You know what’s the worst?
A box of those damn chocolates. Forrest has ruined a good box of See’s Nuts and Chews for me for life. (Eff you Gump). Because even though you may never know what you’re gonna get? It’s still damn chocolate, you guys. Chocolate.
But for Creative Entrepreneurs?
Our only candy option is more like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans…on crack. Popping one of those bad boys could rev our engines or send us on a manic spiral southbound (seriously…that one you’re holding could be ear wax).
And you want to know the funny part? We kind of love it. Because no matter how you look at it, deciding to be a creative means deciding to live in constant uncertainty. Constant back and forth. Constant nirvana and constant screw-it-all. (Is this bean watermelon or slime?)
And deciding to be a creative entrepreneur means we have to up the ante. Because you aren’t just risking everything financially, you’re risking your general wellbeing. Maybe even your dog’s wellbeing. And also, now you are taking yourself seriously, putting yourself out there, taking the big risks. And it could be a good day or a bad day. Or more likely, both at the same time, because—I’m not sure if you know this—but there are a full twenty-four hours in a day and in the life of a creative entrepreneur, anything could happen…
Someone could call us and tell us they want us to star in their film, write their story, use our talents. They want our thing. The thing that makes us…well, us. In the following hour you could throw a sparkle TOMS at the window—terrifying the cat—because that damn plot point. Just. Won’t. Work. Itself. Out. The next day we struggle with our supplemental income, the job that pays our bills (For now). Because it simultaneously makes us feel safe, and want to throw up on people. The day after that our headshots arrive and we are both elated by one picture but depressed by another when we see that the extra (ahem, three) martini is now showing itself in the form of under arm fat. One day we are in the proverbial zone. Focused and clear and spewing droplets of brightly colored unicorn glitter (read: creativity gold). The next you’re banging your head against the wall and asking yourself, why oh why didn’t you pursue a career with “financial” in the title(?!).
Joke’s on us I guess because we actually like it. God we’re sick.
We actually like the ups and downs. The serene and the stress. The unknown and the delicious certainty.
In the last six years as a creative entrepreneur, I have had my fair share of those damn any flavor beans. Things happened that I never expected. Things I’ve created and loved that no one loved back. Things that I will always remember. Things like cowering as I asked for money. Things like getting deported (true story). Things like being told I need to stop pretending at the one that I thought I was actually getting right. Things like being in debt. Things like hating my job and then loving it again. Things like doubting myself and then being my biggest fan.
And that’s the thing. I know it’s sick. I know my doctor bristles every time we talk about “stress levels.” But I also know I love it. Xanax aside, this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’m supposed to be writing this and admitting to the ups and downs, and you’re supposed to be reading it
Because you are one of us.
You like getting up in the morning and getting dirt under your fingernails before breakfast (but never before coffee; coffee is ALWAYS first). You like the elation of starting a new project. You like the optimism and the utter terror of letting someone see the first draft, or the first cut, or the first version.
You like the risks and the bipolar behavior because the other option? The one with the “financial” in the title? Just can’t be an option.
On any given day, it will always be a toss up if this will be the best day of your life…or possibly the worst. It’s the best day because you’re creating something that no one else could create. And it’s the worst day because you’re creating something that no one else could create.
You’re not just battling the world and that bag of Bertie Bott’s on your lap. You’re battling yourself. You simultaneously tell yourself how happy you are, and remind yourself that there’s no guarantee you’ll actually win. You have to be hard to be soft. And then be soft in order to be hard. You’re built of steel, but can blow away like an empty plastic bag (American Beauty style).
And the most important risk to tackle? Is learning about yourself. Because you can’t do this job without knowing every single cell in your body. And that cell’s worries, and fears, and opinions. You can’t do this job without taking the risk that one day you’ll ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing?” Sometimes you’ll have to talk yourself down. Or as we know all too well: up. And this is the black and white, the left and the right, the good and the bad that we’ll pillow fight wrestle with everyday.
And boy does it taste sweet.
That’s probably why we forgo Forrest and his damn chocolates, heading straight for those messed up jelly beans. Because the real risk here isn’t committing to being a creative entrepreneur. The real risk is deciding not to.
I guess the first rule of the job isn’t to pick a side, one extreme or another. But learn to sit in the middle. The mucky, grey middle.
And the middle? Is where all the good candy is.