As 2017 is coming swiftly to a close, I’m looking back on my first year in business as a West Coast abstract artist, and wondering how to alleviate all the pressure I put on myself.
What a year it has been! I quit my day job back in January and since, I’ve been working my butt off in an attempt to gain some momentum within my business…and I’ve had tremendous results. By the time you’re reading this, I will have had 5 art shows in two different cities, been in numerous publications both local, regional and one in Canada, and I’ve started selling my art. Hooray!!!!
It helps for me to list out my accomplishments because for the most part, I live day-to-day in a stressed state wondering what else I could be doing and if I’m doing enough. I don’t want to give y’all the impression that I’m a nervous wreck or anything, but dang, being a small business owner is exhilarating at times, exasperating at others and no matter which one it is, I live with butterflies in my stomach and the constant feeling that something amazing is about to happen, or about to be overlooked.
I wake up and exercise. I meditate. I eat well and get good sleep. I make good use of my time when I’m working and maintain a social and family life outside of work. I’ve started seeing my therapist again. And yet, I’m still a ball of nerves. I keep waiting for the day when it stops…but will it ever? Is this what being an entrepreneur is? Or is this just how I am? Should I just expect to break out in illness every few weeks and be tired ALL THE TIME? I really hope not.
I understand that the person putting the pressure on me, is me. I am aware that this is something that I do in all facets of my life, and that it is not a new struggle. But can someone, anyone, please tell me what I can do to make it stop? I feel like I do all of the right things and yet, still I struggle with the nagging voice of doubt telling me that it’s not enough. That it is NEVER enough. I absolutely know it IS enough yet I still feel stress.
How does one care less?
I have written blog posts on how I deal with anxiety, depression, everyday hamster-wheel brain and yes, I use the tools that I write about to keep my head above water. But at the end of the day, I feel like I’m JUST above water with moments of fatigue that put me under. I’m just really tired of caring So. Damn. Much.
The fact that I care shows in my art work, business growth and organization. I’ve had some pretty amazing results this year. I don’t want to change that, but something has to give. I don’t even feel like I’m over-working. I work 8:00am-5:00pm with a one hour lunch break and maybe even a break for a quick bike ride. I am of the impression that it isn’t the work load itself that is killing me. It’s the pressure that I’m putting on myself.
I have no top 5 list of ways to remedy this. I have been trying my whole life to be ok with myself and the work I do. The fact that I’m now doing the work that I truly feel like I should be doing and STILL feel this way shows me that it really doesn’t matter what I do. I’m always going to feel this weight until I drop to the floor, unable to move or I have a perspective shift. I would, of course, prefer the perspective shift.
Unfortunately, that is something that seems to have to come on its own. It cannot be forced or scheduled. If it could, then it would have been done already as I am very efficient. The bottom line is that my art business means a lot to me and I don’t see how to worry less about something that I care so deeply about.
An old surfer-dude once told me that he doesn’t stress. “Stress is optional”, he said. How do I choose not to feel the way I feel? When he said that, it made me think that something might be wrong with me that I put so much pressure on myself and no matter how much progress I make, it just continues to build. So, great. Now I feel stressed AND like something’s wrong with me.
Is this the way our culture is now? Do we all feel like we can never do enough to live the life we want to live? Why can’t I be content now? I suppose I go through times when I am. I just happen to be in a period of transition and so it’s hard to even point out the harmonious times. I know they’re not unicorns. They do exist.
Funny thing is that when I paint, I feel this peaceful. It's the rest of the time I'm a stress mess.
My brain has been telling me these things my whole life. How do I change 41 years of thought patterns? I know that it’s possible. It has to be. I don’t have the answer though. I don’t know what else I should be doing aside from maybe finding a good behavioral therapist.
All I can do is to keep moving on and have faith in the path before me. I do believe that I have found the path that I’m meant to be walking. I suppose I just need to engage the auto pilot and hope that she knows what the hell she’s doing.
Logically, I know I’m an able person and that I’m doing well in my life. I just need to worry less about the outcomes. They will be what they are and all I can do is my best right now. I just wish that my brain would believe that my best is good enough.
There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and although I feel like I have wasted a lot of time in my life doing silly things, looking back in a critical way is not going to serve me right now. Plus, that’s a load of crap. Everything I’ve spent time on in the past is something that is serving me in my art business now. I need to be my own best friend and lift myself up instead of tearing myself down.
So, here’s to the end to 2017 and the beginning of a new year. I really hope that I can turn off the pressure cooker and just be. Because in the end, it is what it is. I try my best. I care a lot. And really, that’s all I can do.
Happy Holidays everyone. May the New Year bring us all a fuck-ton of peace.