I Quit My Job: Now What?

Yep, I’m going to be a professional artist.

I quit my job. I quit my stable, 8 to 5 office setting job to be an artist. Is this real life?

Time to panic. Just kidding—kind of.

My first question to myself when making this decision was “What the heck is wrong with you?! Get it together, Kelly!” Then there was this little voice yelling somewhat sarcastically in the back of my mind: “YOLO!”

That voice gets me into trouble sometimes.

In Personality Psychology, I am what is referred to as a “Job Hopper”. I’ve held a total of 13 jobs since I was 15, (and some odd jobs in between). I’ve been a hotel housekeeper, waitress, baker, dental ceramicist, dog walker, cashier, optician, and many more. I’m a model employee when hired, but boredom or anxiety take over fairly quickly and I start plotting my exit. A lot of these jobs were in a retail or food/hospitality setting. Minimum wage, no benefits, and high turnover. I attributed my boredom to a general lack of stimulation–until my last job on an administrative/finance team in the IT industry.

This setting was fast-paced, intellectually stimulating, and had a lot of freedom to learn and grow. The job held my attention for much longer than usual. I loved it. I thought “I’ve finally made it. I am an adult!”

Then I hit a wall. My familiar claustrophobia crept in. At first, it is subtle. A general discomfort and propensity to daydream. Then, the irritability began. Tasks I was once indifferent toward became tiresome. Minor inconveniences became a source of anger. Inefficiencies I once desired to correct were unbearable. “Not again,” I thought, but I didn’t give in at first. I fought the urge to move on. The job was great. The people were great. Stable income was a plus. I should like it here, right?

And then I reached ‘Level: F*&% it.’ It’s an awesome level.

It’s filled with unexpected panic attacks at my desk. Restless legs that want to carry me to a dark corner to hibernate. Inability to recharge my internal battery. Displeasure began to seep into my home life.

Discontentment. Hello, my old friend.

In these situations, it’s like the seasons in my mind shift and I can either fight the inevitable change until I become sick with fatigue—or I can go with the flow. It’s a little difficult to prevent a season from changing. No matter how hard I might try.

So, I quit.

Surprisingly, I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback with this transition. Many people are supportive of the creative lifestyle. Those who know your passions want to see you follow your dreams. There will also be quite a few people who criticize the choice. It’s only natural. Why on earth would I give up stability to do art?

My art teacher in high school once gave the advanced classes an exercise in making a living as a professional artist. He had us budget the cost of materials and how much we’d have to charge for each painting/drawing/creative product to make a profit. I remember the lesson I came away with was “Wow, being an artist would suck.” And that was my mindset for years. People would ask me if I was going to pursue art as a career and all I could say was “No, I don’t want to be poor.”

I refused to call myself an artist for the longest time. Even in the context of a hobby, I renounced the artistic title. It appeared to bring with it an intense sort of scrutiny from the outside world. If you say you’re an artist, people want to see what you’ve got. “Prove it,” they say.

I didn’t want to prove anything to anyone.

Obviously, I have tried to adjust to a more structured environment, but my artist’s heart has other plans for me. Neglecting my creative energy is a cruel sort of malnourishment. I can no longer pretend or wish I am not an artist.

Side note: For those of you who are creative dreamers and you find contentment in traditional careers—I’ve got a lot of admiration for you.

Being an artist means a variety of things. Sometimes, it’s not just about creating works of art. It’s about the way you see the world. The way you take in energy and filter it in your mind. Artists process input and stimuli in a way that creates an end product. Their brains are little creative factories. Random pieces go in, and weird, inspiring, mundane, beautiful, horrific, eloquent, and/or confusing things come out; assembled and packaged in a new way. With that being said, we all have the ability to be an artist.

Not all of it is gold. Not all of it should be shared with the world. I’ve got a lot of duds. They are literally stored in a folder on my laptop called “Duds.” Art, writing, poems, songs, recipes, random creations—they’ll never see the light of day. The important thing is that I keep creating. If I don’t, I develop creative constipation. For those of you who are highly sensitive, I’m sure you know the feeling well. It’s like expecting an extrovert to remain silent in a room full of people. You might see their eyelid twitching as they try to control the urge to socialize. Painful to watch. Painful to endure.

In conclusion, I’m an artist. I quit my day job. Now I’m going to figure out how to function and pay my bills before my savings runs dry. Ready and go!

I will be posting more about my journey as the months go by. Whether anyone reads this blog or not.

You’re welcome, internet.


Further Reading: