When I stood in line for The Smiler’s last ride of the 2019 season, I’d just been told the effort and years that go into eventually becoming a ride operator on that ride. Up until this point, I’d been dreaming of a job at Alton Towers as a ride operator, but discovering that I’d have to work my way up the categories of rides before eventually getting to The Smiler made me realise that this isn’t a job, it’s a career choice. While I’d love the experience of it, I thought that it would only be until my art took off, much like my job now. Thus, I decided that night to turn away from it, knowing inside that art was where my heart wanted to go.
I’ve got big plans for 2020. To be honest, I had big plans for 2019 until I realised that there’s stuff I need to learn first before I can execute them. Therefore, my plans for 2020 are all about learning my art forms – sketching, painting, writing, singing and dancing – and putting something out there for the world to see. So tonight, I looked up just how you actually release a song, and then thought about my ambitions to get an entire EP out, and then I realised:
“What if this continues? What if I then have to work on more music to keep earning a living? What if this becomes my career?”
And now I’m back to standing in The Smiler’s queue line.
I thought I’d decided against ride operating because it wasn’t the career I ultimately wanted. However, the career that I do want – art – is making me hesitate too. I find myself at this point wondering what it is I don’t want: the job itself, or the commitment involved in making it my career?
I’ve always been a person to bounce around, a “butterfly mind” as one of my lecturers put it. Is it that I’m comfortable having plans and ambitions and dipping my toe but never really going anywhere, as I have for most of my life? Am I still yet to discover what it is I truly want? Am I a person who will do one thing for a bit, then switch to another later on, only to pursue an entirely different route again? Does the thought of committing myself to one path scare me, as though it would trap me? Am I scared of choosing the wrong thing? As much as I dream of success, am I happy with my life as a relative unknown?
It’s hard to know your feelings for something when you’ve never tried it. It appears to me that I’ve never actually tried committing myself to one thing, or at least one sector, and the thought terrifies me! Ultimately, it’s based on guesswork, but these are the things I’ve noticed based on experience:
- I’m scared of getting old having achieved nothing.
- I don’t want to go down in history as the girl who had all these ideas but never did anything with them.
- I felt really touched and humbled when someone sent me their drawings of me, as a demonstration of how much I’d inspired them.
- I like people saying to me how much of an inspiration I am to them, and how they are effecting change in their own lives as a result of the example I give.
- I want, more than anything, to have my voice heard by the masses, or at least a good group of them, so as to have a positive impact on the world.
These five things tell me that I should pursue art as a career, even though the thought of what’s involved makes me stumble backwards. I’ve heard an expression that goes something along the lines of “You have to be brave enough to chase your dreams” and I realise now what that means: you have to have the guts to commit your entire being into what you want, and to face everything that commitment involves. It’s funny how the things we want can also be the things we’re scared of, but every follower, every comment, every inspirational message I get on Instagram tells me that this is what I want in my heart. I want to be that voice of inspiration, and in my low moments I remind myself that people consider me an inspiration, but you can only inspire as long as you do something. It’s alright talking a lot, but you’ve got to practice what you preach. I’m already achieving part of my life’s ambition: to make people happy and effect positive change in their lives, but now it’s time to work on making the last part true: through art.
Art speaks in a way that no other medium can. Where the realities of science are too much to bear, the solace of art will always be there to comfort you. People find the hope that things will get better through music; they find the motivation to make the world better through photography; they find their self-confidence through dance and drama; they find their courage to defy negativity through beautiful drawings and paintings. Art is not about fact, it is about feel and connection. From someone who spent twenty-one years of her life actively pursuing science before going “Oh shit, never mind”, I can tell you that art is more about people than anything else. It’s so beautifully human: we are made to be creative. It is an expression of the deepest corners of your soul, a flight of freedom from the boring and the mundane. I chase happiness and art for the same reasons: they make my soul fly. But it’s always been a flight of fancy until now.
The realities of art as a career are just like any other job. They require work, dedication and passion. I have to ask myself if I am prepared for that and, to be honest, the answer doesn’t really matter:
When it feels scary to jump, that’s exactly when you jump as ultimately, if it’s still in your mind, it’s worth taking the risk.