For a long time, I imagined that if I could just leave behind the day job and focus only on my own business then I would gain some new level of clarity and creative genius I hadn’t been able to reach with the obstacles that having a “regular job” created. I envisioned time to delve deeply into personal projects, never again getting behind on editing, time to write and create freely, and a muse that was always within reach and readily available. There would be hardships and setbacks, of course. There would be worry, too - but I had been a worrier back when I had a regular paycheck as well.
The truth is, running your own business is a lot like having children - as much as you read about it, study it, and believe in your readiness for it, you just can’t know until you’re really there. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t really know. I knew it would be great, but I didn’t really know that, either.
Working alone every day is lonely. Funneling everything you have into your creativity is exhausting, and often leaves you with more questions than answers. There isn't time to delve deeply into personal projects, or to gleefully watch as your creativity expands to fill the entire universe. After the kids are in bed, you are back at it, because you have to be. No one encourages your quest for personal wellness - it only happens when you make sure to make time for it. The muse is absolutely not within reach and readily available. She shows up much more like a comet or a shooting star, where you catch a fleeting glimpse and then wonder if that’s really what you saw.
All of this is not to say that I’m not happy to be where I am, because believe me, I am overjoyed. I know with every fiber of my being and every gray hair taking its place on my temples that I’m on the right path. I’m happier and more “in my own skin” in this job than I ever was in any previous place of employment. I’m who I say I am and who I want to be, more or less. I can’t believe this is my life. But not in the pure, black and white way you hear other people say it. It’s way more of a gray area than I ever thought possible. A gray area where I belong, for sure, but still gray.
It’s winter. My office is too cold in the morning because there’s no one here to put the heat on other than me. My main task right now is number management, in preparation for taxes. Did I mention I am not an accountant? Not my favorite thing. My muse is elusive right now. I see fleeting glimpses but I just don’t even know if it’s really her. I suppose if my life was pure black and white I could be looking for my muse in some exotic place, or on some snow-capped mountaintop. Instead, I look for her right where I am, right where I can be right now whilst juggling all the plates I am currently spinning.
So here is my day, my life I can’t believe is mine: numbers, emails, phone calls. Homework, yoga, pancakes for dinner, making homemade Valentine’s. Writing and photo editing after the kids go to bed. More of the same tomorrow. Imperfect, but perfectly mine, the gray area I choose to inhabit with the trust that the muse will keep showing up, and I’ll keep catching enough of a glimpse out of the corner of my eye to keep dreaming.
Thanks to Dora for being my photo assistant today. All photos including me were taken by her.