As 2016 draws closer to its conclusion I have found myself reflecting on the most amazing year I have had in terms of personal growth. The pic in the featured image was my very first stand up comedy gig in May. I have been writing and performing comedy ever since.
Til I was about 44 I repressed my creativity into pursuits I was convinced were “more productive”.
“What do you mean you want to be a writer? Do you want to end up living in a garage eating dog food?”
Those words spoken to me when I was announcing at 12 what I wanted to be, rang loud in my psyche until very recently. The arts and anyone even vaguely associated with the arts – were scoffed at in my FOO (family of origin).
You had to get a serious job and pay the bills. NO room to be creative was allowed. The irony is that some members of my family still brag how I wrote my first poem at 8. It was push/pull.
One minute I was praised for my writing and creative ability and the next minute verbally punished. *I need to make it clear, there is no blame here just discussion. There were positives and negatives with this FOO experience. My post-war baby boomer parents acted in this way cause this was what you did to ensure your child “survived”.
So I channelled my creative mind into a “profession” and even though I thought I was in the drivers seat, something else was.
Me. I was driving and not driving, there was choice and not-choice simultaneously. From a technical career I hated, to moving into anthropology (which I love); a career that meant I had to observe and comment, albeit in very “dry” terms. I had to immerse myself in life and write about it for purposes such as cultural heritage management, cross-cultural literacy projects, teaching/lecturing, field work of various applications of my training.
This year I committed to making a living through a day job and a creative life outside (which has three parts, performing comedy, speaking gigs and painting) of work that I plan to build into my full time career in the next ten years. The day job is still there, but the monotony of it allows me to do the other “more important stuff”.
As I do more stand up comedy and learn to promote myself properly. See one of the head shots below that I just had done professionally. I found really hard to do cause I was talking to myself like my mother would. Instead of listen I channelled that negative voice; thus the middle finger on the cup. However I grapple with this undercurrent of disapproval even to this day.
As a child I was not allowed to shine, perform, sing or act without encountering considerable negativity. Perfor ming was considered vain, superficial etc. etc. I still have significant performance anxiety I have to overcome every time I speak publically or perform. So many people I talk to, who have seen me in action, find this hard to believe, but it’s true.
However the caution and care that comes from that negative undercurrent of childhood discourse, is a good thing (I have made it a positive). Because all my work has meaning and is not intended to just benefit me. Cause I can’t stand money-obsessed “Khardasian” culture as I call it.
In a world becoming incredibly narcissistic it can become easy to label performers unnecessarily. But there is still a difference between craft and art. I would like to think I will take this new career on as art – seriously with the intention to give to others, make a living and not become a commodity.
I haven’t believed that phrase “make a living” has to mean a career to merely pay the bills and conform to societal expectations for about 15 years. I believe it should be an extension of who you are.
So culturally I think we have to bust the “starving artist” discourse. It just serves to punish creative people and try and put them on a capitalist factory line of producing tax paying drones with depression. Lots of people make a living from artistic work (and pay tax too!) and we need to revalue the arts. The arts provide us with a sense of the world in more ways than we acknowledge and realise.
Here’s the thing. If you have a creative child and you are not particularly creative, don’t label them.
Don’t let some teacher or doctor tell you it’s a behavioural issue that they seem easily distracted or day dream. So they are not going to be the Civil Engineer you wanted them to be. Maybe they will become a architect and build amazing structures or a graphic designer or something else. Creativity and a career don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Let them find a path that honours their creative mind.
I don’t resent any path I have taken. Each one has given me experience to get to here and I am grateful. However part of me wishes I had been encouraged to be as brave as I am now – when I was 12.
If you are interested in my comedy agency (my non-day job) – visit http://www.ginandtitters.com.
Early next year I will be preforming stand up comedy at Adelaide Fringe Festival and doing some speaking for International Women’s Day in Alice Springs and Darwin.
Or drop me a line on the contact form below.