On Being a Young Creative

For all of my recent college grads, young creatives, and artists who have recently graduated college or who have stuck to the adage, “Don’t quit your day job,” I want to take a minute to reflect on what that means for our lives. If you’ve recently graduated college, congrats! I’m really proud of you. You’ve accomplished an incredibly challenging feat in the midst of an unprecedented, global pandemic. I know. I was there. I graduated University in June of 2020 and I felt the ever-growing despair hanging off of me like the branches of a Weeping Willow. It derailed our Post-Graduation plans, if you had them (I definitely didn’t) and it forced us to confront the most hostile job search environment that’s existed in our lifetimes. We went from Entry Level Jobs being difficult to get to being impossible to secure. Over the past couple of years, folks with more experience in the corporate workforce have been scooping up the Entry Level jobs and this has led to the trend of what used to be Entry Level jobs now requiring three to five years of prior work experience. Now, the only jobs left for us recent grads are in customer service and retail. Jobs that are, to put it gently, soul-sucking, spirit-crushing, and emotionally and physically draining.

I have a Bachelor’s degree and the only jobs I’ve been able to secure post-grad have been two, work-from-home (it’s a pandemic) call center positions, making mere scraps above minimum wage an hour. My current job requires me to work forty-five hours a week in order to be considered “full-time” and leaves me crying on my breaks and finishing up my days feeling like a shell of the person I was that morning. This poses the question: How are young creatives supposed to create and feel inspired when the modern day workforce is putting up blocks against us securing jobs that allow us to foster that creative energy within our work and leaves us with jobs that rob us of our love of doing anything?

This is the struggle that I’ve faced since graduation. I no longer have access to spaces where I can work and develop my creativity, where I have peers with whom I can foster and grow my work, or even twenty minutes a day to do it in. Like many of you, I’ve felt lost for seven months. I’ve read all the articles on how Waking Up at 5 AM Changed My Life and You Can Too! And I’m not gonna lie, I’m probably gonna try it. Because I’m desperate. We’re all desperate. Desperate to feel something again. Desperate to create. Desperate to have a job that we can clock in at without feeling like suicide is the favorable option. Desperate to get more than scraps for doing heavy emotional labor for nine hours a day and still having to wonder how we’re going to pay the electric bill this month.

My mother told me once, “It’s what you prioritize that gets done.” And she’s right. If we don’t make our art a priority, then it won’t get made, or written, or baked. But where do we find the energy? Where do we find the inspiration? Where do we find the time? How do we rediscover the joy of creation when we’ve gone numb from repetition and all that fills our minds is, I haven’t done the laundry in three weeks, and the fridge is empty, and the dishes are overflowing in the sink. I’m a failure.

I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. Instead, I propose the only solution I can muster.

We try.

We try to rediscover our joy and sense of wonder. We try to pick up the pencil, open up a book, sketch, doodle, paint, create. Because when we become docile, everyone who’s ever believed we couldn’t do it, we couldn’t make it, we weren’t good enough, wins. I propose we begin to create again out of spite. It’s not the prettiest or the purest motivator but god damn does it work.

If you’re an artist, of any kind, of any age, I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me about what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. What motivates you to create? What fuels you? Excites you? Keeps you going? Please let me know. I could use something other than spite to keep me going.

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