Don’t get me wrong — Being a self-employed artist is absolutely the most rewarding and fascinating journey I have ever undertaken. It lights my soul on fire and makes me happier than I ever thought possible. I feel empowered and capable. I absolutely love getting up every morning. I adore my job.
That doesn’t make it any less lonely though.
I’m not talking about the hermit-like lifestyle I lead all day, every day, in order to get work done. I’m talking about the absence of true connection with other people who don’t pursue goals in the same manner.
I’ve met many people who work 9-to-5’s and generally assume that I work very little, and that my daily life consists of TV, napping, and leisure. Somehow, amidst this life of endless stasis, my artwork, marketing, and writings burst forth into the universe simply because I think them into existence.
Whenever I achieve something I’ve been working towards, someone inevitably comments about how “lucky” I am. Ha.
Then there’s the suspicion from outsiders. Since obviously I just stay home all day, I obviously have plenty of free time to meet people for lunch, go shopping on a whim, and spend all day on a Thursday at the beach. That’s what other people do on their days off, right? And, as an Artist-Entrepreneur, I have every day off! Yay!! If I refuse activities too often, my friends begin to take it personally, because it’s interpreted that I simply don’t want to spend my endless free-time with them. It’s hard to overcome this misunderstanding.
It’s not you, it’s me. Really.
As those of us who choose this wacky lifestyle know, we don’t start work at 9 and end it at 5. IT NEVER ENDS. Ever. There are no real vacation days. We have to force ourselves into taking any time off, and even then we sneak peeks at our phones to check for new emails.
I crave interaction with those that understand me. I find myself disproportionately excited to meet a new possible friend who lives the same lifestyle as I do. Hooray for the Internet. Outsiders might snicker that we call each other “friends,” but we share a camaraderie that, at the very least, helps with the feeling of perpetual loneliness. (Not to mention the business opportunities we tend to pass around to each other.)
It can’t be forced in real life. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve started conversations about Entrepreneurialism with strangers in order to gauge their interest on the topic. I’ve drunkenly blathered about Moo Cards and Twyla Tharp to someone in a foreign country on the vague possibility of connection.
I know, in the long run, this is a lifestyle we each go alone. Hopefully we have families that love us and support us through it, and understand our ways. And the people we meet online really are a special breed of companions in an otherwise island-like existence. Truly I enjoy reading what each of you are doing with your day-to-day activities, your thoughts on marketing, and your experiences that match mine. It’s nice to know that you’re out there too, obsessing over your own careers as I am mine.
In that way, sincerely, I have an ever-growing, ever strengthening support group of like-minded individuals. It’s lovely to know that we’re in this together.
—Written by Shayla Maddox for Art & Musings