Your 9-5 doesn’t have to be your creative passion

Your 9-5 doesn’t have to be your creative passion.

I’m serious. Your 9-5 doesn’t have to be your creative passion for you to be a creative person. It doesn’t.

I listen to a lot of creative podcasts, read a lot of blogs by creative people, and scroll through more creative content than is healthy. Everything I see seems to encourage the idea that you should be turning your creative passion into a job.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people monetising their passions, being creative, and just generally doing more of what makes them happy. But I do have a problem with the idea that it’s what you should be doing. That it’s the way you prove you’re serious about creating. That it’s necessary to show you’re committed and courageous. That it’s the way.

I have a problem with it because it’s not true and because it left me feeling really awful about myself.

I spend my 9-5 in an office, doing really engaging and interesting work. That means that I, like many people out there, work on my creative projects in my own time. My blog and my design work are side projects that happen on evenings and weekends. While I make a little bit of money through my design, it isn’t, and might not ever be, my full-time job, and I’m certainly not in a position to be able to do a similar role inside a company. My creative passion isn’t my job.

But that doesn’t devalue what I do. It doesn’t mean I’m nor creative. It doesn’t mean I’m not committed.

There are so many reasons I, and so many other people, have jobs that don’t involve our favourite creative pursuits, that don’t mean we’re running scared. We might like the stability they offer. We might be making sure we’re ready to take a creative leap. We might be gaining skills and contacts and experience. We might need their financial security. We might love the office environment. We might find inspiration in doing something completely different and being surrounded by people who are outside of our creative spheres. We just might love them too.

Yes, taking that leap to make your creative passion your full-time job is incredible and brave and something you should do if you want to. But don’t feel like you have to, or like if you’re not doing it right now or even planning on doing it that what you make is worth any less.

This one is for me as much as it is for anyone out there reading this one. However, creativity is a part of your life enjoy it and value it.

I think too often we define ourselves by our work titles rather than our values and our passions and who we actually are, which means that if you don’t have a creative title it can feel like you’re not actually a proper creative person. Whatever that means. So many people feel scared to define themselves as creative because their creativity comes in the form of a hobby or a side project.

“I paint but I’m not a painter.” “I design but I’m not a designer.” “I make badass creative projects and write about them but I’m not a creative.”

Do any of those seem familiar to you? Well, I’ve got news for you, if you’re creating and making and it brings you joy, you are a creative person.

Be inspired by the all the podcasts and the blogs and the creative content out there that pushes you to be more creative. But please don’t feel pressured to need a creative job title or a creative lifestyle as defined by someone else.

As long as you’re making time for your passions where you can and when you want to, then you’re already there. Prioritise creativity in a lifestyle that suits you and you’re doing it already. Keep pushing yourself to be and do better, but make sure it really is you pushing not some idea of what you should be doing.

Enjoy where you’re at. Whether you’re happy with your work situation or you’re on your way to making a change. Revel in the moment you have and the balance you currently have. Then get creative with it.

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8 Comments

  1. Chloe
    June 25, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    Well said. I’m pursuing a creative career but not afraid to have non-creative jobs in the process. I like to listen to The Minimalists podcast and they often say you should try asking people “what are you passionate about?/what do you love to do?” instead of “what do you do?” to avoid that conversation trap of comparison based on job titles, which, as you said, do not define you. 🙂

    • Natalie
      July 6, 2017 / 5:29 pm

      I absolutely love The Minimalists – I really need to listen to their podcast. That is such a great way of looking at the world, and a question I wish people would ask me more often!

  2. June 26, 2017 / 8:48 am

    This was a read that came at just the right time for me. I often define myself by my job title and like you said, struggle to say “I’m a writer”, even though I write a blog which well, makes me a writer! It kind of reminds me of the whole bikini body thing which I wholly embrace, to have a bikini body you literally put a bikini on your body. It’s the same for these titles I think, if you paint, you are a painter etc.

    Thanks for the thought provoking read, I’ve only recently started following you and I look forward to all of your posts!

    S x

    • Natalie
      July 6, 2017 / 5:30 pm

      First off, you are totally a writer if you want to be, amongst so many other things. Second, thanks so much for the support!

  3. June 26, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    I struggle a lot with this, I’m still a student but after uni it’s deciding whether to peruse my academic work and go further in physics or try and make something creative my work, but I definitely have time to work on both and see what I can manage, and I think you retain a different level of enjoyment when your creative passion isn’t your 9-5

    The Quirky Queer

    • Natalie
      July 6, 2017 / 5:31 pm

      I completely agree. I feel like the two things can feed off each other. Also you’re still young (and I’m still young too) whatever you decide now isn’t forever, and you can do more or less of either of them (or something else) as you get older

  4. June 27, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    This is so helpful for me. I’m in college and I’ve been agonizing lately over what I want to do with my life. I love blogging and being creative but I don’t know if I’m good enough yet to make it a full job. And I feel like if it was, I might be more stressed out and enjoy it less. I listen to a whole slew of those creative podcasts also, and it’s nice to hear another perspective. You can still be a creative if it isn’t your 9-5.
    Julia | juliainbluhm.com

    • Natalie
      July 6, 2017 / 5:33 pm

      So glad it was helpful Julia. You’re able to do as much or as little of either and still feel like you own it, and you’re not less of a creative or whatever else it is you do – jobs are things you do rather than things you are. So just choose to do the things that make you happy

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