Sometimes, pursuing a creative career can feel like an uphill battle. But then I must remind myself that I have chosen this life, and there’s a reason that I have. It’s a world where it’s easy to feel like everyone around you has their whole career planned out step by step and have been honing their craft since they exited the womb. Already with multiple projects on the go and plenty of contacts to collaborate with. But fear not, for all is not what it seems- you’re not alone with what feels like the ten millionth application you’ve filled out this year.
The question is, how do you keep your spirits up, and your application (and enthusiasm) game strong, when not too far in the distant past you just received yet another rejection email?
Firstly; remember why you’re doing this. The reason you’re putting up with this struggle is because this is the dream. Limited opportunities within the creative realm often leads to oversubscription of any jobs that do come up. This can make that coveted internship feel about as realistic to acquire as fairy dust. But, trust me when I say (and I know that you’ve heard it a million times before); apply, apply, apply! It only takes one person to give you a chance and make all those rejections seem worth it.
My next suggestion is to do what you’re best at and create! Using your creative talents to channel frustration can be a very therapeutic thing. I understand that, if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do to relax is the very thing that reminds you how jobless you are. But don’t let this hold you back. Reclaim your trade! Don’t stop doing it for enjoyment just because you have dreams of doing it for the mula. Do it for your sheer passion and, who knows, maybe that song you write or illustration you draw will be the very thing that lands you that dream career.
Think about why this is so important to you! Have you been taking photos since before you could write? Does a bad outfit make you shudder to your very core? For me, personally, I know that whether I get paid to do it or not, I will always be a writer. I need to write to keep myself sane. Reconnect with that aspect of your passion that drives you to create. And think about whether you need to make your living out of it to be happy. For some people, keeping your passion as a hobby ensures that no magic is lost; retaining it as a stress-free zone.
However, if you can’t comprehend a life in which you don’t do your thang 24/7, then think about what you can do to get around it. Waiting on other people isn’t always the best way and, although joining an established company or project can have its benefits, doing things your own way is still an option. With a massive increase in DIY publications and movements (ah-hem- Polyester) it’s a great time for it. Which brings me to my next point…
Reach out! This whole creative biz can get a lil lonely at times. Long hours of solitary work can sometimes leave you feeling isolated. But it doesn’t have to be this way my fellow creatives! There are plenty of organisations out there- so go out and find your local girl gang. Whether that means a book club, writing group, radio station or, if you’re lucky enough to live in Manchester, Leeds or Sheffield- an actual Girl Gang (https://wearegirlgang.co.uk/). Alternatively, head down to your local art space and see what they’ve got to offer. If there’s nothing like this near you (yes, I’m talking to you my country dwellers) then I echo my earlier words; start your own! If that’s not an option for you, then be grateful that we live in the beautiful age of the internet. There are societies to be found everywhere; from Polyester itself to sites like Rookie and even Twitter. Utilise these tools to find your people, and you will find that your life gets a lot easier.
The main reason I wrote this article is because I was feeling in somewhat of a rut myself. If you’re reading this then I just want you to realise that, yes, sometimes it can be difficult to dig deep and find what remaining motivation you have left. But I’m here to remind you to do it, because it’s worth it! And if you want to make it more bearable in the meantime, then find some lovely people to surround yourself with and before you know it you’ll be well on your way.
Words: Bethany Madden, Illustrations: Kat Hillier