It's Not A Real Job

It'll be no news to artists and creators the kind of comments that emerge when you disclose your profession. 

'But that's not a real job...'
'When are you going to get a proper job'
'How much money do you make' 
'You just sit drawing pictures all day'

I could go on for a long time. I am blessed to have someone in my family who is also self employed and has been for most of her working life - that person is my Mum. Can't rave about that woman enough on my blog clearly, but Mum is the only one who can relate to my triumphs, struggles, experiments, catastrophes and victories that go on in my home-based studio and even having her to go to doesn't always make it easy. 

The older generation especially, like grandparents, are very difficult to sway around to the idea that working for yourself is a thing. Then there are the people who haven't got a creative bone in their body who think it's okay to spout off their concerns for how you make money, accusing you of scrounging off your other half, not actually working at all but lounging around at home all day. Not to mention the really cheeky ones who feel the need to ask how much you earn. Balderdash. 

This is the kind of attitude that for years made me believe I would never be able to do my dream job, to work for myself, to manage my own time, be my own boss...I thought it wasn't possible more times than I thought it was. The negative assumption from so many people that doing something artistic isn't a real job at all but just a lazy lifestyle, an excuse to paint and drink tea all day, can be a very damaging outlook. Luckily, we live in a world where now more than ever, people are working for themselves or working towards just that. Whether they're full time artists, content creators, craftspeople, it's perfectly acceptable to have a creative job and be self-employed.

I used to really struggle in every job I've ever had because although on the outside I was a 'yes boss' kind of person, I only kept my head down most of the time because I knew it was easier than challenging things I didn't agree with. As time went on, the more and more I couldn't for the life of me understand how I could ever spend my entire working life slaving away as another little cog in someone else's empire. Why weren't more people saying to themselves 'enough of this, I'm going to build my own' and taking a huge leap of faith. I ended up feeing very ill mentally because of the strain I had put myself under trying to work out why I was scurrying around with all of my team mates, at the bottom of the scale, getting no recognition for hard work, not agreeing with the companies principles, demands and ethics and feeling as though I couldn't do anything about it.

Too often I read about people only plunging into self-employment because they felt they had been pushed to their limits health wise in their day job. I'm a little ashamed to say I was also one of those people but also very proud that I took the leap. It's never too late to start your own business, but I feel terrible that it took for me to become seriously mentally strained to realise I could jump for what I wanted and never look back. It took for me to no longer be able to recognise who I was, feel angry at the sight of my own reflection, feel like a suicidal mess on each commute to a place I really didn't want to be, to realise I had to regain control of my own happiness and where my life was going.

For the past few months, I've had the usual comments from family and some friends that I should be looking for a proper job by now, or will I manage to pay my bills or ever start a family on what they're assuming is a lousy wage. My anxiety is still lurking, I didn't expect it to go away, but these days I find myself questioning whether people think I pretended to be really ill just so I had an excuse to leave my old job. Did people think I just wanted to be a housewife, was that it now? I got married now people think all I do is sit at home, watching Netflix and doodling pretty pictures. I've even cried to James, apologising for leaving work, that I'll get a  new job and I wasn't doing naff all at home all day. He didn't need telling, he put me straight and reminded me of why I left and that it was with his encouragement that I did leave. It can be so damaging being told that what you're doing isn't a real job. A lot of my old job I can't even remember but I think that can sometimes happen with stress; the brain ends up blocking the stress inflicting events out.

Obviously self employment also isn't for everyone and we all dream of different things. Some will read this and think there's nothing they'd like less than being their own boss and actually prefer working for someone else and that's totally okay too! If you're dreaming of one day becoming self-employed, don't for a second give up. Work hard and have little goals and targets to reach, keep a journal, document your failures and achievements and do not let anyone dull your sparkle by telling you it'll never get you anywhere in life, cause it will.

Thanks for reading,

Christmas Fair #2 - The Victorian Market

A couple of weeks back I was sharing with you all the story behind my first Christmas fair in four years and the first fair as Pastel to say it was a complete and utter flop that one. Understandably, the outcome of it made me extremely apprehensive about the next one two weeks later but I gave myself a slap, reminded myself that this time the location was much better meaning people would find us, we had a great spot in one of our local coffee shop courtyards and once again, I was going to have some awesome company and not be sat on my tod.

This fair is one of the biggest in the country and it has a Victorian theme to it, so many people dress up and embrace the towns traditions, there is live music in the town centre, the Christmas lights are on and there is a brilliant atmosphere. We were lucky enough to be offered a spot behind our favourite coffee shop which meant we were out of the way of the main hustle and bustle of human traffic but also in a great place still for a decent amount of footfall. We set off bright and early, got the table set up and this is what it looked like!

I couldn't quite justify buying a Victorian outfit that I was only going to wear once but that didn't stop James from whacking on clothes he already owned and doing his best Peaky Blinders impression. If I say so myself, he looked just like Tommy Shelby! It was great to have him there for this one as he couldn't make the previous stall we did and I think he also enjoyed seeing us in action. Vikky came with us again and she was such a huge help I still can't thank her enough. We went a lot more prepared for this one which I'll go into in just a sec but I still got rather cold hands (due to an injury) meaning when it comes to handling money I am completely hopeless, but Vikky was there to support me and I couldn't have done it without her. James wandered around, drawing people in and meeting the other enthusiasts who were dressed up, we kept our bellies full of hot, delicious food from the coffee shop all day and had a really great time.

The last fair Vikky and I attended left us thawing out for the following three days - not even kidding. For this reason, this time around we took extra measures to ensure we stayed warmer because sitting still behind a table for eight hours in the middle of winter is hard work. James got us all some disposable hand warmers which lasted the entire time we were there. To be quite honest with you, we all ended up tucking them into our shoes because our feet got the coldest but they weren't uncomfortable to wear between our socks. We all had double layers on our legs, double pairs of socks, two coats, hats, Vikky and I had gloves and scarves and we didn't actually get too cold.

Not long after setting up I realised I hadn't remembered to pack the  framed sign I had made with our shop name on it so James once again saved the day and dashed to The Works where he managed to get one of these light box displays for £10 and it did the job perfectly. We'll be taking it again that's for sure! As the day went on and as lunch time passed, it got darker and a bit colder yet there we were underneath our pink gazebo having an absolute blast. The coffee shop owner kept checking we were alright for food and drinks, the live music was keeping spirits high, the lights were twinkling and Pastel Elixir had a really successful day out.

Thanks for reading!

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