This is going to be a negative, self loathing, complaint filled post, so if you’re not down with that, I suggest you wait for my next post 🙂
I am not a positive person. I used to be 100% the most negative person you would probably ever meet. I’ve gotten better, but I still worry about the tree falling on the house before it’s even planted. Now I tend to view myself as ‘realistic’ although that can tend to lean towards the negative side of things as well.
Since quitting my job last November, my moods have changed quite a bit. I tend to be less stressed and I am able to focus on things that are important to me, mainly my art and my husband. When I was working full time, especially right before I quit, my anxiety hit all time highs. Every single day I would freak out about things related to work. If Eric and I carpooled he got slapped in the face with my work complaints as soon as he got in the car. If I worked a closing shift and got home at 10pm, he would be in bed, but I still would walk in the room with a major chip on my shoulder about work, wanting to recount every bad thing that happened that day.
At work I was having mini panic attacks almost every day. I would cringe when I was the only manager on duty, having to deal with customer issues. Not only was the company and the way they handled things disorganized, but I felt ill-equipped to handle the issues. It’s not that I think I was a bad manager or not good at my job, but I just didn’t care anymore. I was so sick of the way it was making me feel, and sometimes even making me feel physically ill. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to be at home, focusing on my art.
So, now that I am at home full time, I’m always happy right? Wrong. I am MUCH HAPPIER, don’t get me wrong. But I have my moments. I still suffer from bipolar, I still suffer from depression, and I still have anxiety. I still worry about things, albeit different things. Things that matter more than the things I was stressed over before.
I love being an artist, but the term “starving artist” means a lot more than eating top ramen all the time. Yes Eric works full time, but we went from having two full time incomes down to only one. The financial struggle is real. We have had to make major cutbacks. Seems easy right? It would be, if we already hadn’t been living relatively frugal lives. It’s hard to cut back when you’ve already been a bargain shopper.
But aside from the financial side of the “starving artist” life, I’m also starving for contact. There are weeks when I don’t see anyone but Eric, and he works all day, almost every day. I don’t have a support system past my marriage. Visits from people are rare, calls and texts are fewer, and there’s not a whole lot of support of my art from people that I (used to) care about the most. Of course family is pretty much excluded from this. My brother and sister come to my Art Walks and try and be as supportive as their means allow. My parents also are supportive, with my dad always cheering me on, and my mom even helping with creative aspects that I am not able to do on my own. I also have one friend who has pretty much been supportive of my art since the day we met.
But aside from that, where is everyone else? Sure, there are a few other people who pop up now and again, but for the most part, people don’t want to hear about the struggle of my art, which is now the struggle of my life. Even friends don’t ask how it’s going, they simply say “I see your art is doing really well!” as though hoping I won’t contradict them by telling them the truth. But the truth is, it’s not. Pretty much every day for me is spent at my wit’s end, scrambling to figure out what the heck I am going to do to get people to look at and purchase my art. I am burnt out doing it alone. I spend hours every day posting to Instagram, searching the internet for local craft fairs, fine tuning my 3 Etsy shops, and just trying to keep my head above water.
This is the life of a starving artist. It’s not glamorous, it’s not gallery openings with art collectors every weekend, and it most definitely IS a very lonely place. So next time you want to be supportive, ask me what you can do to help, ask me how my journey as an artist is going, or even just ask me for a few business cards that you can hand out.
I’m not unemployed, I’m an artist.