As you can see, I haven’t posted anything on my professional Instagram for about three months. That last post was around the time my heart was understanding something my brain wouldn’t yet agree with — I was not meant to run my own business.
For some context: I adore creating things. I inherited my creative spark and talent from my mother, and I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t enchanted by paints, charcoal, thick paper, colorful pigments, dark ink, and smudged fingers. After college I saw so many “solepreneurs” and “lady bosses” making it around me in the creative hub of the Twin Cities, and I was completely caught up. I was swept along in a current comprised of one part inspiration, one part aspiration, and quite a few parts, well, envy. I wanted what they had. I wanted the modern/vintage combo studio, the shining, diverse portfolio, the inviting website, the freedom to work when and how I wanted, the family of encouraging collaborators. And how could it go wrong — I love art! That’s surely all it takes; the crowd of creative business owners around me made it look so joyful and easy.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to take some elbow grease. I knew there would be difficult clients, long hours bent over the work table, cramped fingers from gripping the pen into the night, practicing until I went cross-eyed. My head knew that, and my heart thought it sounded amazing. I could fit it in around my “day job” and make it happen until I could go full-time. I could really be my own boss, construct my own work space, schedule my own hours, have that perfect work-from-home balance.
And it worked, for about a year. I had clients, they were happy with my work, they were giving me glowing reviews and recommending me to their friends. I was expanding my ideas, trying new things, dreaming about the “big time.” And then, without noticing, I was myself putting things off. I was turning down opportunities. I would rather read a book or organize the kitchen or have dinner with friends — this was my “free time,” I didn’t want to spend it working! But Lindsey, isn’t that the life you’re dreaming of? Being in charge of your time and choosing to spend it on your work, what you’re passionate about? Isn’t art “what you’d rather be doing?”
At this point I put my shop on vacation, telling myself I needed a breather to re-focus my goals and generate some exciting new ideas. I spent time with my husband. I read books. I went out with friends. I threw myself with new purpose into my “day job.” I watched a TED talk called “How to Unfollow Your Dreams.” I took time to understand how I even work as a person. Turns out, on paper, I’m the last person that should be their own boss. Concrete schedules, clear instructions, finite checklists, set working hours, annual reviews, progress reports — all things that make my little INFJ heart sing — are seldom found in the working life of a solepreneur. Being your own boss means not knowing what your day is going to look like. It means having your plan change in a split second, making it work with what you have, taking opportunities before you think you’re ready. All those things, the things that I saw in the lives of those around me and thought I wanted, were sucking the life from me. They’re good things. Extremely admirable traits. But God made me how I am, and I’m not wired to thrive in environments like that.
This process has taught me to admire all the lady-bosses around me even more. Having dipped my toe into that pool, I am in even more awe at seeing them thrive with the late nights, the “work until it’s done” hours, the making it work when things change in a blink. They’re on fire! They’re up to their ears in what God created them to do.
So, as I glance over my meticulous personal planner, my three redundant calendars, my bullet-pointed monthly task list, and my to-do list for today, I think, “How did I ever dream of a life so full of curve balls?”