I admit, I am not totally certain where that quote is from and who said it but, the second I read it, I identified with it. That is especially true after the last four days at the One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago. To say I had the most amazing, most cathartic, experience is putting it mildly. Sure, some might think that’s a wee bit dramatic but I promise you, it isn’t an exaggeration.
As most of you know, this was my first show ever. One might say that picking the OOAK Show as your very first show is mildly insane and one might be right. To say I was stressed beyond belief in the weeks leading up to it and just about all four days… not an exaggeration. Sales aside, which were wonderful, phenomenal, outstanding… what I walked away from the show with is a renewed sense of what I want to do, who I want to be and what I need to do.
I got to hear, first hand, people’s responses to my work. I got to see their faces when they looked at the pieces on the wall and see just how it affected them. This isn’t something I can see selling online or even at my Galleria space. I had a woman come up to me and tell me that my work makes her happy, it makes her smile and I can’t begin to explain the impact that had on me.
I have worked for the same company since I was 23. Fifteen years, in various roles, a steady and very good income, health benefits, you name it. The trade off? The kind of stress that knocks you for a loop and makes you want to curl up under the covers and shut out the world. What sort of life is it if everything you enjoy: family, friends, the holidays and, in my case, my craft, is negatively affected? No amount of money or security makes up for that. So, today I gave my notice and December 30th will be my last day with the security blanket that I have carried around for 15 years. Sure, there may be times when I have to eat Ramen noodles and PB&J for breakfast, lunch and dinner (ok that was an exaggeration… thankfully I was given the ability to cook and cook well so I think I can forgo the Ramen noodles… I will never forgo the PB&J though… yum)
The OOAK Show was the air I needed to realize that the job may have been providing income but, ultimately, it was holding me back. I never pushed myself 100% because I knew I had the steady paycheck to fall back on. Over the last four days, I stepped away, stepped outside, breathed deeply and realized, this is who I want to be, this is what I want to do. January 1st will not just be the beginning of the new year, it will be the beginning of a new life for me. One where I am on my own and don’t have the safety net to fall back on.
I’m scared, I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m relieved, I’m hopeful, I’m energized. I am 38. It took me about 35 years to finally figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up and it took me four days at the OOAK Show to finally decide to pursue it full force.
My point in sharing all this is, sometimes you have to find that one thing that forces you to get up from your desk, step outside, take in a breath of air and decide who you are and what you want to be. If it means taking a new path, it’s never too late to go for it.