Pursuing a Creative Career: My Fear of the 9-5 Job

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In a world in which success is measured by having a steady income, good savings and a good contract, it is difficult to get by without those things. It is difficult to be taken seriously when you don’t want those things. People who grow up dreaming of making music, acting, painting or writing, people who want to spend their days being creative, working their own hours and deciding how each of their day will go are so often forced to supress their ambitions and confine themselves into a life they don’t want. The idea of a creative career is just not supported in our society.

For as long as I can remember, the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life was write. Stories, articles, poems, anything. To put my thoughts onto paper and clear my mind. When I learnt that you could make a living from that, that was it, this creative career was my path. But it’s not easy to make a living from writing, nor from acting or painting or music; and everyone would insist that having a backup plan is important. Having a job is one thing. Having a career is another. I could spend my day working in a bookshop to pay my bills and buy food, fine. Will I ever be truly happy doing that? Probably not. Would I be happy dedicating my life to a fully-fledged career? Definitely not. And that is what scares me.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the comfort and the security of a steady pay; I understand the ease of life that comes with it all. But I can never quite picture myself with a steady job, in a two-up two-down house, saving up to go on holiday and spending my time in an office pretending to be someone I’m not, who’s interested in people I have no interest in.

The best hope would be to succeed in my own image. To make a living from writing, a cottage by the sea and a cat I could spend every day with. Waking up one morning and thinking, yes, I think I’ll go visit my friend or my sister today or no, I don’t want to wear ‘proper’ clothes today. It’s a luxurious sounding life and I was never very good at following directions. Never liked being told what to do, never liked living at the hours or under the rules of other people.

In this world, this society anyway, those rules are difficult to escape. But I am determined to not let them stop me.

Life is so riddled with expectations and problems. What you should be, how you should act, how you should live. But living under, or indeed for, the expectations of other people and ignoring your own call is, in my own opinions, not really living. I like the idea of being allowed to disappear, to live each day exactly how I want to live it. Eat when I want, go home when I want, wear what I want. I am inspired by and admire the people who reject the ‘standard’ way of living. People who travel the world and set up shop in some remote corner. People who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of something so much more than what is within their reach.

Whilst my love, or rather my need, to write keeps me going, it is heavily supported by the fear of becoming stuck in the nine to five. Ridiculous, maybe. Something to get over and grow up? Probably. Doesn’t mean I will. I don’t want to be dictated by material possession and having men in suits think I’m doing a good job. Freedom looks different to many people, and to me, it looks like a view of the sea, inky fingers and a cat.

I might end up in the life I’m trying to avoid, but I won’t stop trying to get that idyllic creative career, and in the words of Dolly Parton, ‘there’s a better life and you think about it, don’t you?’

Yes, I do, Dolly, and think I always will.

 

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