If you’re wondering where I’ve been for the past month, first of all, I’m flattered that you’re regularly reading my blog and noticed my absence at all. Thanks! Sorry for deserting you!
I’m afraid I’ve fallen victim to a bit of hopelessness – Jeff and I have experienced quite the run of bad luck on the finding-an-apartment front, and are sublet-hopping for our lives as we wait for the stars to align and some key documents to make their way into our possession. I’ve also had a string of false starts on my search for employment (if you have a freelance writing job for me, drop me a line!). Luckily Jeff and I have some really awesome and supportive friends, or our morale would be in the negative digits right now.
In addition to the stupid living and working mess we’ve got going on, I realize that I’m falling victim to my own stupidity, for which I owe myself a big apology. In my quest for stability and safety (neither of which I’ve really found yet, oops), I’ve neglected my personal wellbeing, and forgotten what exactly I want out of life. So I’m writing this DIY tutorial for myself, to remind myself that personal fulfillment is worth striving for, even if everything else in life sucks. Maybe it will help you, maybe you will read it and go awwww, maybe you have advice for me, maybe you can relate. This is my plan of action, and as far as I’m concerned, everyone should have their own.
To start: don’t listen to anyone who tells you that if you do what you love, the money will follow. It’s most likely a lie, unless you love investment banking, lobbying for big business, or being a high-class hooker (and have the luck and connections to pull off those careers). I love making sound collages and performance art. I love writing. I am fairly talented at these things, and have almost a decade of training in these artforms from some of the most capable, inspirational artists and teachers you will ever meet. I’ve also been paid a sum total of less that $5,000 for all of the artistic work I’ve done over the past 10 years, and most of that money came from writing copy, not poetry. Forget about making money. Do your thing because you love it. Maybe you’ll find a way to make a few bucks off of it, maybe not. Don’t let that be your only goal. Don’t let money define your legitimacy, either. Own what you do. Care about it. Work hard at it. Or don’t.
Decide for yourself if your passion is a hobby, or a vocation. For me, it’s a vocation, a calling. Saying that makes me feel stupid, and like people are going to question my legitimacy/talent/devotion/credentials. But it feels better than not saying it! And if you’re out there and laughing at me because you think I’m a wannabe or a no talent hack (I realize you probably aren’t thinking that, but this is my big fear), then screw you! Death to the nonbelievers!
If you don’t have money, do things that are cheap/free. Don’t use poorness as a crutch - you’ll still be poor if you neglect yourself. Poor and unhappy.
Reach out to people. Even if you don’t particularly care about building a community of like-minded individuals, chances are you want to know about what’s going on in the world and how you can become a part of it. I’ve booked awesome shows by e-mailing strangers who sent out ads. I’ve gotten grants and studio space and opportunities by talking with people. I’ve never gotten anything but depressed sitting at home on my butt, refusing to interact with anyone.
Work. Work on something. Actively. Engage your interests. I can’t perform a show if I haven’t created one. Can’t publish the blog I haven’t written. Maybe this isn’t my best blog post, but it’s better than the one I didn’t write, and infinitely more shareable.
In the end, I think the best advice is the beautiful cliche: Just Do It. I’ve pushed aside my personal calling and emotional needs for the past several months, waiting to figure everything else in my life out before getting back into the studio/discovering a community/doing my thing. And I’ve been deeply dissatisfied, and it’s only made everything else harder. Lesson learned: don’t push aside your personal needs, or they will grow and overwhelm you. Do what yo gotta do, or the meltdown will eat you alive.