Is Being a ‘Struggling Artist’ Worth It?

I’ve been reading quite a few blogs and blog posts by and about people who are experiencing the life of either being a “struggling artist,” or just an artist living in an urban setting and their experiences doing what they love in a world where reality can make that a little difficult. Considering this is my last year in undergrad (in a week my last semester, yikes!), and my future career goals, it only makes sense that I read, follow, and gain information from people who are going through most likely what I will be going through (hopefully) in the near future.

Now, when I said I hope to be going through what these bloggers and writers and artists are going through, I mean I hope to be in a position come August where I am living on my own, in an urban setting, with some type of job or internship centering around writing and doing something that is putting me closer to my dream or where I want to ultimately be as far as my career goes. As of now, I have no plans to go straight to graduate school, so for me these next few months are crucial and slightly terrifying. I am for the first time in my life kind of… “winging it.” When I read these bloggers’ experiences and the hardships they go through I am not surprised because that is what I expect. I expect to not have the best paying job or even a non-paid internship, and it doesn’t surprise me that working a day job and doing your passion on the side is not only a viable option in the beginning, but quite possibly the only option at some point. I never expected to get the dream job right away, and as for a time table I even expected this stage of the struggling artist to last a few years. I mean, things should start taking off and being established after a few years right?

That is the scary part. From some of the posts I’ve read, it seems like you’re either struggling trying to hone your craft, or struggling trying to keep your craft after working “necessary” jobs. So, my question or concern is: is it all still worth it? I don’t have a true desire to be the wealthiest or rich, and although I love shopping and having nice things, I won’t compromise for a career just for the money. I want to love what I do—which for me is writing. I find myself becoming a little discouraged after listening to family members and reading some of these posts because I’m afraid that the negative may outweigh the positive. Although I believe everyone should do what they love, the reality is that, unfortunately, that is not always possible. I know your dreams are supposed to scare you, but isn’t it reality that’s the true scare? Will I end up falling victim to the reality of writing as a hobby instead of a career and working only for money?

I obviously do not know the answer to any of these questions yet, and I’m sure some people will say it’s worth it and others will not. For now, however, I’ll just keep trying my best to set myself up for my definition of success and enjoying the journey. In my opinion, the journey is where the story is, and even if the outcome is not what I initially wanted, I have to believe that my hard work will make it all worth it regardless…or maybe I just drank far too much optimism and naïveté this morning.

So to all the artists out there, is it worth it?

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2 comments

  1. Nicholas Davis · January 6, 2014

    You have to figure out how to best market your passions if you are going to pursue them. Combine them with something valuable if you have to. You are already blogging, but are you trying to make money off your blogs? I don’t have all that much experience with blogging, but I’m in a similar situation with art, and I’m figuring out how to follow my passion and still have an income. You can definitely succeed, no doubt. But if you haven’t taken an internship yet in school, you should postpone a semester to take one because that is probably the most important thing at this point for you.

    • goalfulchels · January 6, 2014

      I think that is where I currently am right now–trying to find the best way to market and incorporate my various interests, which along with writing is photography and sewing. This will be my last semester as an undergraduate student, so I am looking at summer opportunities and jobs in my area mostly dealing with journalism and seeing where that takes me. I currently just blog as an avenue to write and document my photography and receive feedback (like this) as well as try to build a readership and community within my interests, but it is definitely a way to market myself, and if eventually it becomes a sort of job I am open to that as well. I think I am just really open to any opportunity at this point as a way to grow and learn in general. Thanks so much for your input!

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