Enjoy something pretty I made before I start blabbering.
It’s been a year, but here it is again- the what-the-heck-am-I-doing-with-my-life blues. I think I was wrong last April- it must come twice a year because I went through it in October, too. I love New Year’s as time for reflection and forward motion, but I think I like it as a holiday so much because I don’t actually do any of that. I drink champagne with my friends and celebrate the end of the holiday season! Reflection? psht. I reserve that for the equinoxes. I think I shall use this valuable weeknight to reflect upon the past year and see if my concerns from April 10, 2011 were founded in reason.
The answer is yes.
“I think I must be having the annual What-the-heck-am-I-doing-with-my-life blues. Very recently I quit the last of my day jobs and now support myself on contract work for other metalsmiths. A freelance jeweler? If that title exists then I am one. Needless to say, I am ecstatic beyond words to work out of my own studio on my own hours with no one to answer to as long as I meet my deadlines. It’s like a dream come true! And also, conversely, I am terrified that this is unsustainable and not only will I find myself having to grudgingly pick up part time jobs after the bliss of self-employment, I will find myself in financial peril. And so life goes on for me now as it ever has before. Second guessing at every step!”
Indeed! Present Caitie remembers Past Caitie fondly. So where am I now? I am forward! And also backwards! First of all- “the bliss of self-employment” was a little optimistic. I have been working my own hours, yes, but other people have been paying me and though I love them very much, I still answer to them at the end of the day (or week, depending on my schedule.) So self-employed? Not so much. Blissful? Right. Being a contract worker means that I only get work when someone has work to give me. It doesn’t matter how many hours someone wants to promise when they’re feeling overwhelmed, you only get what there is. There were months when I had enough, months with too much, and the last few have been far, far too little. I love working on my own, but I like grocery shopping, too. I have struggled against my true nature of insecurity and sensitivity over the slow months, thinking that I had done something wrong to make my clients give me less work. It’s not a great way to get a good night’s rest.
On to “sustainability.” My doubts were confirmed 4 months later when the stress of the repetition I was asked to perform for my clients rendered my right hand (known as The Business hand) temporarily useless. I would like to say that thanks to the most awesome acupuncturist ever and a new found enthusiasm for bodily activity I’ve gotten all of that under control.
Then I should mention that I have picked up part-time jobs, ones that take me out of the studio for WHOLE DAYS. I’ve worked in floral design before and I have found my hand skills and general enthusiasm for giving my employers a reason to pay me a valuable asset even in this economy. I miss the studio like I knew I would if I had to earn my living outside it, but I sure do love a steady paycheck. Also, human interaction and physical activity is ok, too. I really like my flower shop job! Why did I think it would be the end of all good things?
So there I am. At this moment I have no contract jobs at all (though there are always a few rumors of more) and I’m doing very close to full time at the flower shop. I have applied to and been rejected from 6 out of 7 opportunities since January, the last one is still out for jurying. I can handle rejection, it stings but I’m keeping my head on about it. I have been given or can think of very logical reasons for jurors not to include me in their shows. That’s fine, but what bothers me is the fact that I paid $250 for all that rejection! Application fees!
One thing I look forward to critiquing in my 2013 spring report includes the collaborative project I’ve started with my friend/studio-mate, Matt Smith. We’re working on a line of jewelry and I am maybe having the most fun EVER keeping the blog and facebook page for our little company, Polyester Pomegranate. I also write the blog and facebook for my flower shop, Blossoms at Biltmore Park. Turns out I’m kind of good at this stuff, having had all of the meaningful conversations in my formative years take place over AOL Instant Messenger. Go figure conversational self absorption would ever become a business skill. I’m also going to SNAG’s metalsmithing conference as a speaker in a month or two- something that gives me both stress nightmares and hope for actually having a career one day.
And so begins another year of self doubt. I’ve had disappointments this year but the biggest ones had little to do with my work, my business, or my various rejections- they’ve been because of my own expectations of myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have thought I could demand my right hand to do something for weeks after it gave me all those signals to take a break. Maybe I shouldn’t have put all my eggs in the freelance metalsmithing basket, cause man that’s a small basket. I swear I am so happy with what I’ve learned since last April. It has been worth every aspirin. Hopefully the Maya Calendar will not explode when Snooki has her baby and I’ll be able to freak out like this again next year.