Giving and Taking your own Advice

I received a very lovely and inspiring email from a soon to be college grad. She asked if I had any recommendations or advice on how a Fine Arts graduate could find a job in this challenging economy. I wrote her back, but I’m not sure I told her what she wanted to hear. I could of spurted out all of the usual places to post her portfolio and resume and listed out all the creative job sites, but instead I simply asked her:

“Are you sure a job is really what you want? Or is it opportunities to learn and grow and make some money while learning?”

There’s a BIG difference :-)

It’s a question that I wish someone would of asked me. Thought now that I think about it, I’m not sure I  would’ve been ready to hear it either. Duh, of course I wanted a job. There were student loans to payback and there was no way I was going to move back in with my folks.

I told her how I’ve had a “day job” for the last 13 years and have worked at some pretty big companies that may look great on my resume, but what good is that if deep down I knew they were never really the right fit. In the end, I wish I would not have been swayed so easily. I wish that I would’ve stuck to my guns and followed my heart when I graduated college. I’ve always know that I wanted to freelance and run my own business. But shortly after graduating, the panic set in and I got caught up in the idea that I had to have a “real” job. I bought The Ann Taylor Blue Interview Suit and coordinating high heal penny loafers (Ugh! So not me). At first it was exciting to work in an office, but let me tell you, that wears off really quickly! And then I got stuck in the cycle. I got use to having a steady paycheck and the money’s good. I simply got too use to the lifestyle.

If I was lusting after a pair of shoes or the latest handbag, my internal reasoning went something like this ” I work hard so why shouldn’t I buy _______ (fill in the blank with latest fashion trend or tech gadget) for myself? I deserve it!” And then things really started to get complicated when I bought a house and had a kid. Having that paycheck became more and MORE important, a necessity even, OR at least seemly so.

In those first few years, I never stopped to evaluate what collecting that paycheck was actually costing me? And once I did, it became apparently clear that the personal expense actually outweighed the benefit of a steady income and that false sense of security. It was at the expense of my life, my creativity, and my happiness. Nothing is worth that. And it’s taken me a long time to come to this realization. Now I’m not saying I haven’t learned anything from working in corporate America, I have, but I’m sure I also could have acquired those skills on my own too.

So I left her with these final words of advice:  

“Follow your heart and make your own opportunities, somehow the money will find a way to follow and flow into your life.”

It’s advice I need to remind myself to take too!!

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