When I was little, my parents told me every day how I could be anything I wanted to be, pursue any career I wanted to do. As I graduated from college, what I wanted more than anything was to be an artist and a writer. Then the messaging shifted from my parents as I moved back home to look for work, “You need to do something that will pay the bills and allow you to do your art.” Disillusionment set in.
I found a job across the country in Silicon Valley working as a technical writer. My father had insisted that I minor in computer science so that I would have options. By the standards of our society, and the way it ‘works’, it was strategic planning. The only problem is, that from the first day I worked that job as a technical writer I was betraying myself. All of my thought and intention was put towards learning this new career so I could do a good job at it and get advancements that would translate into more money and stature. If that same thought and intention was put towards creativity in writing and art, the pursuits that have fed my soul my entire life, who knows where I would be right now?
What happens when we settle for work that does not feed us spiritually is that we betray ourselves; we demonstrate how clearly we do not believe in ourselves, in the path we know inside is ours to walk. And when we betray ourselves this way, it’s hard to love ourselves; so we start looking outside of ourselves to find happiness. We seek friends, we go out partying, we find a lover, we invest in a relationship and a home…we do anything we possibly can to make ourselves feel alive so that we will be rewarded for spending 8+ hours a day investing our mental and emotional resources for a job that does not feed the soul.
My soul has never given up on me. I have always tried to give it voice. From the moment I took the job as a technical writer, I dedicated hours every morning before work to my passion…painting. I negotiated with bosses so I could take mid-day art classes. I became a consultant after the second full-time job so I could bill hours to pay the household, but spend the rest of my time dedicated to my art. As a consultant, I was a shapeshifter, looking the part that the client expected during work visits, and then shifting back into my authentic self for the rest of my day. This dedication to myself means that I have never forgotten who I am inside.
After my children were born, I even tried to make a go of being a selling artist by doing art shows on the weekend. The kids, the house, the car, the ‘things’ all demanded a standard of living that my art income could not meet. And trying to do two careers at once while raising the kids finally took a toll on me from which I could not rebound and I stopped painting.
I’m still fighting for my life, my true self, to live fully in the sunlight of my authentic purpose. I will not give up. As it stands today, I am still suckling at the teat of the corporate world; but I am still relentlessly pursuing a path to finally be free of it. There are moments I want to sell everything and move into an RV, but my children are still in school and I love them too much to abandon them.
I have been doing a lot of recapitulation to regain the energy I lost along the way in my life with all of these self betrayals. I have been giving myself time and space to heal. And finally, my creativity started sparking with writing again….real writing….not that bland technical stuff. Since November I have been writing a memoir and it feels joyful to have the words cascade out of me, to be working with my Muse again.
A miracle happened a month ago: I saw a vision for a new painting. I haven’t had a vision like that in over 5 years. I am so grateful that creativity is returning to me, as I am returning to my Self.