All our lives, we take steps that allow us to improve ourselves. From taking those first steps as a baby to working your way toward being a creative professional, each step is crucial to your overall journey. As one of many new graduates in between the academic and working worlds, you may not always know where you fit in. Don’t worry. There are plenty of creative peers that have your back!

Even when the going gets tough, keep your chin up! Here are five things to remember as a young creative.

1. Things aren’t always easy, but they’re worth it.

No career is entirely easy. Each one has its ups and downs, and the creative industries are no exception. It can be difficult to find work. The projects may not match your skills or experience, and the ones that do can be competitive.

You are also responsible for all the things that fall into place at a traditional job such as managing your time, sending out invoices and filing those oh-so-wonderful 1099s. While creative industries aren’t the easiest profession out there, they can be the most rewarding. What we’re trying to say is, your blood, sweat and tears will be worth it.

2. Don’t worry about defining yourself.

Many young creatives feel a need to “define” themselves. Are you a designer? An illustrator? A fine artist? A starving artist? Don’t worry about spawning the perfect title. As long as your solution to the project is well-thought-out and effective, there’s no reason to fret over monikers. You just might find that over time, you can define yourself precisely.

3. Take the time to create relationships, not just art.

Believe it or not, your success as a young creative extends far beyond the work you deliver. There are a lot of talented creative professionals out there, and the market can be fiercely competitive. While great work will help you land clients, you must also get along with the people you interact with. Be true to yourself and realize the potential in establishing good client relationships. Word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials go a long way in securing more work.

4. Collaborate with your creative friends. They have great advice!

Think about all of the people you have met over the years. Friends from art school. Peers from your design internship. People you connected with at a tradeshow or other event. These are the people that you can learn from, and their unique perspectives will help at different points in your career. Thankfully, it’s easy to connect with your peers on LinkedIn and Facebook without looking like a stalker.

5. You won’t always have it together, and that’s OK.

If, at times, you feel that you have no clue as to what’s going on, don’t panic. This happens, and it’s completely normal. Don’t get in your mind. Relax and remember that all of this learning is to better yourself as a young creative. Take mistakes as learning opportunities. Dabble in various styles of design to see what you like. Most importantly, don’t limit the possibilities simply because you are afraid to fail. You just never know what can come when you let your mind go free.

Every designer has a unique journey to share! What will yours be?