Mirko Fabian

25th of February 2024
Category: Opinion, Personal Development

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

Stress Unveiled: A Journey of Struggle and Dream Revival

About this article

In this article I want to address the consequences of long term exposure to stress when pursuing a certain goal, in my case pursuing my goals as photographer and filmmaker. This shall spread some light to causes that aspiring multimedia professionals have to go through when starting out. 

Background, the root of chronic stress

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

To explain what led to chronic stress I’ll start at the beginning. It was the end of 2019 and I was faced with difficulties in my IT job as technical telephone support engineer. Trying to find a solution to stay in the company and pivoting more towards a creative job. After weeks of considerations and trials, I had no choice but leaving the company I worked for almost five years. It was the beginning of 2020, when Covid hit the world and I decided to leave my career in IT behind and pursue a self education journey. I enrolled in a distance study to become a certified Multimedia Designer and took additional 70 online courses to dive further into the field. 

I always wanted to do something more creative and this gave me a new hope, to further grow and express myself. 

The challenges that led to chronic stress

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

I wasn’t allowed to study at a university, due to the different school system in Germany, so I found myself dwelling in the vast area of online self education. To me it was a great opportunity to learn new skills, new perspectives, and ultimately a new profession. Then reality struck again, when I was trying to find a job in my new profession.

Entry level job position

Requirement: 2 years of experience in an agency or similar field, Bachelor’s degree, professional equipment or experience with it.

This is what I encountered way too often, entry level positions that literally exclude everyone looking for an entry level job, to start, to get a foot in the door.

When I then got invited for an interview I was asked what type of gear I owned. I was asked if I owned professional gear (that costs thousands of dollars). This eventually led to a whole different level of desperation and debt later on.

This felt like another smack in the face. I was devastated, disappointed, and mad at those companies that make it almost impossible for people with genuine interest, passion, and a desire to thrive in this field, to have a chance.

If I don’t get hired, I hire myself - Becoming an entrepreneur/freelancer

Devastated and speechless I made the decision to focus on a solo career. I was thrilled and excited to start my own thing, preparing my own business as a freelancer, offering photography and design services. I equipped myself with the right mindset, the entrepreneurial spirit that since then drives me to pursue my goals under my own terms. 

When plans don’t work out

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Without connection and a supportive environment it’s really difficult to start your own thing. Working for free or just a little extra money to cover your costs. People then tend to use you, to get “exposure”, that’s why many creative professionals end up broke. The danger for new, aspiring photographers for example is, not knowing the threshold when it’s time to charge for their services. 

Owning pro equipment, getting paid like a hobbyist

In the end of 2022 I invested in a new, professional DSLR camera, not only to level up but to ensure this long term investment is going to pay off eventually. In 2023 I invested again in a professional cinema camera with the equipment around it, which has been the biggest investment so far. With the investments not only in equipment, but also my time, expertise, and experience people still expect me to work for free and getting only exposure for it. 

This not only destroys the market of creative professionals, but furthermore your dreams of making a living with the gear you invested in. 

The requirements of many companies and possible employers have led me to invest into equipment while compromising my standard of living. 

Being surrounded by the wrong people

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

As mentioned before, having pro gear and not getting paid for your services is not fair. But what’s even worse is when people make false promises. The wrong people cannot only distract you from your goals, but they can manipulate you, holding you back, using you for free. There’ll come the point when you run out of time and wished you had cut the ties earlier. It’s not only holding you back from your goals but toxicity and negativity can deeply influence your mental wellbeing. Even when people seem nice, promising you the world, never rely on them. 

Nowadays it’s really difficult to find people who you can trust, most importantly is that you trust yourself and in the way you’ve chosen to go. 

Lack of Success, Pressure from Outside

When pursuing a certain goal, like getting established as a photographer and you keep missing out over a time span that goes into the years, the pressure you put on yourself and the constant battle of struggle because of striking out takes a huge toll on your mental health. Not only that but the pressure from external factors like, friends and family contributes to that negative influence even further. It’s a downward spiral that’s hard to escape from when experienced for too long. 

Pressure forms diamonds

Photo by Edgar Soto on Unsplash

This is something that’s well known in society, meaning that hard work, persistence, and patience will ultimately lead you to become good at what you do and also becoming valuable. But nobody talks about the sacrifices you’ve made, the hard work and effort that almost crushed you, while still missing out on success. More pressure will only make it worse, especially when the mentally toll on you seems already crushing. 

Pressure and stress can be good until a certain point, but constantly experienced it can crush you mentally and do more harm than you can think of. 

Obsession with learning and career goals

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

During Covid I wanted to learn as much as possible, taking as many courses as I could and collecting certificates as if they were post stamps. My thinking was, “the more, the better”, which turned into an obsession with online learning and acquiring the skills. This isn’t wrong by any means, and it has proven to be incredibly valuable in the past years. Being solely focused on your goals is unhealthy and drives you mentally in a direction that’s only getting worse over time. This is one of the reasons your goals and dreams will turn into a nightmare. 

Going to Australia

Another significant aspect that added up to the already preexisting stress and tensions is that I refused a job offer in Germany for a photography position and rather going to Australia. I wanted to leave Germany for over a decade because I never really felt home and belonging there. I never really saw myself settling down and living a happy, fulfilled life in Germany. This move was bold, but yet a huge risk financially and mentally. 

Big projects

One of the biggest projects I’ve done, was the creation of my own online course. It took me between 300-400 hours, and a lot of effort to craft this course. It took half a year to get it done and so far it didn’t got the recognition as I hoped for. 

Investing a lot of resources into a single project only to realize it was all for nothing is also hitting you hard. Even standing out with marketing strategies puts you in the realm of other people who have way greater influence and a bigger budget. When you have a decent product but it lacks you in marketing, the product all the efforts are worth nothing. 

The persistence and constant pursuit of perfectionism is another factor that adds up to stressing about projects, especially when they don’t go as planned which I encountered with my short film “The Camera”. After I finished editing the film I tried to render it for weeks, I didn’t wanted to give up on the project just because my system crashed several times. All I wanted was to export the final film which stressed me out for that time as well. 

Detachment of Relationships

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Depending how eager you are to achieving your goals you might find yourself slowly drifting away from your relationships. Isolating yourself, in order to have more time working towards your goal. Ignoring people, declining invites, simply detaching yourself from your relationships is one of the worst things you can do. The reason for that lead to the next reason that ultimately lead to stress and your dreams turning into a nightmare. 

I was so desperately focused on my goals that I limited social interaction as much as I could. Something I now regret given the fact that I’m still missing out on success. Once you lose significant people in your life you realize the precious value of time and spending time with those people. 

Losing of meaning

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Over time you might recognize that things aren’t as important as they used to be. With all the external and internal pressure it’s likely that the things you once considered most important lost their value. People, goals, things lose meaning because all you focus on is achieving your goals. This is a stage where the threshold of asking for professional help has long been overstepped. Not only that but by losing the meaning in people and things you’ve already lost who you are. You’re now just a shadow of the person you’ve once been. Everything just for the pursuit of your goals. 

Mental and physical exhaustion

Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Depending how long those struggles and obstacles are experienced, you get tired after some time. Mentally exhaustion can also lead to depression and burn out. There are many warnings to keep in mind that lead to depression and burnout. Pursuing your dreams, going after a profession you enjoy and love doing should never lead you to give up on life, your friends, or family. Long term struggles when going after your dreams can have serious consequences, not only mentally but also physically. 


In my pursuit of the goals I set myself I totally forgot how to actually live. Obsession with your profession and goals can ruin your life, losing yourself in desperation, anxiety, and depression. The decisions we make in desperation are those we regret most, acting or not acting, losing who we are, all of that is not worth pursuing a career while giving up on life. Work-life-balance should always stand above reckless pursuit and acting towards any goal. 

I have become obsessed with the pursuit of my goals, invested a lot of money, built up debt in order to get the professional gear and slowly paying it off all with the hope of getting myself into a better position for client work and to get potentially hired. I took a huge risk which ultimately led to losing myself and what I once considered most precious. Leaving Germany and investing in the equipment are two factors that significantly increased the amount of stress and pressure. So much that I can’t tell anymore if the decisions I’ve made are right or wrong. 

We only have one life and who knows how much time we or our loved ones have. 

Mirko Fabian

Self-educated creative problem solver and entrepreneur. Writing about personal development, self-education, photography & filmmaking. 

#filmmaking #film #movie #short #story #storytelling #visual #camera #script #actor #director #audience