out juggling so much stuff; hope you feel better soon!

    Love the life lessons here and there on Phlearn. My suggestion is change the title screen – Photography, Photoshop, *Philosophy*: Phlearn. ;-)

  • CoolSlim

    Ive seen your flickr steam last week but hadnt seen the episodes here… watched a few and the one about the stolen pics episode… 
    you are doing an amazing job mate.. and you are an inspiration for so many people..
    I just wanted to give a suggestion, honestly me and most people from Asia have a hard time buying stuff online. Mostly because credit cards arent that common here… and like  you said in the other video we are in a world where people are used to getting things for free but at the same time this is a business for you.

    It would be awesome if you could add some advertisements to these free episodes (something like adsense) which people can click on if they want to

  • James Warwood

    The answer is simple my friend. And your already on the road to it. Spread the load. Do what you do best and let others take care of what you don’t do best.

  •ðisá/1592784472 Andri Gerðisá
  • Jenna Petrone


    I really admire your openness and honesty with us, I think more people should be that way.  I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a bad day, but you’re right, it happens to the best of us.  I think you need some distressing time to yourself which can include anything from singing and dancing to your favorite song while no one is watching, reading your favorite book, or simply going for a walk.

    I’ve reached a point similar to yours last semester.  I lost three amazing people in my life in a matter of three months and of course, I felt discouraged for a while.  I also felt extremely stressed and if I wasn’t upset, I was stressing about the amount of work I was behind on and I had no personal time.  Bad things just kept happening but I’ve decided that even though so much crap was being thrown at me all in one semester, it can’t fully bring me down.  If it did, then I picked myself back up as soon as possible.  The result of last semester was me pushing myself to do the best work in photography that I have done my entire college career, I finally got the courage to contact you, and I now have the motivation and determination that I’ve always needed.

    You can always find away to turn your stress and frustration around.  Maybe make a weekly schedule to make sure you have time for everything you need to do, your family, and yourself.  But for now, I see your optimistic about the situation and that is honestly the best way to approach it.

    Feel better Aaron! 

  • Judy

    I’m sorry about the crap storm, Aaron.   It seems like you’ve had a pretty busy week/weekend…maybe you’re a little worn down.  Hope today is much better! xx

  • Chrstph Ekkobelli Meyer

    Today is my shit-day. Just this day where everything comes together.
    I didn’t sleep last night, cos I couldn’t disconnect from thinking and worrying.
    When I finally fell asleep at 9 in the morning, I got woken up two hours later by a bad call: I obviously fucked up a previous job I did. I am supposed to be very good at this and I did some real bad mistakes and now a job opportunity for a magnitude of people is on the stakes, cos it was a pitch.
    That’s big pressure. Also internet-access doesn’t work, so I have to go to a café with wiress while today I need the internet to repair what I fucked up, so I’ll be bound to move between home and café and spend millions on cappuccini.
    I am very tired because of last night and stress in general, even to the point where I don’t really know how to cope with it anymore, cos I can’t free more time. My girflfirend is angry cos we can’t spend much time together. I started to loose the sense of life, so to say.

    That much for the complaining bit ;-)

    I force myself today to not get pushed around by emails and phone calls and shit. I go home, assess my situation and before I act I will think half an hour about everything in calmness. 

    I also use showers to relax and I cook delicious food to remind myself of what’s really important: the art of living healthy and thoughtful, taking time for the little things that make you happy.

    And now, I gotta get the hell out of this hipster-café and get started feeling fresh again… ;-)

    Heads up Aaron and everyone stressed out, it’s just periods of time and there will be great days after this.

    In the end, most stress is not life-threatening, so no need to worry so much that it will shorten your life by producing stress hormons alone. 

    A nice kicker from the great Charles Bukowski for that matter:

    “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

  • Aaron Nace

    Thanks so much Karissa :)
    Good things are on the way, I am getting better about taking off hats.

  • adolf

    from the movie “the replacements”

    “You’re playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move… you can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand. ”

    yeah, shit happens.

  • willard chviers

    these personal videos really do make an impact. thank you for being so open and honest with us. Really. For me, this is not about having evidence that someone such as yourself breaks down from time to time (altho there is something reassuring about that ;-) . Its about the lesser seen fact that, even after a horrible, shit filled day, it is possible to dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and move forward and possibly be better for it. It seems like one of those things that should be so obvious but the fact that its rarely seen, i think, makes us feel like it is something that people we look up to never go through. So thanks again for sharing with us. it really means a lot!

  • janiecakes

    I can relate Aaron. I suck at managing too and I wouldn’t take a management position if they paid 10 times my salary.  I’m serious about that!  (Of course, no one would ever offer me a management position because I suck at it.)

    Maybe you need to watch a Bobby McFerrin video…skip the ad (if you want to).

  • eduardo

    I loved the Pony story :) It made my day! Thanks!

  • Shane

    Your not the only one going through this I think everyone does because i definitely do. It’ll get better, hopefully you can get your friend back. best of luck and keep your head up…if needed take a vacation man we can handle a few days without phlearn itll probably be the best thing.

  • Sebastian Ortiz

    I Read that Book, also the 4 hour body.. both great books… 

    BrO, seriously?, ease up on yourself, Don’t sweat the small stuff. That’s why you have everybody around you, let them do what you have them for…to sweat the small stuff for you… the way I see it, friends are friends, but business is business… It’s great to have friends, but it’s the Business that keeps you afloat…. Jus’ my two pennies worth… 

  • MBA

    Life is like a freeway. When you pick up speed people following you have to keep up with you. Those who do not slow you down, or make you crash. They also need to know where you are going and be happy about it. Heavy loads at high speed make you crash when sudden changes occur. Get a co-pilot to monitor your followers and your road map. Make sure your co-pilot does not know how to drive. This way you concentrate in driving only.

  • IPBrian

    I am beginning to think balance is a myth.  I have three jobs currently…as in careers.  Most of the time I flip between mostly and completely overwhelmed.  I think most of us need to figure out what we are good at and do that.  The stuff we aren’t good at, it is silly to keep doing.  Whey not find someone that is good at them and focus your energy where you can do the most good and find the most joy.  This life thing is supposed to be fun (I think).  Keep that head up brother!

  • Jiro Preston

    Hey Aaron, thanks for pointing this out.  I also have not enough heads for all the hat’s that I need to wear as a designer/photographer/business Owner & Partner for 2 different film companies, Senior Martial Arts instructor as well as full time Visual Effect Student.  I think we all try to imagine that we can do it all, but the truth is, we all need help badly.  I watch your show through vimeo on my Smart TV.  Your message struck a note as I am always slammed into this type of situation with management of others or even more myself.  I have been struggling with developing a real team and those who want to develop high caliber work who doesn’t do this just as a hobby.  I decided to return back to school now in my late, late 40′s.  I appreciate you pointing this issue out, lets me know there are others that struggle with similar issues.  I would like to hear more about your new studio as I am also looking to jump into my own place instead of consistently renting, there is nothing like your own place.  Keep Phlearning and Teacphing, We are always out here listening.  Thanks again.

    Usyakuza aka Jiro

  • Lawrence Smith

    Dude I can totally relate to what your going through right now.We all go through a series of ups and downs.I always say, the good Lord never puts more on us than we can bear,and  whatever doesn’t kill you only serves to make you stronger!So keep your head up bro!

  • vosloo

    Aaron, keep on rocking it! Thank you for being so honest and down to earth. We all hit a wall sometimes, and the best thing you can do is be real. I love how self aware you are and we can all learn from you in that respect. You can only do as much as you can, and the rest will figure itself out. Pick the hats you love and are passionate about it, and pull in some other folks who can help you wear the other ones. Good luck with your big shoot tomorrow! Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up

  • Carl Revell

    The balance you strike between Photoshop, photography and life in general is spot on. I know you didn’t think “ooh, time for a life lesson” but it’s nice to see you’re human. I hope you manage to work everything out.

  • Caroline Southpaw Glabik

    thank you Aaron for beeng such a wonderful person! I love your honest, personal and down to earth way, it´s really refreshing and human. 

    Much love from sweden :o )

  • Anonymous

    You are refreshingly honest.  Thank you for sharing so purely with us, with self reflection one can grow.  No we all goes through these moments, you are not alone.  There is a fine line between being focused to being focused solely on yourself.  your heart is what makes a difference & the fact you even take the time to wonder shows that you are not in the latter group.  You are doing so much and stretching yourself thin.  Honor yourself & doing what you are doing in the video, which is validating the relationships (personal & work) that matter is the right path.  If the Phlearn community can do anything to help in return let us know

  • Chris Stewart

    Thanks for that Aaron. That helps.

  • Александр Киселев

    Did you ever try LCD?) It helps) I’m not ready for this, mb you try?

  • Sarah Ann Loreth

    I had the same problem in December. Complete nervous breakdown. I took some time and cancelled all of January. I’m just starting to get back into the swing of things. It’s hard. But sometimes it’s best to learn to take time for you <3

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly what happens when you make goals! They challenge you to either step up or step back. You are always someone who will step up.

  • Julie Xiong

    I understand what you went through. Maybe not on the professional level, but I also had too many hats on. Having to manage four jobs, two photography exhibits, and a music video production for finals last semester turned me into a complete monster. (I am a senior in college.) I hurt the professional relationship between one of my most beloved professors and me because I took out most of my anger and stress in his course. And I, too, turned into the very person I hated! Right now, I am trying to patch things up with my professor because the person who sat in his class for the last month in that course was not the real me.

    You are an inspiration, Aaron. Thank you for allowing us to know that even our favorite idols have terrible days. I love your kiss at the end! It made me laugh. :)

  • Racheal Carpenter

    very cool to share that with the Phamily…everybody has those days…just remember you have lots of people who love what you do and it’s very refreshing to see someone like you being so honest. Hope your well on your way to better days~

  • Andrea Peipe

    Oh yeah. Stress and coping with it is so hard sometimes… I am still fighting for my business to work and have been having a lot of stress in my personal life so I understand what you are talking about. I hate being this stressed out person that breaks too easily and realized some time ago that things have to change or I will break apart. Still working on that. And I also know what you mean about seeing your friends as accessory and turning into someone you start to hate. Working on that too. You are definitely not the only one Aaron! Maybe you should go on a vacation and just let Phlearn be without you for two weeks or so? I am sure people would understand that, they all love you! 

    I really liked this episode Aaron, thank you for your honesty and for showing me that I am not the only one feeling like this. 

  • Kalolaina31

    Aaron…thanks for this episode.  You always know how to keep it real.  I know it is a total soapbox episode but this is real life and those that don’t show it are really pretty fake.  You made a lot of sense and many people feel just like you do right now.  Keep on Phlearning and you made the right choice.

    By the way…I always love your little after the shows done video….you always crack me up.

  • Allison

    Not horrible to watch at all Aaron – thank you for not only providing really practical tutorials with energy and humor, but for also being human and sharing that side with us. I imagine most of your audience, myself included, are pursuing something about which we are very passionate, and juggling that with everything else in life really can become overwhelming at times.  It helps immensely to hear that you’re only human, and you are working through these challenges as best you can, learning as you go, which is what we should all aspire to.

  • Amara4photos

    It’s posted 5 months ago -just wondering how you are doing now. Did you manage to get changes in the ‘hats’? 

    I am just today new at PHLearn, this is only the second item I am watching…… It’s impressive, no keeping up the appearances!!! Maybe weird to say, but it is refreshing to watch. Normally people just go silent and only share the sunny side… For me, I just love hats, and it’s difficult to choose. I did cut down a lot of side activities I use to have (tutoring, second hand dresses webstore, writing) to be focusing on photography only. And o yep, of course my non-virtual social life…However, I am still overwhelmed = So many things I have to learn and do. How to prioritize – I am jumping from studying photoshop, to rebuilding my website. I decide to focus on food photography, but get a request for a family shoot. Well, how can I say no, as it will be fun….I need to improve myself from ’playing photographer’ to really know what am doing – technically, creativily and business wise. Some challenge. Great to have found the help of PHLearn now!  And yep, by taking on the family photoshoot yesterday, I did find the ‘Pony’ – she sang a life lesson to me….Gonna take it step by step, Aaron, Thanks for the change in perspective & hope you are well!!!

  • Anna Sforza

    I want to thank you for this video. It was not boring or dull in the least bit. If anything, it was a big reassurance. Recently I have had a complete meltdown. I had a family member tell me to just “get it together”. That was really tough to hear coming from someone as close to me.
    I hope you, me and the rest of us find our balance as we continue to live our lives.
    Thank you again.

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