Always a work in progress

“You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that.”
— How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are) by Bianca Sparacino

Sara posted the article linked above on Facebook awhile ago, and then this post sat in my drafts. But this idea – you are allowed time, you can backtrack, you can change direction in order to find your way – really resonated with me. As did the idea of finding what inspires you.

I feel like at some point in my 20s, I went into auto-pilot. I don’t know what happened, I’m sure there were many things, but for awhile, I felt like I wasn’t living my life. Or maybe the emphasis is wrong, maybe I wasn’t living my life.

I’ve always enjoyed being artsy and creative in some capacity (instrumental music and dance, to be specific). But when I was at that point when you’re supposed to figure out what you want to be when you grow up (you know, junior year of high school through sophomore year of college, the time when you pick a college and then have to declare a major), I knew I could never making a living doing artsy things. So I “settled” for PR/marketing because it was creative enough, but stable.

And then I kind of gave up on being artsy. My friend Teresa wrote a post that got me thinking about staying in my comfort zone, instead of doing the things I want to do, even if I don’t know where they’ll take me. And I immediately hated myself for putting my flute away, for stopping the piano lessons, for so many years of my only dancing happening at a bar not a barre.

I get so much joy out of creating art, even if it’s playing someone else’s music or dancing someone else’s choreography. Runners have that meme that you’re only one run away from a better mood – sure, but I’m just one class or rehearsal away from an awesome mood, and honestly, I get a high off performing that I’ve never had from any substance … or any race.

So, I’m allowed to backtrack. Maybe I wasted those years not doing any art, but that doesn’t mean I have to waste any more. Just because I can’t make a living off of something, just because I’m not naturally talented at it (I’m going to be honest, I was never that great of a flute player, given how many years I played) doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And if after a few weeks, months, years of this, if I’m tried of it, I can stop. That’s the benefit of living your life for yourself. The only thing you owe to anyone is letting yourself be happy. And there’s no “right” way to do that.

 

Linking up to Katie’s Take Time Tuesday for this post!

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12 Comments on “Always a work in progress”

  1. I think this applies to so many things. A lot of us get to a certain age/point in life and realize maybe we’ve wasted a lot of time. I was really mad to realize that I had, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to KEEP wasting time! I’m happy that you’re finally living your life as you want to 🙂

    1. And our life expectancy is what, like … 80? So we have A LOT of time left 🙂 I love when I see older folks still doing awesome fun stuff. I mean, my parents just finished their goal of seeing all 50 states. They recently traveled to Europe for the first time. They still regularly perform in a community chorale. Are you alive? Then you can keep living.

  2. Wow, I love this post and something I needed to be reminded of today. Lately, and the whole time going through IVF I haven’t been living in the moment or doing anything to make me happy. I’ve been so obsessed with having a baby and wishing the time away. I really want to stop wasting time always thinking about the future and the next stage in my life and enjoy what I have right now. Life is not a set timeline of milestones!

  3. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about figuring out how creative talents fit into my “regular” life. I’d consider writing to be my #1 art form, at least in terms of what I’ve always felt particularly skilled at and enjoyed doing, but since that has become my source of income (more or less), it’s stopped feeling so much like creating and started to feel more like what I have to do to survive, you know? I haven’t written “for fun” in probably a year and a half, because after spending a full day of work writing, the last thing I want to do is come home and write more…which has left me with a little bit of a creative life crisis, if you will. I still have some creative outlets, of course, since I take dance twice-ish a week. But I also wonder if waning interest in former creative interests is just a part of life — I’ve found new hobbies (like running) that I enjoy and find more engaging than old hobbies (like writing), but I’m also not 16 anymore, and maybe if that affects things. I’m also curious how those who do professionally pursue their creative impulses–professional musicians, dancers, visual artists, etc.–keep up their motivation to continue engaging in their art, even when it HAS become a way to pay the bills: if they just have more passion than I have (which isn’t meant to be self-deprecating — different people have different levels of interest in different things, of course), or if they somehow figured out how to separate “this is how I earn income doing my art” and “this is how I find fulfillment doing my art.”

    1. That is definitely a good point – once something goes from being something that you do out of pure joy, to a job that comes with obligations, some of the joy is lost. I went through that with social media – at first it was fun to engage with on a personal level, but once it became a part of PR/marketing and a part of my job, it was no longer fun. My team at work manages some bloggers, and at first I was annoyed that I wasn’t asked to manage that process, given my experience as a blogger, but frankly now I’m happy that I wasn’t. I probably would have lost any interest to do blogging for fun as a personal outlet.

  4. Such a great post. I too feel like I lost a part of myself in my early twenties as I switched my focus to things like school and career. It’s taken many years but I’m slowly starting to focus on my forgotten interests again. It sounds cheesy but perhaps the best part of being lost and wandering through life is the eventual re-discovery of our true passions? In other words, we need to “get lost” before “being found.” I think it’s so great that you’re re-discovering your roots…if not now then when?!

  5. I can totally relate to this and I think to some extent this is related to comparing ourselves to others or society’s expectations we think are put on us. But that the end of the day (or lifetime even), spending your time on what makes you happy and feel the most yourself is what’s important. I think a lot of people don’t ever realize this, so you’re one step ahead!

  6. Awesome post Maggie!! It is so easy to just get couped up and “go with the natural flow of life” that you just forget who or what makes YOU happy!

  7. Love this. I remember hearing someone once say that life is a constant. We don’t just do something one day for it to turn into the end of that. Our lives are journeys that are not straight lines – we go through twists and turns, and go forwards and backwards and sideways and in circles. And that is what makes life such an adventure! Big cheers to you pursuing the things that make you happy!!!

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