Pursuing creativity is an uphill battle against the mind. That battle is whether you should be persevering with the thing that you want to do, against the thing that you think you should be doing. It causes the person in question great anxiety as they wonder whether all their efforts to embark on a less conventional lifestyle, will be wasted.
It’s the thing that causes me the most angst as I go to bed at night and one of the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning. Will it all be worth it? Am I doing this the best way I can be? Am I being utterly stupid and unrealistic? These are the things that plague me when I’m doing things to actively support my creative desires. Whether that may be cancelling social activities with friends or putting money aside to aid the creative endeavour in question.
In leading a less than traditional employment route, my friends will only be gaining more experience, going further up the career ladder and becoming more financially able and stable and in all honesty, it scares me. It scares me that I will be ‘left behind’ or have nothing tangible to show for all the hard work I have put in over the last 3 years. It scares me that after X amount of years later, I will have to accept defeat and have to re-enter the 9-5 job wheel, however I will be older and without even half the ‘required experience’ than those even younger than myself. It scares me that I am always toying between sticking to my guns (my creative pursuit) or doing what I believe is the more rationale thing to do (getting a 9-5 job like the vast majority of my friends).
A lot of this is also down to self-belief. Can I do it? Is it possible? But just how viable is viable – really? Living in a perpetual state of self-doubt as you can imagine, doesn’t do wonders for your mental state. If you’re lucky enough to have a long-suffering parent or other half, to listen to you on a regular basis as you torment yourself over just which choice to make, you will be only too familiar with the conversation I am referring to. It’s really difficult. Do the thing that makes me happy or do the thing that makes you money and ultimately offers financial security?
Some people will look at both happiness and money in direct correlation with one another. Some people equate a fat salary with happiness, regardless of the actual job itself. Obviously in an ideal world, the thing that makes you money will make you happy. However, as my fellow creatives will argue, creative endeavours are a hard gig to crack. It takes a while for that cash flow to actually flow. I really want to believe that its all worth it. That those people who stand by the notion that if you beast yourself hard enough and hustle long enough, you really will get to where you want to be.
It takes a simple email from someone who I don’t know, telling me that they love what I do, that makes me realise I should persevere. That it is all worth it because my contributions to society are making a difference to someone else, other than myself. When they share their own stories of how they came to the place at which they are now, I realise I have created a space in which they feel comfortable enough to share them with me. When people ask me how they can get involved or that they will spread the word, I know that this is a creative venture to stick with. That this is an idea that is beneficial to not just a couple of people, but a whole community of people. It is as scary as it is exhilarating choosing to do something that no one else is doing, but I can tell you this much from the three years I’ve had to navigate this often bumpy path alone. There will be monumental lows, as you wrestle with that sick feeling of not really knowing what you’re doing. There is no one to ask or tell you whether you’re doing ‘it’ right and you might find there are more days that you’re coasting than you are actually cruising.
However, the fact that you’re still hanging in there regardless, a few months down the line shows both your willingness and stubbornness to succeed and to make ‘it’ work.
This rollercoaster of life, means that whilst there are these dips and loops that can throw us totally off kilter, there are also these sky-high highs. And that is the feeling that reminds you that it’s worth it. The adrenaline and excitement of doing the creative pursuit that you love, whilst knowing that you’re good at it, is the reason we stay on the ride. We’re better at this, than we ever will be confined to a role working in an office cubicle. The process of ‘making it work’ may not be glamorous, but it most certainly is rewarding, it just depends how tight you think you can hold on.