If you think you’re not getting enough flack from people for getting an art degree or, later, for not having a job—definitely start your own company. This kind of flack is something art grads could speak volumes on. People tend to give aspiring art majors a lot of grief about their vocational plans from the outset when they declare themselves an art major. So imagine that grief and then amplify it with the grief entrepreneurs are given over starting businesses. Next, sandwich both those things together in the middle of a recession and serve with a side order of ridicule and passive-aggressive, condescending remarks.
There’s this awkward paradox about being your own boss. You’re working sometimes up to 20 hours in a day, but there will be people who feel inclined to remind you over and over that your value is tied only to your worth in dollars earned that day, prorated to your hourly wage. Another common attitude is that what you’re doing isn’t work at all. Many entrepreneurs will echo this sentiment, but your hourly rate as a business owner starting out isn’t typically very much and the hours are consuming. You’re learning as you go, and it’s all new. It’s not enough to know how to do your craft alone. Now you need to be good at so many things while also being out-going and interesting somehow. You also have to market it, do customer service, optimally and safely ship your wares, and social network. Social things make me want to become “one” with the wallpaper…which is sort of funny considering I’d rather be designing surface designs and patterns that could, instead, technically be used to create wallpaper. So many hats and only one head. So many tasks and so little time. If there were an award they handed out to entrepreneurs when they’re in the height of building their business, I imagine they’d be for things like “Most consecutive days of unwashed hair, rapidly eating unheated meals, and not leaving your home at all.”
I’m an introvert. I like art for how I can wall myself up in a room and create brand new things that can mean something outside those walls. I like quiet because my ideas are so loud in my head that the quiet nurtures productivity. In that, introversion and marketing and/or salesmanship aren’t a great match. I don’t like how marketing so often can pretend as if a person knows whether or not other people need a product. I don’t know what strangers need. Pretending feels so disingenuous. I don’t want to convince people they need my products when they don’t; I’d much rather that someone simply want them and seek them out—appreciation not coercion. In the over-saturation of internet commerce, it can sometimes feel like you’re jumping up and down saying “pick me, please pick me” while also wishing it didn’t have to be that way simply to pay bills and put food on the table.
So much was learned and started and created in those years.
Even through all that confusion and the scariness of learning of new things, I had this gut feeling at the beginning of all that that I was at the crossroads of a now-or-never moment. I could meet all these set-backs with resignation and give in to them, or I could blaze a path. I chose the latter. I had reasons that went back several years actually.
This is part 6 of 31 in a personal story participating in the Write 31 Days Challenge. To start at the beginning or to see all the posts in order, click here. If you want to follow along, follow on social media or subscribe as a reader to Eclectic Affinity.
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