The moment of truth has finally arrived.
My university sent a work offer to me for the 2018-2019 academic year, and I actually turned it down.
This is so incredibly scary, and knowing that the odds of quantifiable success in the Creative Arts are against me makes this an even more terrifying decision, but despite the anxiety and the huge bitter dose of reality (OMG, am I really going to do this???), I know without a sliver of doubt in my mind that I have made the right decision. Still, although I’ve declined the university’s offer, I do intend to initiate some sort of way to bring in additional income besides my writing, which I’m sure will make quite a few interesting blog entires.
My hubby and I have had so many talks about this, and on Father’s Day, he said one particular thing that really resonated with me. He looked me in the eye and said, “You’re an artist. You absolutely have to create. If you don’t, you get physically ill until you’re doing something creative again. As much as you keep trying to convince yourself to go a traditional route, something inside you is always going to resist. Why not take a chance and just follow your calling?”
After hearing such heartfelt words of truth, naturally I briefly bawled like a baby, and then I fought the urge to eat an ice-cream sandwich because I’m in the middle of a 3-day juice cleanse (more on that later). Without a doubt, I’ve been aware of all of those things that he expressed for a long time. To be honest, he’s been encouraging me to “go for it” for the past 5 years. Nevertheless, I’ve been purposely holding myself back. Yes, I’ve written 5 novels in that amount of time, but always on the side, almost as an afterthought. But, dear readers, hold onto your seats: At the beginning of this month, I actually bit the bullet and formally started my own business. This rollercoaster ride is now official.
Yes, I know the statistics about the frequency of small businesses failing, and I know that this won’t be easy. But even if it fails to generate ‘substantial’ cash flow, I already know that this venture will not be a failure. This is an experience that I simply have to go through, and as my husband so eloquently stated in one brilliant moment, as an artist, I simple must create.
For those of you who understand the struggle, calling yourself an artist isn’t the least bit conceited. Actually, it isn’t even a compliment, really. It’s a public confession that you are a person who is a servant of Expression, addicted to communicating, and is an incurable optimist who can’t let go of things like hope, love, or sentimentality – despite the fact that the number one driving force in the world of “success” is monetary gain.
There is a Zen proverb that says “Let go, or be dragged.” This is exactly what my head and heart are saying now. If I continue to work this dead-end career that brings me less and less fulfillment year after year, then it will continue to bring me down; not only emotionally, but physically as well. So, the only logical solution is the let go. (Why do you think that song from Frozen was such a success? Straight up sound advice.)
So, Lovies – here goes. Fingers crossed!
After the initial celebratory “Wow, that’s awesome! You’re so brave!” conversations, the real questions will start to come up. Far too often these days, people start popping up with fantastic ideas and amazing energy; yet after a month or so, the excitement starts to wane, and then the honeymoon is over. As in a real marriage, starting your own business as a writer, even initially part-time (which is a smart thing to do), is something that takes real commitment. We all know that anything called a “part-time” job only means that less $$$ lands in your pocket – by no means does it indicate less work on your end!
I’ve decided to concentrate on what I consider to be the basics, and I’ll be more than happy to share what they are in future posts.
For now, I’m going to enjoy a few moments of relaxation and solitude, add to my ever-growing list of Things That Must Be Done, and CTFD. Seriously. If you could feel the excitement in my words right now, you would think that I’m some sort of toddler who just can’t sit still for anything. It’s always easy to talk about things that you want to do, and it’s often fun to dream about them; but to really look yourself in the mirror, make the decision to turn a dream into a goal AND THEN GO FOR IT is something that really should be celebrated.
Being a highly-critical psudo-perfectionist, I have extreme difficulty accepting praise and being content with my work. This is one of the prominent disadvantages of being a classically trained vocalist. There’s always one more tweak, one level higher to aim for. Because I know that I’ll never completely eradicate that aspect of my personality (and for many reasons, I don’t even want to), I am learning to accept more zen-like perspectives and adapt them into my daily life.
Let go, or be dragged.
How many times have you had an inner conflict that led you to just want to walk away from it all, but something always held you back from taking that final step? Obviously, I’ve been there. I’ve just overcome the paralysis (again). This step is probably just as crazy as when I left all that I knew and loved in the United States to be with the man I loved (and still do) in Europe. I was scared to death, terrified of the unknown, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can only hope and pray that this one will also lead me to more joy, happiness, and contentment. And any financial windfall that comes about would be welcomed, too. 😉
My last words of advice are pretty simple: Let your bravery dictate your next actions, and not the other way around.
©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time
– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance.