If you read yesterday’s post, you know I’m processing some intense feelings these days. Feelings of shame, of loss, and — at the same time — hope. All tied to finally, finally listening to my intuition and becoming the artist I’m meant to be.
So when Facebook reminded me of this blog post that my friend Lauree wrote about me a year ago, it felt like a bit of divine comedy. Because in it, she recounts how “right” it felt to me, just a year ago, to accept a job that had absolutely nothing to do with my art.
Nearly one year ago to the day my friend – writer and communications consultant Amanda Hirsch – along with her husband and young daughter uprooted from their home in Brooklyn to resettle near their families in Washington, D.C.
Nearly one year later to the day, they are moving back to New York City, and she’s leaving her successful consulting business to return to corporate America.
Her post is about the “feeling of rightness” that led me to make this decision.
I think I can speak for most of the readers of her blog, Having it Alt, that this wasn’t what any of us had in mind for her either. After hearing her story, though, it makes perfect sense.
“From our first conversation, I felt a strong connection…and the more we talked, the more I felt this pull — this feeling of rightness. When they asked if I might consider a new full-time role they were creating, I said yes, I was open to that. It turns out, that role is pretty much made for me.”
Well, if you read yesterday’s post, you know that this “perfect” role didn’t last long. Less than a year after I started, my position was eliminated. And the guy I first spoke with, who seemed like such a kindred spirit? Gone, too.
Even before the layoff, that feeling of rightness was pretty quickly replaced with a feeling of, “Wait — what?” While I certainly enjoyed aspects of my time there, there were signs early on that this wasn’t such a good fit, after all.
So where does that leave me?
What does it mean, when something feels so right, and then, it just isn’t?
I think it means I’m a very good storyteller. And I spun myself a compelling yarn.
I told myself that here was an opportunity to make a good salary without selling out. That’s been my deal, for years: Figuring out how to make money while working for a good cause so that with each day that passes that I’m not a full-time artist, at least I can rationalize that my time and energy is going somewhere worthwhile.
We needed the money, and here was a way to do it without feeling wrong in my own skin.
Except it did feel wrong.
Because no amount of work that isn’t that work is ever going to be really, truly right.
But I couldn’t face that, then (and I’m trying hard to face it now). Choosing to pursue my creative work full-time wasn’t practical. It was irresponsible to harbor such dreams when there were bills to be paid.
So I convinced myself that a job that checked all these other boxes was “so right.” Because I hoped, foolishly, that money and “stability” (if there is such a thing, which I don’t think there is) would make me stop wanting what I really wanted.
“Look at fate intervening!”, I told the world, because that is what I do, I tell the world, everything — because when I get the public narrative down it helps me tell the story to myself.
The truth is, it’s fucking hard to be an artist. So I keep looking for the escape hatch, while also pining for more. It’s a mind-fuck.
It would be a lot easier to want less from this world, from this life. To be satisfied with conventional things, with a 9-5 job. But I am not satisfied. I keep trying to come up with a reasonable game plan for my life that indulges the artist in me just enough to keep her happy, like giving a toddler a cookie to avoid a tantrum. My artist isn’t a toddler, though, she’s a grown-ass woman with grown-ass desires and she is frankly insulted to still be getting a cookie to shut her up. She is demanding more respect.
I think perhaps that the work of becoming ourselves is learning to know the difference between what feels right and what we wish felt right.
It feels like money solves everything. Like it’s always the responsible thing to choose the path that leads to stability. But if stability is an illusion (because, hello? layoff. there are no guarantees), what happens when we stop chasing it (and money as a proxy for it) and instead allow ourselves to be the wild creatures we truly are? To listen to our own beating hearts? To stop telling ourselves stories that keep us playing small?
I don’t have answers. I’m still terrified about money, truth be told. But I’m listening, universe. I’m noticing that denying who I truly am isn’t leading to stability or a big fat bank account. I’m trying my hardest to do the brave thing.
I wish you the bravery you need this week.
P.S. This clip about from Fantastic Mr. Fox always resonated so deeply with me, as a reminder to honor the wildness inside of us (granted, he’s a fox, but I think the message is for us human audience members).
Original background photo above by Patty Satijn on Flickr