Work to Feed Your Body, Make Art to Feed Your Soul
Our work is tied to our identity like an umbilical cord. When we introduce ourselves in any setting, it’s 90% likely that the second question you get is: ‘What do you do?’. It makes it easy to categorize one another. Yet does your work say who you are?
Your job is a key pillar of what forms your identity. We spend 90,000 hours of our life working! You work as much as you sleep, so are you spending your waking hours on something that is part of you? Something that you like doing? Something worth spending one-third of your life on?
For six years I ran a business, working 70–80 hours a week. The last two years drained me. I nearly lost myself in it, not wanting to give up on the potential success. The success I believed would justify my sacrifices, the success that would define me. Instead, I burned out.
Many panic attacks later, I burned all bridges, got someone else to take over the company (for $1) and slowly started working on rebuilding my emotional bank account. I unplugged and reconnected. I asked myself if what I did really was what I wanted.
I’d already been flirting with a childhood dream of mine to write. It was what kept me going through the hard times. Never did I dare to answer ‘I’m a writer’ whenever someone asked me that unoriginal question. I looked for signs in books, I studied the lives and routines of my favorite authors, I tried ayahuasca, I envisioned the next 10 years of my life. I noticed patterns that unequivocally said to me to pursue this dream.
That moment I decided to find a job to pay for my life and let my creativity feed my soul. That moment I decided to say I was a writer, who freelanced on the side.
Eyebrows were raised.
How to decide to let your work pay for your life and your art for your soul
Perhaps you are happy with your job. I hope you are. I hope it fulfils you and indeed lets your character shine. However, if you want something else, perhaps there are ways to shift the balance in your life and not let one-third of it be dictated by (a) job(s) you feel moderately excited about.