About two years ago I quit my job. Was working in an office, I had a desk job with my own room with as much coffee as I could possibly drink. I did pretty much anything that my boss told me to do, from ordering more coffee to booking meetings and scheduling trips or interviews. Just a basic 9 to 5 job. Not very interesting and it surely sounds like anyone could do it. Well, I couldn’t.
It would be foolish of me to blame the job or my boss for the fact that I left. Truth is, I was the last person for that job. It took me a while, but I finally realised that I have to quit and I did. I left the so called secure income and traded it for insecurity. By many standards I’ve failed. I couldn’t fit into the role that I thought I was suppose to, you know, permanent position, house loan, two kids, half a dog and a Volvo.
But I learned so much from that failure. I learned that the world doesn’t stop if I actually do what I want and be the person I want to be.
Since then I’ve been trying to learn what does it really mean to be an artists. It’s not all about coping with the insecurity part.
Nobody ever really told me what is it that makes or breaks an artist. Nobody ever spoke about how to make a living once you are graduated, how to sell your script, book a gig or just what does it really mean to be an artist. Or maybe I just wasn’t listening. Anyhow, all of a sudden I was faced with a bunch of questions that I had no answers to. What is an artist? Am I an artists if I start to dress like a hippy and put flowers in my head? Or stop caring about my personal hygiene? Or scribble “poetry” that consist of words that nobody understands? Or just in general behave badly? Throw tantrums and go screaming “You don’t understand me, I’m an artist”. Will I be an artists if I become unstable, unreliable, an alcoholic with a drug problem? Or should I just don’t do nothing and live off others, like parasites? Am I an artist then? Nope, that’ s not an artist, that’s an asshole.
The truth is I still don’t have the answers for all the questions that I have. But I’ve learned a few things.
Maybe the most important lesson came with realising that I am not at all the person I thought I am. Yeah, by now you’d think I’d know myself. If you really want to get to know yourself I advise you to quit your job and start doing what you love to do and surely new things about yourself will emerge.
What do I mean by this? Well, for most of my life I thought that I like that my things are in order. It’s actually liberating when things are not. I don’t need to colour code my books or iron my shirts or have them folded into neat packs. Instead I can use that time and just… I don’t know, really go out and smell the roses.
Okay, the title says help yourself. Others can help you too of course, but you can start and make their life easier by helping yourself. This is how I helped myself:
1. I believe! In myself. Period. I figured there is no point doubting myself, others do it anyway. That leads to no2.
2. I don’t listen to other peoples opinions. Seriously, it’s my life. Yes, they all mean well most likely, but they have no idea. This doesn’t mean that you should never listen to anyone or any suggestions. What I’m saying is, do remember that everybody has a right to their opinions, but in the end it’s your life and you are in charge of it.
3. I read self help books! Some work, some don’t. I can recommend this one, The Artist’s way from Julia Cameron. ( http://www.amazon.com/The-Artists-Way-Julia-Cameron/dp/1585421464) It did seriously change my life. Friend of mine said that it’s too religious, maybe, but if you could just not get stuck on the God part and do the exercises, it will help you!
4. I try to be patient! This is really hard for me as well, but unfortunately the saying is true, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to get to know people in your area, to build a network, to get gigs, to make money and to even find what you really want to do. Don’t give up!
5. I treat myself with kindness. This means I stopped criticising and belittling myself in my daily life. So for example, when someone asks you what do you do, state with conviction that you are a singer or writer or what ever and don’t continue with the buts… meaning no more: but I’ve not have yet a record deal or but I don’t really make money from it and so on. (yup, I used to do this a lot) This is also about your inner monologue. You can change the way you think, your thoughts are actually deceitful, choose what you want to believe and what not.
6. I do the work! Most of the times. I’m also human, I do want to watch crap form the telly. But I do the work too! First it might be terrifying to think of the fact that you quit your job to do what you want. It does sound funny doesn’t it? It’s kind of like, you finally opened the correct door but you are too afraid to enter. I approach this singing business by narrowing it down to small bits. Like okay, 15 minutes of warm up, 1 hour ear training, half an hour learning a new song and so on. Make an appointment with yourself for various tasks and just show up. It’s actually simple. Don’t over think it!
7. I do things out of my comfort zone. You can start with small things, like talk to strangers. Or go bigger. Learn a new skill. I recommend snowboarding, you’ll be out of your comfort zone most of the time. Move to another country. I don’t know, anything that feels uncomfortable, you should do it, after a while it gets easy and your world grows bigger with it.
That’s about it.
Lastly, I was asked a question last week that I feel that every artist should think about, for whom is your art? I don’t know yet, but I know that, that answer is the key to unlocking my true potential. What is your true potential?