The Road Less Taken
Reflections on the uncertainties of having a career in art
It’s scary out there on your own
Freelance work, while it’s very ideal in many levels, is difficult and time consuming. You literally need to start from scratch especially when you haven’t much experience putting up your own business. That is why most of us work behind the desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week or longer under the same company for the rest of our lives. Though many millennials now are known to be hopping from one job to another in less than a year most of the workforce are still prone to dedicate themselves to longevity in a firm with a promise of a fat pension plan upon retirement.
If you belong to the Y-generation and confident that you can work full time as a creative, then by all means jump into the wagon. Just brace yourself for it is going to be a long bumpy ride ahead. But if you are like me, near my forties, and have realized that being an artist is the path you should have taken many years ago and now given a chance to make that happen no matter the cost, go ahead and follow your neglected dreams. However if you have no other means of earning an income other than the one you have right now and still have mouths to feed and bills to pay, you might want to step back and assess your options and maybe decide at the end of the day to carry on working for someone until you're 65. Until then can you only permit yourself to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
The unknown beckons and only the brave survive.
Discouragement will be the death of you
A lot of my friends about my age, including myself at times, are now going through a limbo phase, where they feel burnt out from their jobs and also being left out by their contemporaries. They ask why that other person has moved onto a better life or a high-ranking position. They ponder if they've become a failure or whether they have lived up to their parents or teachers' expectations.
In my life so far, I have learned to refrain from comparing myself from others. It is a difficult task but it is doable. One success story from a distance may seem too easy because we only know the gist of it: "Oh, have you heard? So and so is now a doctor." However we often forget that in between those two sentences, that person also had to struggle for years with blood, sweat and tears. So and so had to survive a decade of studying and grueling examinations to get a license to practice. Even then, he or she may not be as fulfilled as one might assume. The adventure continues. Remember that all of us have our own timeline and road to take and our final destination will depend entirely on the choices we make with a little help from the Universe—perhaps.
You see, I envy the confidence of youth because they have nothing to lose. They are passionate, determined, willing and healthy. We were all once like that until we get entangled in the hustling and bustling world of adults.
Though someday, this youth will go away and time would have slipped through your wrinkly and shaky hands that you cannot even hold a brush. What I am trying to say is that regardless of how jaded you have become, when you're mindful enough, you can always reach out to your younger self and be reminded of that former devil-may-care attitude. Go back to whatever creative activity that made you happy when you were a child. If finding that younger self is proving to be difficult, just look at what you are painting now and you might just realize, it is there reflecting you.