When my daughter was seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?’– Howard Ikemoto (artist and art professor)
I’ve always been creative, for pretty much as long as I can remember. My childhood was filled with arts, crafts and music, and every day was an exciting adventure of creation.
Somewhere along the way though I lost touch with my creative self. It happened slowly but surely, until one day I found myself at 21 years of age staring blankly at a computer screen filled with spread sheets wondering what on earth I was doing.
I had just finished a business degree at uni and started my first full-time job. I’d landed a graduate position at a big insurance company straight out of my degree. It was something I had strived towards and worked incredibly hard for. But there I sat wondering how I got there.
My 9-5 Existence
I would go to work, sit in my cubicle and do what I considered rather mundane and meaningless work five days a week 9 to 5. It was uninspiring to say the least.
As I sat at my desk each day I would look around at all the other people in that big grey office. I was the youngest in my department by almost ten years and I wondered to myself where all the other people my age were. Out having fun, discovering themselves and their passions I assumed. In many cases I was correct.
Many of my own friends were out doing great things – studying their creative passions, starting bands and going on exchange at uni to live in a new country for a year. The stark contrast with my own situation was confronting and thought provoking.
The days were long, tedious and mundane. Imagining myself working in that office, or others similar, for one year was painful enough, let alone a lifetime. Before long I decided that I needed to make a change.
The Seeds of Change
I started looking into my options to do something I would really enjoy. Not as a new career, but rather a hobby. Something that might relieve me of the boredom of my day job and stimulate the senses.
I had always had the creative spark, though it was something I had fallen more and more out of touch with in the previous few years. One thing I had developed an interest in recently though was sewing, and with that in mind I decided to enrol in a short sewing course at my local community college. It was only a five week course but it sparked my interest and got my confidence up to think bigger.
Rediscovering My Creativity
As I dreamt bigger, I imagined the possibilities. I begun looking into local college courses for Fashion Design and just a few months later I was enrolling in a part-time design course. I attended night classes after work two nights a week and although it was exhausting it got me through what was otherwise a rather mundane existence. I looked forward to the creative outlet and I learnt so much.
I learnt how to sew, drape, make patterns, design, illustrate and more. It was stimulating and fun. I felt so engaged and excited for this work. In fact, it was pretty much the complete opposite of how I felt when doing my work at the insurance company. That work drained me. It left me feeling unfulfilled and exhausted. In contrast my fashion design work lifted me up. It gave me energy, enthusiasm and joy.
I spent the next year struggling away at my job at the insurance company.
As it became clearer that fashion was what I wanted to do full-time, the reality of my day to day work became harder. Sometimes it brought me to tears. Most of the time though it just left me feeling completely flat. No energy, no motivation and zero fulfilment.
Deciding to Leave It All Behind
I knew I needed to make this a bigger change, but I was scared. I had invested years of my life into my dream of working in the business world. I had strived towards it at school and throughout university. To throw it all away felt like I would be letting down myself and everyone around me who had helped me get there.
Before long though, I received the push I needed. My ultimate salvation came during a company restructure. It was 2009, right in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis and my company was one of many cutting staff. Hundreds lost their jobs and there were tears and uncertainty over the future by many of the people I worked with. The layoffs came slowly, and secretly, though with some guilt, I hoped I would be next.
The Push I Needed
One morning my manager called me into her office to break the news to me. I too was to be retrenched. I tried to hold in my excitement, but it was my out – the push I so badly needed. I was secretly overjoyed.
I gladly accepted and I knew at that moment what I was to do. That very day I contacted the college where I was studying to see if I could study my design course full time. Luckily there was a spot and over the next year and a half I would study Fashion Design full-time and get my Diploma.
Following My Heart
The last few years have been exciting because I’ve been following my heart to do what I love. Leaving my work at the insurance company wasn’t my clear cut to a creative life. In fact the last few years have seen me in and out of the business world to varying degrees, often for necessity’s sake.
Every time I have been back for a short stint it has only convinced me further that doing what I am doing is the absolute right thing for me. And at every point over the last few years I have had my new goal guiding me – to live creatively everyday and do what I love.
Living the Change Every Day
Today I am living a creative life every day as the designer of my own fashion label and the founder and writer of a blog on all things creative. The journey hasn’t always been easy or clear cut, but I’m so glad I’m here.
Sometimes it’s hard to make a change. We often feel we have invested so much in our current situation that to make the switch would be to waste everything we have put in up to that point. I believe though that when you know at your very core that what you are doing is not right, it’s time.
I’m so glad I set the wheels of change in motion with that very small first step because it has lead me to where I am today.
Have you made a change to live a more creative life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.