|Photo by me|
Have you ever taken a risk on yourself? Pushed off the branch and flew into uncharted territory with nothing but inspiration fueling you?
This topic sang to me when I read about the Courage to Fly Blog Hop because it summed up pretty much my career, my life, up to now.
It started back in high school. I didn’t have the nerve to apply as an art major, much less apply to a specialized art college. I didn’t think my work in high school was good enough, and people around me, while they loved me, didn’t understand how badly I needed to hear “go for it”. I didn’t have enough faith in myself to do it anyway; I needed a push, a little support. They convinced me to be a film major instead, and I convinced myself they were right. So, I applied as a film major, was accepted as a film major, and started as a film major.
Halfway through my first semester, I was miserable.
I could barely stand to be on campus, and went home every weekend. I hated my film classes, I didn’t care about lighting or editing or post production or scripts or cameras. If anything, having to analyze a movie to death killed any enjoyment for me. I found myself critiquing every movie I saw, whether I wanted to or not, and I hated that I couldn’t turn off that part of my brain to just, for the love of everything holy, watch a single freaking movie.
So, I switched majors from film to art. Without ever having taken a single college-level art class, without knowing if I could do it, I switched. And I didn’t tell anyone for months because I didn’t want to hear how wrong they thought I was. Deep down, whether I could admit it to anyone or not, I knew this was what I needed to do for me.
And I was happier than ever.
Skip ahead several years. I had graduated college, and was firmly installed in a corporate office. It wasn’t a bad job, but it definitely wasn’t for me. The more I worked, the more I wondered if this cubicle was all I could expect out of life from now on. My creative spark dimmed and died, and I was feeling stifled and smothered. I couldn’t breathe, and every day that I went to work and stared at my gray fabric-covered walls, my standard-issue desk, and the multi-line phone, it got worse.
When I tried to explain how miserable I was, I had people tell me to be grateful I had a job. Then the guilt started; I did have a good job, and not everyone else could say that. But I was restless, too. This good job that made me miserable wasn’t enough, and I knew it.
Then one day, I had the worst job review ever. The supervisor was nasty and hateful, and instead of approaching me as an adult with things I needed to work on, she attacked me personally. I was furious that she crossed the line, till I realized… she’s doing me a favor, whether she knew it or not. I put in my two weeks notice the next day, and I felt the weight lift off of me.
I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have another job lined up. I just knew I needed out. And I got out before it was too late and I stopped caring about anything.
Third time’s a charm
I spent the next several months healing a bit. I was beat up emotionally, and questioning everything. I traveled, worked part-time, saw my niece being born, spent time with her and my sister right after, took care of myself.
Then, in May of 2007, I was on a family vacation to Hawaii and I tripped walking into a bead store. I’ve told that story before, but that was the start of a new chapter for me. It was there that I rediscovered my love of making art, and beads were the vehicle to get me there. I felt inspired again, and started Catie’s Blue a few days after I returned home. People (and loved ones) thought I was crazy, but something inside of me was on fire. I couldn’t ignore it, and I didn’t want to. I hadn’t felt that alive in months.
This time, I was going to do things my way. I had to. It was my life, and I wasn’t living it at all.
My entire artistic journey has been a lesson in learning to trust myself in order to fly.
When I started my business, lots of people were quick to point out all of the things I didn’t know (like I wasn’t aware of those things – I am my worst critic). But what they didn’t know was that I knew that creating was what I was meant to do. It took a while, but I realized that if I just listened to myself, I could be happy. The one person who knew what I wanted and what I needed the best was me.
In some ways, starting my own business was exactly what I had been preparing myself for. I learned the techniques I needed in college, and I opened the door to a new life when I quit my office job. Starting a business wasn’t a risk anymore; I had already taken the risks. Now, it was simply a choice to walk through the door I had opened or stay as I was.
I’m not afraid of risks and I’m not afraid of failing. I’ve gone out on a limb before, and I’ll probably be there again. The trick for me is not to go out on a limb when my back is against a wall, but to listen to myself to start with. It’s never quite as scary or desperate to be out on a limb when it’s my choice. That’s what my goal is now; listening, acknowledging, accepting.
And hey, it only took me three tries to get it right. If I can do it and learn this, I’m pretty convinced anyone can.
How about you? Ever been on the limb before?