When they asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up back in kindergarten, what was your answer? Do you remember? Did you see your adult self as the future President, an astronaut, an archeologist, a firefighter, a world traveler, a storyteller, a photographer, a dancer, a singer, a painter, an actor? What did you want to do with your life back before society told you to “grow up”, and “get a real job”. How did you see your adult self before you were told to shut up, stop dreaming, put on a “professional” outfit and fit in? Do you even remember what it feels like to believe in your own limitless potential? No child wants to grow up to be a paper pushing office drone stuck in the 7th circle of middle management hell. So why, as adults, do we settle for a life we never wanted?
It’s really all too easy to get lulled into the track system society sets up for us. You know the one. Its the old finish high school, go to college, get married, get the house, get the car, have 2.2 kids, work a job you hate because it “pays well” for 40 some years, then spend your last 10 or so years with your grandkids. Submit, rinse, repeat. It’s easy.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could break away from the track system of middle class American life and forge your own path? What if you didn’t have to give up on your dreams?
You don’t have to give up. You never had to give up. The biggest lie you were ever told is that you have to follow the same path that everyone else does. You have creative impulses for a reason, you have talent for a reason. Use them. To deny those creative impulses is the biggest sin you could ever commit against yourself.
You can make a living doing what you love. You can make a living as a dancer, singer, writer, photographer and even as a visual artist. You can follow your creativity all the way down the rabbit hole and still be a functional human being. The creative path may be the path less travled, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t walk it. You aren’t too old, too young, too late, too inexperienced, or too anything. Others have done it and they aren’t part of some exclusive club that you aren’t cool enough to get into. Trust me, if I can support myself off of my art, anyone can.
The only thing holding you back from following your creative bliss is all that stupid fear you picked up between kindergarten and now. Let the fear go. Uninstall your social programming, you don’t need it. Take as much time as you need to emotionally Draino all the fear out. You have to be fearless to follow the creative path.
The creative path can be scary. I won’t lie to you and tell you its the easy road. We’ve all heard the “starving artist” cliche. And while that cliche is mostly bullshit, it does exist for a reason. There are no garuntees when you strike out on your own. Even scarier, you have no one to blame but yourself. Financial security does not exist, not unless you become a rockstar in your field.
You also have to work twice as hard as everyone else in a “normal” job. You aren’t only constantly honing your craft, your hustling every day to get your name and your work out there. Its hard work, all the time. You’ll have to be dedicated. You have to be willing to give it everything you’ve got, and I mean everything.
You’ll be constantly combatting the social stigma that comes with being a creative for a living. Be prepared for all the, “No, but what’s your day job?” and “But what do you do for money?” questions. Be prepared for people to not take you seriously. Know they will call you naieve, an idiot, a joke. They’ll tell you you have no chance, you’ll never make it, that you can’t do it. Know they are lying.
Know that some people just won’t understand. These might even be some of the people closest to you like your parents, spouse, or best friend. You can explain why you continue to work on your art til you’re blue in the face, and they’ll still try to convince you to give up your craft for the sake of “security” of one kind or another. They’ll say that they just “want what’s best for you”. Some may genuinely care about you and your wellbeing. They’re still wrong. Always remember that.
Knowing all this, why would you even bother trekking down the creative path? Simple. The rewards for following the creative path are infinitely worth all that hard work. You’ll find true fulfillment and joy, the kind money can never buy. You’ll be living as your true Self, capital S Self. You’ll be living the life you want, not the life your parents, your partner, your culture, your society said you should have. You’ll be following your true calling. You’ll be giving life to the beauty inside you, listening to every single whim and whisper of your heart. You will be bringing something into the world that didn’t exist before. You’ll be leaving a mark on the world.
More so than that, your creations, no matter what they are, will have the power to change the world. Let that sink in. Your creations will have the power to change the world, straight up-no bullshit. Creating of any sort powerful stuff. That is a power you will have. This power, and the fear of what it can do, is the main reason you were told that you can’t be any sort of creative for a living.
People from time to time still ask me, “So, Kitty, if this whole art thing doesn’t work out, do you have a back up plan?” My answer is always the same, I can’t be anything other than an artist. Its who I am. It was never even a question.
So who are you? Are you who you want to be? Think back to what you wanted to be when you were in kindergarten. Think back to all those little whispers to pick up a pen, a camera, ballet slippers, or a paintbrush. Do me a favor and for just one day, indulge them. Pick up the tools of your craft again and try them on. See if they still make you happy, see if they still make you light up. Do you still get those little champagne bubbles of joy when you create? Dust off those dreams you were told to put on the shelf way back when and give them another try. Go for it. Keep going and don’t fucking stop.