Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not Quite a Doctor

Today I'd like to write a little bit about working in art and crafting as a job. This is a dilemma that I've been working through because I'm finally facing the reality that I can actually work as a full time artist but my upbringing made me feel like it wasn't good enough. I would imagine that there are many stay at home spouses that craft or garden or take up some activity as a full time hobby. Is there some sort of shame that you're not working or going to school and attempting to better yourself as society pressures our generation to be?

So I'll start at the beginning. In kindergarten when you attend career day and get doled out fantastic futures as presidents, doctors, firefighters, and movie stars, I wanted to be an artist. It's funny because I'm pretty sure I wanted to be a veterinarian but apparently I drew myself in a lab coat with a pallet and brush. I've been art every art program available from elementary through high school including after school ST-ART, summer classes at the community college, and contests. Oh the contests! But somewhere along the way, I stopped wanting to be an artist. I was determined to be a doctor. I attended college as a pre-med/psych double major and hated it. So I spent years thinking I was going to be a doctor. I certainly had the grades and all that other superficial academic stuff going.

My senior year of college, my boyfriend of 4 1/2 years proposed. As our engagement developed, it became more and more real that I wouldn't be a doctor. My fiancee is planning on a military career and I want to be with him every step of the way. That doesn't leave much room for four years of medical school and residency at some hospital. So there began to adventure into figuring out what I was going to do.

I'm going to be an artist.

And I struggled with this for a long time. I mean I got straight A's, I lead clubs, I did things to ensure my entrance to med school and a ridiculously rich future. Now I was stuck as some housewife not living up my potential? So it seemed for months. But then I realized, I never really wanted to become a doctor. There's no calling for me or any burning desire to help people (like that).

It took a lot of digging to realize that my family, more my mom, always put me up to have some prestigious future, as all parents should. Anything less was unacceptable. I've had tons of professors, advisors, family friends, and others ask me what I'll do after graduation. There has yet to be a single person to say, "That's great!" when I tell them about my art. Every single person has said, "Well ok but what are you going to do for a job?"

Really? It's like you can't be happy for someone unless their job aspirations are doctor, lawyer, or something that makes a ton of money. I'm so incredibly lucky to find and marry someone who is ok with me wanting to do art as a career. Someone who doesn't demand that I find a part time job to pay for "my half" of everything. This is a rare opportunity that I want to take but so few seem to understand it.

I've received the works in regards to this career path. From guilt trips about all my parents have done to ensure my future, to shame about how I'm a parasite feeding off my future husband's salary. But you know what? Working at an art studio is the best option I could take even though it took a college degree for me to realize it. I can do what I love and constantly be creative and productive, I will be home and available for when my husband is not training or deployed.

It's not quite being a doctor, but  I'm happy with where I am and even happier with where I'm going to be.

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