The Life and Death of a Career in Calligraphy
How do you let go of a dream? Of a goal? Of a mere idea?
What if you've started on the path toward that dream?
You know that you're not giving up or quitting because you've failed or screwed up. You're leaving it because things have changed. Your circumstances are different, and it is now impossible. It is not your fault. It is now out of your hands.
How do you convince yourself of that? How do you tell yourself that you weren't a fool to try in the first place? How do you forgive yourself and move forward?
I certainly don't know.
No matter how you slice it, I love words. That means both crafting their ideas and meanings but also their lovely appearances.
As such, it's not a surprise that I majored in Writing in college. I wanted so badly to pursue a career in it, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it was not the right path for me.
After a lot of deviations, each unrelated to the last -- wedding photography, electrical engineering, adult education -- I continued to feel lost. I have a mind that wants, no, craves, no, needs to be busy. It eats me from the inside out to the point of depression if I don't occupy it.
The start of married life has been an adjustment, as it should be. My life is no longer mine, but now also that of my husband. He is my love, and I call him such.
But he is not my brain.
I remain an individual with thoughts and feelings still my own, and I love so much that he wants to know them. I've never felt like mine mattered much to anyone, but he loves me and shares everything that he can with me and asks that I do the same. It's really not much, and I do my best to return it, but I admit: I am not a forthcoming person. Thankfully, he is so understanding and knows how to coax what's inside of me out.
Thus, when I shared my desire to work, to help with our expenses, to feel useful again, after leaving my job leading up to the wedding, he was happy and supportive. He had been saying for some time that I should do something with calligraphy, especially after using it for some details in our wedding.
I'd been hesitant for months. Photography was wonderful, but I have such dismal esteem in myself and thus my work that I didn't just lack the drive to promote it but literally was unable. How can you ask someone to hire you if you yourself don't even feel like you can stand behind your work? So that had ended swiftly. And I feared the same would happen with calligraphy.
But my husband is so encouraging and gave me the push I needed to believe more in myself and what I can do with my own hands and abilities. So I made the jump.
I started a website. I designed and ordered business cards. I invested in my calligraphy education. And I began to seriously apply myself to practicing calligraphy regularly. When I made the leap and committed to promoting myself on social media, though, the doubt crept back in. I had no clients. I had no work. I had just me and my subpar abilities to scribble and doodle. Not giving in to that niggling voice in the back of my mind required a fight that I could no longer win.
Everything came to a screeching halt.
I told myself it was just a break. Social media was draining me so I just needed to take some time away from it. But it quickly became time away from my desk and my tools. I felt lost and useless.
Then, my husband's company was in need of a secretary and helper so I stepped up to the plate. I could do what I wanted: I could work and help provide financially. I could be useful.
And I soon became swamped with work, both paper and physical. I answered phone calls. I digitized invoices. I created new organizational systems. I took over bill pay. I gave myself more and more. As an easily stressed person, I struggled and still do. "But I'd had nothing better to do anyway," I tell myself, as the last of my free time disappears along with any possibility of a career in calligraphy.
Is anything really impossible? Or do we simply give up? Are we all really just a bunch of quitters?
Am I just a quitter?