The Creative Professional
Developing as a creative professional feels very much like the experience a tightrope walker may have in the circus. Instead of balancing your weight and mass, as a creative professional you balance experience, a portfolio of work, and livable wages. You must possess an ability to both perform and survive. Throw on top of that the fact that trends in the marketable spaces where your creativity can live (and your work can sustain you) are always changing. This alone makes it feel like that tightrope is less securely fixed to solid poles and more just hanging there impossibly jiggly. How should you balance these multi-faceted variables while still ensuring a positive, enriching, and rewarding professional experience?
Having graduated with my Bachelor's in 2013 and just recently with my Master's, I feel like I've approached this precipice more than once and haven't quite grappled with how to navigate it yet. I'm in a strange position where years of professional experience has shaped and informed my approach to work, yet I'm still hungry to keep experimenting and learning what I love, a benefit that isn't always readily available in a corporate setting. It feels as if I've reached a point where that push to challenge yourself for some unforeseen benefit in the future (like that perfect job) is not exactly wasted effort but slightly more complicated. It isn't as easy to just say "okay, this is what I'm working for" and continue on your merry way toward it. New forces are dictating what I can and can't do, like the need to pay rent and student loans, the desire to save for a home and grow my IRA, the need for healthcare. And, a very happy new variable is that I now want to make sure the desires and goals of my husband are met as well, for I very much care whether or not he is happy and fulfilled, too.
There's no way to fully predict your future, and let's face it, hard work and motivation isn't always the magic formula for leading you to that point of life that you always envisioned for yourself, that perfect home, that rewarding career, a life of easy-going serendipity. Creativity, like life itself, is something that is both rewarding and sometimes depleting. I view creativity in the workplace as being that, also.
Even though I sometimes default back to relying on "the journey" trope of life, in actuality I hate that metaphor. Alan Watts-style. Perhaps the wandering one takes as one finds their niche, feels rewarded and enlightened, re-discovers what made them choose to push for their creative goals is what makes the bad parts worth it and the good parts all the more exciting.