People have told me for as long as I can remember that I am “artistic”. “So creative!” “So knacky!” But I also had an interest in science growing up, and I felt like being an artist wasn’t a realistic ambition. I never could have predicted the immense difference between my life in my early twenties and my life now that I am a thirty-year-old creative entrepreneur. Even writing that out - “creative entrepreneur” - seems surreal to me, considering the path I was once on.
I spent a lot of my life in the passenger seat. I deal with a lot of fear and anxiety in my life, some of which I know is completely irrational. My list of fears is long and sometimes borderline comical, and includes but is not limited to: cats, mice, squirrels, actually most of the animals…. trampolines, needles, duo-tangs, trying my hardest and failing, and (oddly enough) trying my hardest and succeeding. So life can sometimes feel much easier when I can sit back and relax and let someone else take the wheel.
But as fun and stress-free as that can be, it certainly isn’t ideal. Sure, it’s lovely to sit in the back of a pickup truck heading down a beautiful red dirt road. The wind is in your hair, the scenery is beautiful, and you can’t see the obstacles heading toward you. But you might end up someplace you don’t want to be, and you don’t know how you got there, and maybe you’ve gotten stuck in a rut so deep it feels hopeless and scary, and it’s starting to get dark out.
After graduating with a science degree, I spent 3 years sitting at a desk writing policies based on government regulations and scientific studies… and I was miserable. I worked for a great company, with great people, and my job was steady and secure. I was using my university degree, and that felt so important to me. You don’t struggle through years of school to abandon everything you’ve learned, right? But this job was boring, and it had very little room for creativity. I had completely failed to realize that I need creativity in my day to feel fulfilled, and now I felt stuck.
I started daydreaming about living a more creative life. I pictured my future self working from home, making beautiful things. I spent more and more time watching YouTube videos by immensely talented artists, and would stop at Michael’s on my way home from work way too often. I wanted to try every creative medium possible. I dabbled in knitting, watercolour painting, beading, jewellery making, and polymer clay. I started making polymer clay earrings and my boss bought a pair for each of his nieces. My very first sale! I sometimes wonder if he had any idea that in that moment he lit a spark that would eventually lead to me quitting my job to try to establish and nurture a more creative life.
It was less than three years before I could no longer ignore my need for change. I left my job, and continued to build my own creative practice and business. Even though giving up a steady income was frightening, I had the support of my partner, family, and friends. I met amazing local makers and artists, many of whom have a very special place in my heart. Being surrounded by other creative people keeps me feeling inspired and gives me confidence to share my work with the world.
Once I had taken the leap toward a more fulfilling life, opportunities arose for me. My sister-in-law Natalie asked me to open a gift shop with her, and that long-term goal became a real life business. We named our sweet little shop “Lupin”, and it is my very favourite place in the world! I spend my summer months by the seashore in Stanley Bridge, meeting wonderful people, enjoying my passion for promoting other artists, and encouraging community over competition. In the off-season, I work from home making embroidery art and recently started working part time as an apprentice to a silversmith whose work I really admire. In September, I married a wonderfully supportive man who encourages me daily, and helps me get through the scariest moments of self doubt.
So my message to you, Belles, is this:
Don’t let your fear hold you back. Imagine the life you want to have in the future, and make the steps toward achieving it. You know in your heart what you need to do to have the life you dream of. Leave that dead end job! Make that phone call! Pick up that paintbrush!
No matter how tiny or insignificant the step feels, it is still taking you down the path you have chosen to be on. Beautiful things happen when you get into the driver’s seat and embrace that lovely little spark of fearlessness. Don’t be afraid, don’t feel alone, and, most importantly, don’t quit your daydream. You’ve got this.