I recently picked up a copy of Grace Bonney’s IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN which is a compilation of Q&A with 100 women in various artistic and creative fields. Some of these women like Genevieve Gorder, and Joy Cho are famous and I already know, but most are unfamiliar faces from around the world. It’s been an eye opening experience to read about their journey into the creative field.
As a kid and a grownup, I have spent most of my free time pursuing hobbies that involve painting and crafting of some kind. But in spite of all those creative outlets, in 2015, I was feeling a serious burnout from my full-time job which, I have no problem admitting, was interesting, impactful, and cushy. That’s the worst thing to happen really, because it is easier to quit something when you have a shitty boss and boring work, but not when everything is just as it should be.
The second worst thing to happen is to actually quit without any concrete next steps. This is where I found myself when we left Chicago and moved to Raleigh in August of the same year. I knew I wanted to do something creative, and to write more, and to immerse myself in a community which valued making things with their hands and minds. But the how was clearly a problem! I also realized that when one has a full-time job, it seems like there is never enough time to do all the “fun projects” and yet, after quitting the same time consuming job there is never anything fun to do!
Having a newborn and a new house was a temporary distraction because it filled the hours of the day. Beside a few freelance writing gigs, I still wasn’t able to get anything permanent going with my “creative break”. In this time of frustration and the constant feeling of belonging nowhere, I often found myself getting offended anytime someone referred to me as a “housewife”. I didn’t stop working to do housework I thought to myself. And even though I was raised by a housewife, and never previously thought of that group of women as one dimensional or boring, I couldn’t help but feel that way now.
In talking to other friends who have taken time off from full-time work, I found that this feeling of losing purpose is more common than I thought. A paycheck from the office is a surprising seal of approval of productivity and self-worth. When I lost that, I tried to find ways to still be a “productive” partner in our family. This is a fancy way of saying that I dedicated crazy amounts of time on domestic chores when instead I should have concentrated on my career aspirations which is why I took this break in the first place.
One thing that helped me get out of my rut was to get out of the house. It forced me to stop doing housework for one, but it also forced me to think of interesting places to explore, it forced me to be bored which then finally made way for creativity. I started coming home with more and more interesting projects. The creative juices were flowing and I was feeling good once more.
Next steps for me included, updating this website from a blog to a more professional creative space and getting business cards. Both of these have made it tremendously easy to explain to people what my goal is and it has helped me find new clients to work with. Also, I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a business card that has your name along with a title that truly represents you!!
Thusly, I ended 2016 feeling good and hopeful that my creativity will indeed carry me to the next chapter in my career. The best thing I did was, I stopped waiting around for things to happen (just like Dr. Seuss says in Oh The Places You’ll go). I stopped letting my good ideas get caught up in my thoughts, and instead started putting them in action even if it meant I would watch them die. To try and fail is not as bad as I thought it would be; instead it is highly satisfying experience because I learn so much from it!
My sister still calls and occasionally ask me “so what do you do all day” in a tone I don’t very much appreciate! Being an older sibling she has the right to be annoying I suppose, but the fact that even that doesn’t bother me anymore is so freaking surprising. My answer these days is “I nap when not twiddling my thumbs”.
Back to IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN, after reading about other women’s journeys, I am finally figuring out that the Creative Space is not a destination, but a very individualistic state of being. It starts with giving oneself the freedom to fail, to be bored, to be poor. It is sustained by constantly seeking other creative beings and spaces. It has no age restrictions. It forces me to take into account all the things I am terrible at without being judgmental!
After all that, I feel like I should end this post with an OMMM and a NAMASTE!
Jokes aside, I would love to know how many of you juggle your creativity with the constraints of real life. I am sure not all have to quit a job to make room for things they love (I certainly hope my husband never gets that idea…at least not until I have my million dollar plan). Talk to me folks! I want to listen and learn from your story too!