Busy Bee turned Creative Butterfly

I have a lot of time right now. A lot of time to be just with myself and ponder things. I have found myself actually BORED. I literally can't remember the last time I felt bored. 

It has bugged me lately (pre-move of course) when someone starts their conversation by saying "I know you're busy but..." 

I am not busy. I actually haven't really been busy for a while (save for about a week before we left Colorado. The Moving "Busys".) I have been making a concerted effort to stop the "busys". 

Those of you who really know me have likely heard of my great relationship with therapy in the last 8 months. After getting laid off last year, I thought "Well, I have so much time to do All the Things now!" So I signed on to do costumes for a company in New York, as well as committed myself to several freelance costume jobs, plus on top of that I agreed to do a juried runway show. I also was asked if I could increase my entries to said runway show from 1 to 3, since they were looking for an opening set of looks. "Of course!" I said, like someone who apparently doesn't know how to judge the time it takes to do things. I thought not having a day job would open me up to endless possibilities.

After I came back from NY the first time from measuring actors and sitting in on rehearsals, before I got super stressed, I realized I might need help delegating my time. Why did I always do this? It was all fine and good until something went wrong, and then there was absolutely no wiggle time to fix anything. I sensed I was following the same pattern, yet again. Not only that, there was no time for me to just BE, and not DO.

I have discovered about myself that if I am not happy with something in my life, I try to fill it to the brim with things that I love in order to counter balance. But instead of tipping the scales, sometimes everything just plain falls over. 

I finally took responsibility for this busy-ness complex and looked for a new therapist.  I have had several other great therapists in the past, but I've always had to find new ones because of circumstances that were out of my control, like moving. The last one I had was referred to me through a network by a therapist friend, but she discontinued her practice several years ago to pursue another career. 

Finding someone new can be mentally daunting. You want to find the right "fit" between patient and therapist, otherwise it can be not nearly as helpful. Just picking up the phone can sometimes take all the courage you have for the week. I knew that a move to NYC was likely in my future, and I also knew that I could potentially have an anxiety crapstorm if I didn't find a qualified professional to help me prepare and get through it.

Lucky for me, the universe was on my side and I found a wonderful fit through a mere google search! My friend who referred me to the last person even knew this new person and was so happy I found her. It seems so easy looking back now, but it took me a full 2 years to even try to find someone. It's hard.

One of the first things New Awesome Therapist had me do was to physically calendar out all the things I had planned for the spring. At that time, I was considering doing voice acting for an ASL play locally that had a 6 week run. I also was working on my portfolio for my fashion school application, plus about 7 other gigs I was asked to do or auditioning for. Plus many, many sewing commissions. TECHNICALLY YES, I could do all these things, but seeing it visually made me realize my life was following down the same path to destruction. Always doing things, never quite having enough time to put the quality effort into any of those things. Never allowing for mistakes or do-overs. 

Even when I had a day job, ESPECIALLY when I had one, I would overschedule myself all the time. This mostly happened when I was not enjoying the job anymore. I would just fill in all my time with things I knew I loved, hoping that somehow that would make up for it. Again, trying to tip the scale and instead having it fall over sideways.

I had to discover not only how to say "no" but when to say it. Which projects are worth doing? If I can do something, I usually say Sure! I have been doing that all my life. I always said "I can do graphic design, so I guess I will." I never stopped to check in with myself to see if I really wanted to do it anymore. This year I made a pact with myself to stop taking on things that I felt neutral about, and only take on projects that made my heart skip a beat, things that ignited my passion for creativity or that really MEAN something to me. 

And with that, gone were graphic design projects and freelance. Gone were clothing alterations. Gone were theater costuming gigs. Gone was the 8-5 corporate graphic design job. I really focused on things that are important to me, like fashion/costume design commissions, singing, dancing, and honestly, just chilling out.

I had gotten myself to the dreaded "Office Space" mantra of just wanting to do nothing for a while. I even doubted whether I really was ready for a new career - what if I started fashion design and felt the same old mental block? My husband assured me that if that happened it would still be okay. And he's right, you know. Putting myself out in the universe and seeing what sticks works best if you continue to do so when something doesn't stick.

But the funny thing is this: I don't think I've ever been as passionate about anything as I am about fashion design. I don't regret my path at all; I learned a lot as a graphic artist, and even more about business and marketing in general. I know what I need a business to look like for me to take part in it. I know the balance of "creative" vs "quality" vs "something that someone will actually buy". I know what it takes. 

Every time I felt unsure about my new path, something came along to reassure me that it was right. Every time I posted a new illustration or finished commission photo to social media, I got tons of positive feedback. I feel like my illustrations are fun to do and that I am fast at them. And the finished projects always look so much like my original vision. It's the first time that I've felt like I can capture a vision in an illustration and it is very similar from start to finish.

When I came back to NYC at the end of January this year, I noticed something else. If I went shopping, I always was very aware of new concepts and fabrics, or interesting patterns in fabric. I had to look at things to see how they were made. I have hundreds of photos and screenshots of clothing on my phone that I never buy, just concepts that I thought were cool. You should see my fabric collection or my pinterest fashion photos. I can spend 10 hours working on a sewing machine or cutting out fabric and piecing it together, and I still want to go back for more. I close my eyes at night and have some new magical runway concept that I have to draw up before I fall asleep so that I don't forget it. 

I never felt this way about graphic design. Or really anything other than musical theater. But the problem I have with musical theater is that the lows are much more common than the highs. I am just not cut out for all the rejection in that world.

In jobs, I gravitated towards the people and environments that made me happy. But I don't know if I was ever really passionate about branding, or business cards or websites. I got more excited about user interface design (basically the visuals that guide a user to navigate through an app or site in an intuitive way) than anything in my earlier career. But even then, it is nothing like the passion I have for making a unique dress.

My goal for the year is to really focus in on the things that matter. Fashion design is why I came to New York, so it is what I am focusing on. I am not taking any new commissions after August so that I can really get a feel for my class schedule and what is going to be required of my time. (Also, I have been fully booked since March through now, so if you haven't scheduled a project with me before then, I won't be able to accommodate you. I only say that because I have literally gotten 1-2 new commission requests every week since April that I've had to turn down.) I am not auditioning for shows or taking on extra projects. School will be it, and if I have a great feel for it and think I can spare any hours for other projects, only then will I take on other things.

My program at FIT is one year, and it is intense. I will be in class 7-8 hours a day Monday-Friday. I don't know what the workload will be like, but I'm prepared to spend all my time focusing on school and homework. I have never focused on just one thing before, so I think it will be an excellent exercise in self control. I feel like my therapist prepared me very well for this change.

Even though this was the furthest move I have ever made, I have felt so prepared for everything both mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sure, we were down to the wire in the last couple days before the movers came, but my stress level never got even close to what it's been. I am relaxed and excited to see what the immediate future brings.

My career has always been me the square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Everything about this new life seems easier and has been just falling into place in ways I could never have imagined. I am so thankful that I decided to let go and jump.