I was a creative child and to a certain extent a creative teenager. But I didn’t spend much time at all being creative in my early twenties, and it’s only been in recent years that I started to really embrace my creative side.
As a rule, I generally don’t like to dwell on the past or think about regrets. Saying that, I didn’t pursue art at high school where I maybe should have done because I felt that there were other more academic subjects that might be a bit more useful in the long run.
The thing is, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just felt that if I was going to study a subject, it ought to be one that would potentially open up more options in the long run. So when the time came to choose my GCSE subjects, art was dropped.
My intentions were good, but I really had no idea. I went with what I felt I should be doing, and didn’t go with what I loved doing. At the time when I was choosing the subjects that would shape my later school years, there were less of the creative career paths that are now available thanks to the internet.
Being an artist or other creative then was a lot less accessible than it is now. There are now many more options to take control of your own career and use social media to promote yourself. You don’t have to rely on galleries or other people to promote your career. You have the option to promote yourself through Instagram and sell your work through Etsy, for example.
(Let me just be clear at this point and state that I’m not saying it’s easy or doesn’t take a lot of work. I’m just pointing out the fact that there are more options available.)
So I took the more academic route, and gradually found less and less time to be creative. I also started to spend my leisure time differently. When I went to university I was generally at lectures, studying, out with my friends, or sleeping! Creativity took a real back seat, but this wasn’t a choice I made consciously.
When I started to spend time being creative again in my mid-twenties, I was doing a job that I absolutely hated, and it was making me really miserable. (My Nan told me not to use the word “hate” to describe how you feel about something as it’s such a strong word… In this case, however, I think she’d let it slide!) Being creative was a way to relax and de-stress, not to mention an enjoyable way to spend spare time.
I was working in the call centre of a bank. While customer service was one of the main aspects of the job, selling was also important. The bank didn’t frame it quite like that, of course. It was described more as seeing how the customer could benefit from one of the bank’s products and then suggesting it to them.
I was great at the customer service but not at the sales part. I was constantly told that I needed to sell more. While there’s no particular secret to selling, and it’s basically a case of finding the person who needs the product or service that you’re offering, it just wasn’t an area in which I excelled. Passion for the product or service you’re selling helps, and that was something I definitely didn’t have.
I found my job stressful and it made me miserable, to the point where I used to dread going to bed each night and count the minutes until I could go home at the end of the day. My boyfriend was great and really tried to cheer me up. But I needed an outlet. I needed a way to escape and take my mind off things. And that was when I started to spend time being creative again.
When you’re an inherently creative person, you actually need to spend time being creative. If you’re anything like me, you instantly feel more relaxed, settled, happier, less stressed, and just generally fulfilled. Creative time for me is now non-negotiable, in the same way that, as an introvert, I need to spend time alone if I’ve been surrounded by people for too long.
My life isn’t perfect, but I’m happier than ever. I feel like this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m being creative on a regular basis. The kind of creative stuff that I do varies widely. It depends on my mood and the way I’m feeling, and I tend to go through cycles. I might do a lot of crafting one month but spend more time painting with acrylics the next. Then I might gravitate more towards watercolour pencils.
As far as I’m concerned, what I’m creating and how I’m creating it are much less important than the fact that I’m creating — full-stop.