"I'm tired of working, working, working and not feeling like I'm getting ahead."
This was voiced to me by a friend last night in reference to a tight financial situation. I could sympathize with the feeling and at the same time I thought to myself that if I was taking in the funds that he was taking in at his job I'd be able to live quite comfortably and I wouldn't be complaining so much. At that point a little buzzer went off in my head. It was joined by a bell, a gleaming white light bulb and a voice in my mind that said...
"Hey there little Miss Judgypants, wasn't so long a go that those words could have come from your mouth."
It was two years ago that I quit what would be considered a "good job" because I'd decided to go back to school and I wanted to make more time for my creative life. I was miserable in the job and by the time I got home I had little to no energy to devote to creative pursuits. I spent a lot of money on things like eating out, clothes, and Friday nights out. I was making plenty of money but I was always broke.
Since then I've managed to make a living by cobbling together two part time jobs, custom crochet commissions, the occasional performance gig and teaching. Money is often very tight. I make just enough most months to cover my expenses and there is rarely anything left over for extras like eating out, happy hour or travel. I have not bought anything new other than the recent purchase of a much needed trash can. "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without," has become a bit of a mantra for living these past two years.
I have found that while I may be poor in dollars I do have a lot of something else. Freedom. I am able to make my own schedule for the most part and so I am able to attend the classes I'd like to attend and not the ones I have to fit in around a regular 9:00 to 5:00 work schedule. If it wasn't for this cobbled together life of mine the money I do make now from custom crochet orders would not be coming in at all because I would not have the time available to market myself or to actually work on them. When I am feeling stressed out I am able to get up, walk out the door and head a few blocks down to the seaside for a wonderful change in perspective. I can meet up with friends for a walk or a picnic lunch or take myself out for those things solo. I have time to write regularly and naps are a pleasure I able to indulge in regularly.
Yes, there are times that I will kept awake at night by the thought of how I may pay my bills or finding yet another creative way to cook rice and beans, but so far it has worked out and overall I am far happier today than I was two years ago. I hope that two years from now, or ten years from now, or anytime in the future when money may flow more freely into my life that I will remember this.