it's time I gave my creativity a paid vacation

I love how the universe works. I truly do. Not only do I find myself expressing this gratitude after positive opportunities for my style business but also later down the road when another moment didn't go "as planned." The disappointments careen in other directions that then benefit, support, and acknowledge my own creativity.

I have worked hard to be someone comfortable taking risks (having the self-awareness to know that the combination of excitement and feeling like I'm going to throw up is an indicator of a risk I should take), engaging in difficult conversations, and trying new things. With these traits and the commitment to my own creativity, I both go after my own potential projects and open myself up to the ones that are placed in my lap (come across an email/come up in conversation). 

I know with conviction that a couple things contribute to this formula of opportunity, and after I have been willing to put myself and my creative work out there. 

  • Authenticity
    • When I am true to this core value, people both know where I stand and for what I stand for. They trust I will bring my whole self to a project and if I cannot, they know that I will voice that. There is never a guessing game, a facade, or for lack of a better word... no bullshit.
  • Boldness
    • If my name is attached to a project then we are playing BIG, making a splash, and doing a complete "about face" from anything "normal," predictable, or safe. Boldness has afforded me just about everything in my life: my style philosophy, my relationships (definitely landed my husband), my vigor, my path to living a life of meaning. Boldness drives me to stand for different.
  • Self Encouragement
    • Other people's complements are great (fantastic really) but no one is going to pump me up in my hardest moments or when I need a stern pep-talk with myself. And it's not their job to. There are moments that I need a random dance party, a killer playlist, to not wear a bra (or pants) and to make room for self-care. More often than not, I have to take a deep breath and whisper to myself "like a boss" to write a tough email, give honest feedback that I know may not land, or just fucking tackle a to-do list for which NO ONE else is pushing me to do.
  • Intuition
    • Tapping into what "feels right" and what just doesn't sit well with me means there are opportunities I have chosen not to take, ideas not to jump on, and conversations where I have had to be the one to say "no thank you." When I have not exercised or ignored my intuition is when I have later kicked myself, run myself ragged, and neglected to stand up for my value and worth therefore I did not receive either from the situation. It's a hard but valuable lesson.
    • Intuition gives another great lesson in not having to explain yourself for why you do or do not want to do something (why's are exhaustive and only create a comparison game where one person's importance is slated against another's). Intuition doesn't need explanation, she needs your commitment. 
  • Humor
    • I can't live without laughter and I can't live a creative life without finding the humor in its peaks and valleys. Humor shifts my sanity and keeps me forward-moving. 

Alright now how do I book this vaycay for my creativity? 

I recently read "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert and gleaned what my unique self needed from her words, her spirit, and her perspective on creative living. Plus she taught me to talk to my creativity like a sassy girlfriend (perfect personification and just the companion I need for my business!). She also uses her curse words effectively and expressively so I felt a kindred connection to her. 

Once I read these words (see below), the biggest shift happened for me in that the weight of forcing my creativity into shouldering my expenses, was lifted.

I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life...

I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or often bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.
— Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth shares how even into her first 3 novels, she always kept a day job. She wrote in the wee hours, during breaks, and made time for writing outside of what was required of her to pay her bills. Believe it or not this is the first time I have heard someone express that you can and should have a day job WHILE still living a creative life.

There is an overwhelming push to turn your creativity into this wildly recognized career fueled by 40K+ instagram followers, brand partnerships, and work so hard creatively that you leave your job as a barista, nurse, teacher, part-time nanny, etc. There is a social (and conversational) pressure to reach a point in your creative work that your entire household can retire today; only then can you have validity in your pursuit and worth in your work.

Elizabeth is right in that my creativity would want to run for the hills, stop taking risks to be seen, become stifled by the burden of stipulations and pushed to exhaustion. This behavior would be a HUGE disservice to organic processes, playfulness of expression, and the sharing of what I consider my gifts. Losing my ability or desire to create is one risk I WILL NOT take. 

Sure its fabulous to be recognized, to gain new followers on social media, and to make money. Hello, that stuff rocks! But I no longer want to tell my creativity to "get its act together" so I can force a year's worth of paychecks out of it. I will keep my day jobs and thus sharpen the skills I glean from the variety of expression. In my own moments I will continue to curate, I will style, I will provide my services (and get paid for it). I will give my creativity the freedom that comes from a paid vacation; perspective, without the fear of the electricity back home being cut off. 

The pressure is off creativity! You can continue to bring opportunities my way and I can continue to live a life of choice. Inspiration not desperation is the space I want to grow and play in.