love yourself by feeding your creativity.

The clock’s second hand ticked slowly around the clock and the passing minutes felt like hours.  I looked up to the clock and sighed. It had only been 10 minutes! I was at my full time job, in a position I didn’t love and I remember thinking to myself, “if I could only work at a job where I was creative full time– THEN I would be so happy.” I worked at a printing company and as the time rolled along I knew I needed to make a change and find a way to be creative. If I couldn’t I would burst! Fast forward a few years and I have my wish. I’m the brand designer behind a little branding studio and to my complete surprise, I have found that this creative job would never be, and could never be, the end all to my creative thirst. Rather, my need for creative freedom would manifest itself in other ways that I would never expect.


BORN CREATIVE

Growing up I’ve always been called “creative” or “artistic”. Ever since I could hold a crayon I found myself coloring in Lion King coloring books and drawing Disney characters. I remember taking drawing lessons when I was 8, 9 and 10 drawing intricate portraits with 4B pencils. I’ve also been musically inclined, taking piano lessons when I was young up until high school playing some of the classics like Mozart and Beethoven. But as I became an adult and got a job out of college at the printing company, I found that my childhood love of drawing and music weren’t just pass-times but creative endeavors – creativity was etched in my DNA and I needed an outlet.  


FINDING AN OUTLET

Subsequently, I landed a variety of part-time jobs in addition to working full-time at the printing company. These side jobs kept me interested, learning and excited, which, as an Enneagram 7 is exactly what the doctor ordered. For years I continued on at the printing company while pursuing creative outlets in the form of part-time jobs, such as a painting instructor at a painting party company, as a photographer at an award-winning photography studio, and participating in galleries, showing my drawings and photos.

While these pursuits were enjoyable they were not sustainable and I found myself racing between jobs, exhausted. The breaking point was when I found myself crying in the bathroom at my day job. I needed a breather. I needed to be doing something that was creatively fulfilling to me. There had to be a way where I could be creative on my own terms. Thus, my business, R Artspace, was born; a branding studio for ambitious women entrepreneurs where I could combine most of my creative passions: drawing, design and photography in one place while serving others. It was the perfect solution! I make it sound like this business was birthed overnight and nothing would be further from the truth. Many months were spent researching, planning, and watching the online business world from the sidelines. It wasn’t until many months later that I would finally launch my website and begin my business. This business of mine was a side hustle but I was determined to turn it into what would become my creative day job.


DAY DREAM TO FULL TIME

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During my side hustle days, R Artspace replaced all the other side-jobs and become my number one focus. The side-hustle turned full time gig took much longer than I originally thought. Almost three years of working evenings, weekends, and trying to turn it into my prime time work. But the struggle was worth it and in January of 2019 I was able to take my business full-time and my mission was complete! I could be creative on my own terms and find my joy and creative fulfillment in my full time work. It was truly a dream come true.

But over the months as my side hustle became my day job, I noticed something. My creativity and my passion had turned into paying the bills. It wasn’t creativity just for fun, I was designing and creating to please my clients and I had guidelines to follow. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the work I do and the clients I work with, but this is what happens when you get paid for your work. You need to work within certain parameters.

I remember reading the book “Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity” and in the book the author warns about turning your passion into your day job saying that you lose “creative autonomy.” But it wasn’t until I took my business full time that I truly understood that. I don’t have complete creative control, but rather, creativity that is controlled.


FIND NEW CREATIVE OUTLETS

With this newfound revelation, I sought out other creative ventures. But not to turn them into a form of income but rather to seek out freedom. A true form of creativity for creativity’s sake. Not only would this help me keep my design work fresh and exciting, it would be a place for me to enjoy something just for me. I’ve always read that it’s healthy to have hobbies but before this I never had the time. Or, perhaps I never made the time. I guess I didn’t see a need to have a hobby. But now as I have ventured into a new world of becoming a business owner and having new pressures and challenges I’ve found that having a hobby that you can enjoy is so rewarding and, dare I say, necessary.

As creatives, I believe that it’s so important to keep creativity close to us. Creativity for fun; not to make money off of it, not to turn it into a business but purely for the freedom and joy in it.

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3 HOBBIES I AM CURRENTLY LOVING

I’m taking drum lessons. To my husband and friends, this was a surprise and honestly this is probably one of the most impractical pursuits I’ve ever had. I’ve always wanted to learn so I decided to make it happen. Why not? Learning rhythms and how to master a beat is SO FUN and I honestly wish I started learning sooner. Taking drum lessons has been a huge source of joy for me. And this is one of those things that I don’t have practical use for but I love it for the sake of freedom and joy and that it’s just for me.

I began baking. I started with cookies and breads and brownies. I’ve never been particularly fond of baking; it always seemed like such a chore, but now as I’ve been exploring it more I’ve found it to be a wonderful form of enjoyment and relaxation, especially when I’m able to give the treats away to family and friends.

I’m spending more time in the books. I’ve always loved to read and in the last few years I haven’t made time for it in my schedule. But lately, I’ve made it a priority and I’m reminded how much I enjoy immersing myself in stories. Even books for business are enjoyable when it’s on my own time and for my own pleasure.

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These hobbies may seem like very small pursuits, and they are. But as I’ve mentioned, we as creatives need a place to be creative for ourselves. A space to have freedom and joy without pressure or rules or getting paid or needing to please someone.

Not only have these creative ventures helped me stay inspired and excited in my business, it’s been a beautiful form of self-care. I’m indulging in things for no other purpose than because I truly enjoy them. Having complete freedom and autonomy with your work, whether that be with your instrument, your designs, or creative pursuits is such a beautiful way to love yourself.


ARE YOU PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS? 3 QUESTIONS TO FIND OUT

  1. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do? I’m sure you have a great list of things that you’ve wanted to pursue. Perhaps it’s learning a language, travel to a new city, try out new recipes, or learn the cello. These are forms of creativity. I encourage you to find joy in the process for no other reason than because it’s something you’ve always wanted to do.

  2. How are you pursuing creativity this month? As spring is upon us, is it gardening? Making trips to the library? Drawing in your sketchbook? Finding ways to be creative doesn’t have to be complicated, it could just be doing something you haven’t done in a long time or trying something new. And make an effort to carve out some time in your schedule to just do it.

  3. Do you feel joy in your life right now? So many times we’re so busy with work and life, but how often do those pursuits align with joy and contentment and excitement in the present? It’s hard to find time, especially when you have a lot on your plate, but making time for yourself in the form of creative pursuits, is showing yourself kindness and that’s something we all do for ourselves a little more.

In your own business and life, I encourage you to pursue passions outside of a paycheck. Do something new that you’ve never tried before. You may love it and find a whole new fulfillment in a way you didn’t expect. And I’m betting that you’ll find a new sense of self love through these pursuits; pursuits that perhaps you’ve always wanted to do, pursuits that may seem completely ridiculous, but ones where so much joy can be found.

RuthAnn Rafiq1 Comment