Creatives, you have value beyond the success of your career.
This post is going to be pretty honest, because I think I am not the only creative dealing with this issue right now, and I want to start a conversation. This is not about “success” or “failure,” but about the idea of value. Specifically, when you hit snags in your creative career – whether that is a lack of sales or being hired for your services, or not getting opportunities you apply for, or even getting harsh criticism about your work – how do you remain strong in the value of your creative work? And how do you separate your value as a person, a human being, from your work?
A few weeks ago, I started unpacking the negative voices in my head, realizing that I was equating my worth as a human being with the success or failure of my art business. That’s what my therapist would call a “faulty belief.”
This is what I am changing my belief to: I have value no matter how my art business is doing.
This is hard to remember, but I think as creatives we need to. Yes, it is important to build a strong, sustainable business. It is important to produce your best work, to get your work out there, and ask for payment for your work. But it is not our value as people.
I think of all the other things I do that have absolutely nothing to do with my work as an artist and entrepreneur. I am a mother. I am a yogi. I am a really good skier. I volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization doing amazing work in the mental health and wellness community. I am also just a human, and even if I do nothing, I have value, intrinsically.
Businesses go through ups and downs. I imagine that there are lawyers and real estate agents and accountants worry about their businesses at times.
Right now, I am looking at what I can do to get my work out there and find opportunities to share it in the world. I am applying for residencies, grants, galleries and exhibitions across the country. I have new work on Serena & Lily as well as my website. I am in the studio regularly, working, trying to make really great art.
I am also practicing self care, and trying to live in the moment, be present. To enjoy my time with my kids. To go to yoga, to go skiing, to go on dates with my husband, to spend time with friends, to watch stupid movies. All the stuff that makes me feel ok with the world, beyond sales numbers.
zLate last year, I attended Mika Brezinski’s “Know Your Value” conference. She talked a lot about money and the importance of asking for your true value for what you do. She also talked about learning from failure, and being open to failure as a lesson that propels you forward in new directions. After the conference, I felt empowered and educated. I felt like I could talk back to the people who had told me that what I was doing was a hobby, or that I should do it for free, for “exposure.”
The one aspect we did not discuss was our value as women, as people. That if we are not getting our monetary value, we are still worthy of existing. We do have to ask for that value, but we are not defined as humans by it. This is my challenge: remember that a person who works at a fast food restaurant, or as a housecleaner, or in childcare is just as valuable as the CEO, or the accountant, or the rocket scientist.
What is your value, creatives, within your creative career, and as you, a person? How do you find it? How do you stay true in the knowledge that you have value, no matter your bottom line?
Because you do. You do.