On focus

After I’d turned down yet another social invitation (probably the third in less than two weeks), I told a friend, “I hope my friends don’t think I’ve become antisocial. I’ve just become more focused.”

And it’s true. I am now focused in a way that I haven’t ever been in my adult life.

I want to be a full-time artist. When I started my incredibly uncreative (day) job, I made a commitment not to put my art on hold. I knew that I didn’t want to work for other people for the rest of my life. And I knew that that change was a few years away. But, in the meantime, I had to keep moving forward. I couldn’t put my dream on hold just because I had to have a (day) job.

What that has meant is that so many of my daily decisions are made based on that goal. It means that I don’t go out for evening drinks with my friends as often as I once did. It means that my weekends are largely spent working on my art. It also means that I do my (day) job really well, but that I don’t put in the extra hours or do the kind of work socializing that I’d do if I were seeking a promotion (though a friend insists that the best way to get a promotion is to not want one). It means that I spend my money carefully, only buying things that nurture me and my art, and putting the rest into savings so that I’ll have a cushion when it’s time to make a leap into working artisthood.

Of course, this has also meant that I have to fight my natural inclinations – social me wants to have cocktails with my friends, while overachieving me wants promotions, and clothes-loving me wants some new skirts for spring. How often do we reward ourselves for unhappiness by doing things that lead us even further away from contentment? How often do we consume when we really want to create? It would be easy to mellow out with a few drinks after a long day at work. Or to seek a promotion at work because I want some recognition of the time and effort I put into it. Or to buy some new skirts (and shoes, too) to reward myself for completing a huge project. But all of those would take away too much of my precious time and money.

So instead of consuming, I create. I print and I sew and go to the big studio or work at home in my little studio. I apply for shows. I write blog posts. I cook my own meals instead of going out to eat at least once a day. I don’t watch much TV. I (gasp!) wear the same clothes over and over again.

And here’s how I know I’m doing the right thing: when I spent money setting up my studio and buying labels, I didn’t have buyer’s remorse. I felt like I’d made an investment. At the end of an evening or weekend spent in the company of ink and screens and paper and fabric, I feel that I’m on the right path. I don’t feel lonely or unrecognized or deprived. I feel content.

I am focusing on creating my life, and that is exactly what I need to be doing to be right now.

15 thoughts on “On focus”

  1. This is really a brilliant post. I’ve been going through a lot of this lately myself, where all of my focus, both time and money-wise, are spent on starting up my business. It just hit me recently how little I’ve purchased (as a consumer) over the last year, but I really think I’m happier than I’ve ever been!

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