If You're a Creative in a Non-Creative Job, Read This
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
Let's start here: if you're an artistic person at heart, you can't run from it. You might think you can "grow out of" your angsty high school poetry-writing days, or it will "be enough" to appreciate other people's art, but you really can't. And it's not. You don't get to choose IF you're an artist, but you can choose HOW you include (or ignore) that part of yourself into your everyday life.
One of my biggest sources of anxiety lately is feeling disconnected from the artistic side of myself in the least artistic job I've held since I was a teenager. Don't get me wrong—I definitely see value in my work in marketing right now. It's good in that: I'm helping worthy businesses achieve their goals, I'm learning a lot, and I earn a stable salary (we don't talk enough about these kinds of benefits for artists who pursue full-time jobs in other fields).
But it's possible for work to be both good AND unsatisfying at the same time. I'm a positive person, but I can't ignore the reality that this phase of my life is unsatisfying in some big ways. Relationships don't have the depth I'm looking for, I don't get to move around and work with my hands off-screen, and I'm disconnected from the tangible outcomes we're trying to help our clients reach.
Lately, when I've been around art, I've had this quiet feeling that no matter how much I try to convince myself I'm fine......I really can't keep operating without creating. As in, it's not a "bonus" or a "hobby" or "just for fun". It's essential. My anxiety and depression flare up significantly without it.
I'm not in the business of giving up on commitments, though. Here are a few things I'm doing to find balance in my professional life right now:
Take one afternoon of PTO per month, dedicated to creative work only. This is not time for calling the bank or drinking wine by the pool or going to the dentist or taking a nap. This is dedicated daytime, weekday energy to put toward my own work.
Talk about creative projects with coworkers, friends, and family. It's amazing how much sharing my ideas or what I'm working on with others validates my identity as a creative. It avoids the "if a tree falls in a forest but no one was around to hear it, does it make a sound?" spiral.
Participate in the local creative community. I'm keeping track of events, putting them on my calendar, and making an effort to attend. I'm signing up to volunteer and joining as a member. This one is actually the toughest because I'm hyperaware that I'm starting almost from scratch here in Kansas City after building a community in Oklahoma for seven years. But we have to start somewhere.
Life is so long! It is possible to be in a non-creative job and still pursue creativity because it doesn't all have to be done in a day. In fact, it wasn't meant to be. :)