I realized that I was not cut out to be a corporate restaurant manager right around the same time that I discovered that somehow, against all probable odds, I was pregnant. In other words, for the last five and a half months I have been fighting an inner battle of truly epic proportions. If the fields of my mind were laid out on a map, they would resemble the last stand of the free folks of Middle-Earth against Sauron at the black gate of Mordor.
I am an artist. I am scattered, yet hyper focused. I am shaken to the core by my inspiration, and desolated by its absence. I stay up until 3am, I don’t set my alarm clock unless I have to, I drink too much coffee, I don’t do my dishes, and I don’t care if my house is a wreck as long as I know where to find my tools. I find dried paint in my hair and wood chips in my shoes, and I don’t care if my clothes are stained or torn as long as they are comfortable. I dig through drawers and boxes to find change to pay my rent (or to buy armature wire, whichever seems to be the most pressing priority). I glory in the beauty around me, and I recreate it at every chance I can. My eyes see the potential in every spare scrap of wood, fabric, paper, or metal, and my fingers make use of it.
I have spent my entire life attempting to shove this side of my soul into a neat little box, out of an irrational need for financial security, and the harsh opinion that my talent could never reliably support me. Rather than attending an art or craft college, I pursued degrees in web development, business, early childhood education, and sociology. My ineptitude in those areas showed; I did well in my courses but I could not maintain interest for the years required to obtain a degree. I skipped here and there, and finally dropped out. I made a place for myself in the restaurant industry, and proved to be good at the paperwork side of management (though I have never yet been able to force myself into being a ‘people person’, as people in general are very frightening to me). I got my current job, and I thought I had it made. I have a salary, after all. I have a clear path to promotion, I know the steps I must take to obtain it. And…I am overtly, unavoidably, absolutely miserable.
I wake up each morning with a lump in my throat. I iron my shirt, I put my hair back, I put on my make up, and I eat my breakfast. I get in my car and I try to pretend like I’m driving to the coast, or the mountains, or anywhere but the corporate cookie cutter that I work at. I arrive, I try not to let the back handed snide comments of my opening server get to me, and I hide in my office for as long as I possibly can before going out to face reality. I found joy in accomplishing the record-keeping work they assigned me…at first. Now it is drudgery, a thing I do because if I don’t do it I will get written up. I find every excuse I can to avoid doing what I have to, and I leave as quickly as I can at the end of my shift. I cannot ignore the fact that spending all that time in a place I hate robs me of more than just my day; it robs me of my inspiration, my passion, my motivation. I dread going back to work the next day so much that I sit and do nothing simply because it makes time pass more slowly.
The thought of having to go back there tomorrow is unbearable.
For the last few months, the chaotic artist side of me has been exerting itself more and more. I want to be able to actually see my son grow up, my heart reminds me, and at my current job I’ll be lucky to see him for a few minutes each night before he goes to bed. He will grow up without me, and I will wake up in ten years wondering who the gum-chewing mop-headed hellion who just stomped through my kitchen actually is. I want to make an impression on the world, it reminds me another time, and I will never do that as no-name middle-management for a conservative corporation. I am a rebel. I am passionate. I am free. What am I doing clipping my wings?
The simply truth is that I stay at my job because I am afraid. I am afraid that I will pour my heart and soul into my art and there won’t be enough interest in it for me to make a living. I am afraid of not knowing how I will pay the rent. I am afraid that I will roll right along fantastically for a few months and then my inspiration will go on vacation and I’ll be left high and dry. I am afraid of abject failure because I am not a saleswoman. I am afraid of not being able to take care of my son. I am also, weirdly (although probably not surprisingly) just as afraid of actual success.
My family is telling me to pursue my art, my heart is telling me it’s what I need to do…hell, even my tarot cards are telling me to do it. I have a hard time believing that eight separate readings that contain the same points for thought are pure random coincidence.
The only question I have at this point is how and when do I move forward with this crazy-daisy plan to jump into the rabbit hole? At what point does it stop being insane? When do I put my foot down and say “no, I am doing this now, and damn the short term consequences?”