January 30, 2013

Getting to know oneself...

Last year was an intensely interesting and challenging year for me. I was given  the opportunity (unwittingly) whilst working freelance from home to create the time to reflect. So I wrote and wrote a lot, mostly private musings with no intention to share. It was in these moments I though about  my  past, to gain that understanding of where I have come from and where I would like to be heading. I have negotiated many aspects of my life, relationships past and present, decisions made in 'regret' and hoping to not regard it as a 'regretful decision'. I started working towards a more positive approach by seeing the decisions I made not as something to regret but as a 'different decision'. A decision that may or may not have changed the course of my life. I've assessed my attitudes and perspective and regarded all that I have questioned with the power of hindsight.

I've read and re:read self help books, most notably "The Artists Way", "Taking Flight" and "Life is a verb". I've delved into blogs, googling & researching. I have had many discussions, many hours that were paid and the unpaid over a coffee or two with a friend. Living in the moment of conversation that has enabled me to  focus on myself and to really get to know others. One of the hardest aspects of allowing the freedom to invest time in myself, is being seen as 'self-indulgent.' I accept that, however I truly feel that in having this time during the course of  2012 has enabled me a greater understanding of who I am and what I am capable of.

Part of this analysis was also based around my negatives ideals of  'Who I was?' I have been my own worst critic for years in all aspects of my life. I needed to stop and reflect to work out why my anxiety was hitting an all time high, I needed to truly understand what I could fit into my day. What and who I would truly like to commit my time and energies into so that I could feel like I'm on the right path in my life, as it hasn't felt right for sometime.

This feeling is not related to my family in any way, shape or form, it is purely in the most narcissistic form, about me. I am and have always been a creative person, priding myself on my artistic ability, deciding at a very young I was going to study either 'art' or 'design' and I was always very focused on my two loves with my focus eventually selecting 'design'. I ended up studying a Bachelor of Design and from that point, even though my interest in my field has never wained, it certainly has given my confidence at times a real kick. However I have always persevered as there's nothing more rewarding then to follow your passion. Right?

However in my case as rewarding as seeing a project through from design inception to completion, the work over the last couple of years hasn't been as rewarding as it should have been. I have really struggled to break into my field and at one stage abandoned all thoughts of actually working as a designer. After 7 years having a break from design I found a company who were happy to take me on in 2001. Yet it was never an easy path and it didn't always feel right regardless of how I wanted to see the situation. I felt by doing freelance work would enable me to find my 'voice' and my own sense of style and and would take my work to the next level. It's never happened, it really has been a roller coaster ride, one that's never reached the 'high's I was hoping for and the recognition I desired. Possibly I felt like I was mediocre and that there are too many people to compete with.

With having my 'own business' I wrote about this earlier in 2012 also gave me to the chance to dictate my hours and plan around family. This occurred to a point but still I had to work around clients, requesting meetings to comply with their schedules. For example meetings arranged on a Friday evening and Saturday midday, only to find that  particular client felt my time wasn't worth paying for in the end. It's been situations like this that do not warrant the stress of not being paid, not being valued and not being rewarded for one's time. It hasn't diminished my love of design or appreciation of the process, however it has diminished my want to continue working as a freelancer where there are so many variables and not enough consistency to make it worthwhile.

So after much 'Soul searching' I have decided to not continue in my field in a creative capacity for the moment, my priorities have changed. I have to help support my young and growing family. I require work that doesn't consume me to the point of feeling so absorbed that I cannot take in the needs of my children or partner. I cannot work as a freelance Interior Designer with the inconsistency of payments which doesn't allow me to budget and plan for my future and constantly having to make excuses for the next payment on the next bill. Quite frankly something had to give. Working longer and more stressful hours to cultivate clients is not the answer. Not with three young children.

So I have made the decision to take a different direction and am currently looking for work not in my field but within an area that I can competently use my skills. At the end of day to have the consistency of hours, pay and not having to take the work home with me is more appealing. I have three clients with whom I can still work with after hours until their renovations are completed, then I am going to take a much needed break from design.

The upside of this momentous decision for me is that in a way it will fuel my creativity and I have many plans to redirect my energies. I plan to learn new skills not at least to learn to quilt.  I'm also looking at doing an upholstery course with friends and my other interest and love, screen printing. I also have other creative interests I'd like to pursue but feel I have enough to keep me going of this year.

So in allowing time to really know oneself, I have had to been thoroughly honest. However I am looking forward to a new chapter in life. I feel a small sense of mourning but I also know I haven't given up on my interest or aspirations with design and creativity. I am for the moment choosing a new path and for the first time I feel a wave of excitement at the possibilities.

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