Making It Happen, Part Two

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HI GUYS! Sorry for disappearing. Life is very…full right now. As most of you know thanks to social media and my inability to blog in a timely manner, last week was my first week at my new job as the senior graphic designer at Karen Kimmel Studios. Telling people I’m moving from freelance to a full time job has elicited a wide variety of surprised faces and the face I dread the most – that twinkle of “oh, freelancing was going terrible for you” look in some eyes. Freelancing full time certainly was not lucrative – I made almost half what I made at my job before I went freelance – but I had expected and prepared for that, and by owning your own business in an expensive city standards, I was doing well. I could have kept on chugging along at the rate I was going for a few more years. We are comfortable and lucky, but I have no retirement plan, my insurance plan doubled in price this year, and the future felt so uncertain. But I could have dealt with that, I’m crafty. But what started to tug at me was this lack of purpose and focus. I thought freelancing meant only taking the jobs you want to take on – and you can certainly do that, unless you want to live somewhat comfortably. I missed the sense of community in working for a company that you want to better, I missed coworkers, I missed leaving the house, I missed structure. Having a studio helped briefly, and lord knows Katie helped me immensely with idea bouncing and keeping me company, but none of it was quite right. It wasn’t ever terrible – don’t get me wrong – it just didn’t feel right.

One day I had a complete meltdown that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and was tired of my financial and mental future, when Will told me: “look for a job”. This is a really similar conversation to ours five years ago when he told me to find a hobby and I ended up starting my jewelry line. I am stubborn and don’t like being told what to do, so I immediately told him that was out of the question – I loved freelancing and making my own schedule, and besides, we just got a damn dog. A high energy, needs lots of attention dog. He told me that I didn’t seem to love freelancing, making your own schedule is a luxury we can’t always have, and the dog was not allowed to dictate our lives like that. People with jobs have dogs. I was still grumpy about it, but eventually looked and came across this listing. It sounded perfect, it was a company I knew and loved, I was terrified. I was fairly certain I was qualified and somewhat confident I was perfect for it and it for me, but did I want this? I did so much soul searching. Like, so. much. soul. searching.

During all this soul searching I came to realize a few things that I think may resonate with some of you. This creative field world we live in – this blogging as a career, self-made Etsy supposed successes, follow your bliss mentality world – it can create a mentality that full time jobs are lame. That we should all be aspiring to working for ourselves and owning our own businesses. Joanna put it really nicely in her post about going back to full-time employment: I feel like it’s really popular right now to proclaim ‘yay freelancing,’ but when it comes down to it, it’s not for everyone. And I’m not saying that it’s not for me, because I actually think that someday in the future I will probably give it a go again, I’m just saying that it’s not the greatest creative achievement and not the only destination your creative path can lead to. I see a lot of people leave their jobs when they’re not ready for the leap, and a lot of people burn out quickly because of that. A handful of years ago there was such a rush of everyone quitting their jobs to live their dreams, but dreams change. Goals need to grow and shift, and some of us succeed in different ways. I’m starting to feel a little rumbling lately from some fellow freelancers that they’ve been thinking more about full time jobs, but I think a lot of people have a bit of an internal and external hurdle of unnecessary shame to overcome. Of knowing that so many people are not sharing their self-run business despair and pain, that working for someone else doesn’t have to equal a squashing of creative energy or personal growth, that nothing is forever.

I left a brainstorm last week at work feeling high. Buzzing with excitement over being around such awesome creative people doing awesome creative things. And that’s all it comes down to, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future and what it may hold. Sure, I’m not going to lie, it’s hard going from working on my own time for three years to being somewhere for a set number of hours everyday, but structure is good for me and I will adjust. Besides, I was starting to hold way too many one-way conversations with my pets.