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I imagined my life would be so different. Maybe that’s not true — I imagined what we’re taught to imagine. Go through education, get a job, get married — go the whole hog. I always knew that I’d never be able to settle for a ‘normal’ career — one where you resent your boss, resent your co-workers, resent waking up each morning and knowing you’re going back into the pit. I was so sure I’d fight to stay out of the trap that most people find themselves in — adamant not to be someone who gets to the age of 60, and wonders where their life has gone — where their chance ran off to.
I found a job I like. Well, I found a job that’s bearable, in an industry I’m passionate about. It pays, but not enough. And every month, when my wage comes through, I sit and stare at my bank balance and think, ‘how am I going to get through the next month?’ Surely compromising on the things you need to do is no way to live? And I’m not talking about spending hundreds of pounds buying clothes, or video games for easy entertainment. I’m talking about funding creative projects. Fuck it. Creative work. Who’s to say that an album I’ve poured my all into is just-for-fun, and not an important piece of productivity. I’m talking about spending £300 to pay someone for their expertise and services — that are so crucial to the finality of my album. I’m talking about paying £300 to take myself and my brother away for his birthday, to show him how much I treasure and appreciate him. I’m talking about spending money on things that genuinely move me, or someone I care about, forwards.
But at what point do you stop and say to yourself, ‘You cannot afford to fund your creativity.’
People don’t understand what that means. Creativity, to me, is everything. Most of my days are taken up with my brain writing stories, writing plays, writing songs, thinking of drawings I want to create, or art I want to produce. For me, if I’m not creating, I’m not living. I’m just walking through life for no reason. I refuse to believe that I have to give up on the only things that make me content, put a price on my own happiness, and stop the only outlooks that lessen my anxiety — by being a platform for creative and emotional expression — just because I can’t afford it.
Money is toxic. It is at the center of everything this era does — our sole purpose for being alive, to make money, to buy shit we don’t need. It feels suffocating, the idea that I, too, am a slave to money. I have no problem with earning and with working to live. I know that we must put out in order to receive. But how can that be all we strive for? You’re not earning enough, so you may not create. I earn minimum wage because of my age — no matter my experience in different industries, no matter my skill sets that range over a broad spectrum of areas — irrelevant to the kind of job I get, whether full or part-time. I am 21. I will be paid minimum wage no matter what. How does society expect young creatives to get anywhere in life without losing their minds or their artistic integrity?
They don’t. They expect us to give into the mundane — become one of the many, and accept that that is it for us. ‘Everyone else has to work in jobs they hate.’ Yes, because they settle. They decide not to take the hard road — the road that leads to creative expression and fulfillment. They chose to do what ‘everyone else’ does. Because it’s easier, and it allows you to live. Just live. Not enjoy life, just… live.
If I give up on my creative outlooks, I’m giving up on my own happiness. And surely that is just as horrific as knowingly avoiding the main-stream, and condemning myself to a life of struggle.