WHO AM I?
Seeing who we are really isn’t easy because the mirror often eludes us. My perception versus personal vision of myself were not the same and this inner conflict has paralyzed me for a minimum of two decades. All this time I thought the fear of failure and the acceptance among my peers held me hostage when it was merely my view of the former that kept me from progressing toward my goals and dreams. There has been a discord between what I want to be and why, and actually achieving my dreams. Only in reclaiming ownership of my talents and gifts will I be true to who I view myself as.
We are uniquely created by a divine source that yields us special talents and gifts, yet many of us during adulthood, including myself, struggle with conflict in knowing what we are to use them for and why. I believe they are overtly evident when we are little but as we age the visions we have of our self, our talents and our gifts changes because of the unintentional perception afforded to us by others; somehow, we regress our gifts instead of growing them. I feel it is exceptionally rare for those perceptions to not affect our personal vision. We hear criticism and doubt or skepticism and jealousy; diverting our map to greatness along the way. So many have grand dreams and hopes leading into adulthood, then BAM, it hits…reality. Why do some stop believing that their dreams cannot be their reality?
I dreamed of being an artist. Drawing, painting, writing, singing, creating in any way that I could and inspiring others to discover the beauty they have within. That is my gift, my talent. When I was in high school I was encouraged to choose a ‘career’ based on my interests, gifts and talents only to be told later that what I wanted to do wouldn’t make me money. It was a dead end career choice. But I was bold and pig-headed and started out with a passion. I excelled in college, for one semester only, because that is all the longer I could stay. Private college, although small and resourceful for my needs in the arts, was too costly to continue. It also occurred to me during that time that I would have to travel and move across the country to achieve any sort of accomplished wage if I continued this course of education elsewhere, in addition to leaving my family and my boyfriend (now husband!) to do something I was unsure of. I moved back home and chose the only other option I knew to be creative and that was becoming a cosmetologist.
I have no shortage of passion when it comes to being creative, it changes my demeanor and fills me with such joy sometimes I think I may explode! It literally needs to get out onto paper. There is an age old saying though, that resonates with me about being an artist, and it has stayed with me forever…”starving artists get paid after they are dead.” GULP! How in the world can I take the single most fulfilling gift that I have and make money before I’m dead!?!?
I found no way other than to watch, listen, educate and persevere as a nail tech and stylist. This became my source of income, limited by the amount of guests I served and the amount of hours I was willing to work during the early stages of my career, which could be endless at that time. This continued until my husband and I had children. Suddenly there was this new desire to be the very best parent I could be, so that is what I chose to do for several years. It was rewarding to be able to be a stay at home mom and really all I did was exchange my income for that opportunity. I used any extra time I could steal and spent it at our church volunteering in any way I could be creative.
The crazy turns of life really can divert us from seeing ourselves as we want to be instead we are who we think we have to be. I really desired to be creative but was still being met with the opposition of failing to make a living doing what I truly loved. To this day, I am dumbfounded that those of us with artistic gifts often make money for others with our talents and not ourselves because of lack of knowledge in understanding how to brand and market ourselves. Many examples exist including executive producers of music, theater and dance, visual art, photography or sculpture. The artist often receives a sub-par wage or volunteers time or efforts in some cases and it most certainly is not an esteemed profession like a doctor, or a lawyer or a professor.
To say I wasn’t blessed to have the opportunity to remain at home during the formidable years of my girls would be a lie. I was able to set up a painting/drawing studio in a former office space in our home and dabbled in my arts until life got busier with the kids’ activities and my husband deciding to leave his job and go into business for himself, manifesting his dream. He worked all hours of the day and night and to say he was exhausted would be an understatement. Money was tight and I went back to being a hairdresser, both for the money and for my personal satisfaction of perhaps, finally, ‘making it’ in this career. I chose a salon, that I thought would benefit me in growing a clientele because of all of the advertising and I was able to make a living (sort of) again. I found I had really missed this profession while away and found the passion to be creative and gain more education. The salon, as much as it advertised, however, was not the correct fit for me. I heard of a new salon being built by a former co-worker and was soon on my way to finally making this ‘career’ thing work. It was my dream salon. Beautiful inside and out, a day spa that catered to body, mind and spirit with a great culture and team of co-workers. I loved it, and was finally able to make a great wage being creative.
Life has a way of bringing us back to ourselves, though. In this newfound illusion of success and making money in a ‘career’ that was more esteemed than being an ‘artist’ I inadvertently extended myself too much. Nights, weekends, split-shifts, education, community events and soon I was missing out on my girl’s events and spent less and less time with family and friends. I experienced a life changing car accident, lost my mom to dementia and my aunt whom I cared for during that time. My kids were needing a parent to be around as my husband’s business grew larger and he needed me to assist in the business. Life is about the choices we make in the situations we are given. I grew cold, resentful and angry. I had pushed away most everyone that I cared deeply about, but most disturbing of all, I lost myself and the ‘why’ in regards to my talent.
So, at my husband’s persistent suggestion (nagging), I’ve been given a great opportunity that I sometimes still think I don’t deserve. He has grown a successful business that I participate in daily through bookkeeping, errand running etc. and his success has afforded me the ability to take a leave of absence from this career and rediscover myself. Giving hope to my dream that I thought was lost and it sure feels amazing to be creating art again. A gift and passion that is family friendly and comes from within. Ahead of me is the task of creating an income revolving around this passion, before I’m dead!! (starving artist reference)
Too often, especially for those of us who are creative, putting our gifts aside to assume reality seems more important. I needed to find those who were successful in what I wanted to do and simply ask questions and do some research. In my nine weeks off, I have made some definite discoveries within myself and the torch has been lit. I have a fire again, my personal vision is re-appearing. Now comes the difficult part, having the faith to sustain me through the obstacles of achieving my dreams. Resisting the urge for complacency and replacing it with the enthusiasm. Forgoing opposition to complete what has been inspired from the beginning within ME!
It is true that life “happens.” Somewhere along the way we need to make the choice of what that life will consist of.