My profile page states that I'm not a professional artist.
I put it up there, nice and bold, so there would never be a mistake about that.
Yet, seeing the messages I receive, I think many people get me wrong on that one.
I don't state this whole not-being-a-professional-thing because I think my art sucks and I somehow desperately want people to reinforce me. No, I state this because I'm not a professional in the sense that art isn't my job. I'm not doing art for money, and that's the simple reason why. I never took art commissions and I've never even really tried to do so. Because I do art for the enjoyment alone.
Nice statement, you'd say. But you know what the strange thing is? People try to guilt talk me a lot.
Tell me that I'm low on ambition, that I would be able to make it if I really wanted, or even that I'm wasting my talent by just making art for my own enjoyment. Because "If you're good at something, you should never do it for free", right? And they think that I'm wasting both my time and talent because I could make big bucks from it otherwise... right?
No matter how flattering comments like "You're too good not to be a pro" might sound to an outsider, to me it sometimes comes across as hurtful. Because the reason I'm not doing art for a profession, is by choice. And getting that kind of comments, makes it feel like my choices are apparently considered stupid, ignorant, or even arrogant by people.
It was somewhere around August 2010 that I was given up by the doctors in the hospital.
"You'll probably never work again" they told me. "The pain is permanent. We can't cure it. But try to live with it, and try to live with the fact that you can't do 95% of your hobby's anymore."
And with that, I was send home.
No, I wasn't dying from terminal illness.
And if I had to compare myself with the many people battling cancer at that very moment, I probably didn't have it that bad. But as an only 22 year old woman, with sky-high ambition, that had been working so many hours in the past years... hearing I would be in permanent pain and NEVER be able to work again was the one thing I couldn't bear. From the outside, I might've looked totally fine. I wasn't the type to cry. But I could just feel my world crumbling. On the inside, it felt like I was dying.
A few months before all of that, my wrist literally broke down. From one day to another, I wasn't able to use the computer at work anymore. I thought it would be fine. Just give it a few days of rest, I thought, just like any other person would've thought at that time. So I stayed home from work for a few days, took some good nights of sleep, only to find out that it wouldn't just go away. In contrary; it kept getting worse. After a few visits to my doctor, they soon concluded I had an inflammation of my wrist joint.
"You've worked too hard. Your muscles are simply overloaded. Give it some rest" the doctors told me. And while highly impatient (because that's my personality), I just decided to do as they told me, and take some rest. At that time, I was still pretty optimistic about it. Yeah, the pain was bad, but it would go away... right?
Well, it pretty much didn't...
I was eventually diagnosed with permanent RSI. But that diagnosis wasn't at least a bit helpful, since apparently nobody knew how to cure it. I visited many doctors and multiple physical therapists, but as I eventually met my health insurance budget, I had to stop going there. The worst point was somewhere late 2010. At that point I've had multiple inflammations in both of my wrist- and my elbow joints. Painkillers had become my daily routine, and even then it hurt like hell. Because of the pain, I had lost so much muscle strength that even the basic things in life became a challenge to me. Things like opening a door with a key, opening a bottle of soda, riding a car, or basically lifting anything that was over a kilo (and that's a lot -- believe me).
Early 2011 I met a doctor that proposed that I should do rehabilitation therapy. You know... the kind of therapy for people who lost their bodily functions because of either a stroke or an accident. It sounded weird to me, but I had nothing to lose, so went there anyway. I spend a few months in rehabilitation and it was that experience that opened my eyes so much. I've seen people that lost everything, but still managed to adapt their ambitions for life, accepted their lives, and just kept going. It inspired me beyond anything else, to know that the human mind can be so powerful.
It's been 3 years since then. I only spend a few months in rehabilitation training, and from there on I kept on training by myself (again; insurance budget).
I now learned that my physical condition has to do with a genetic issue that makes my joints weak anyway. So no matter how careful I would've been, things would've broken down anyway eventually. The doctors where right about the pain being permanent. I'm still having pain every day, and I will continue to have so for the rest of my life, but I learned how to manage it. In order to live my life, I had to turn everything around. Training has become my daily routine. It had to, in order for me to manage the pain. I now hit the gym 2 times a week, and train at home almost every day.
Yeah, I hate those god awful "look at me working out in the gym" Facebook posts so much! Because I have been working out every day for the last 3 years, and I don't brag about it on my Facebook page. I need it in order to be able to do simple daily tasks!
One of the hardest things I had to learn was to give up on my sky-high ambitions, and learn to appreciate the simple things that I enjoy.
I used to be working for 60 hours a week, if not more. And even art was a competence I just wanted to get better in for the sake of eventually being able to either sell or acquire fame. Things have changed a lot over the last few years. With all that training, I'm now able to do a full-time job. A very stable job in IT, that I like doing and that earns me enough money not to worry about paying the bills. What I can do in my free time is usually limited to a few hours, because training takes up a lot of time and my wrist still is very fragile. But in those hours, I'd like to do something that I ENJOY, rather than something I just do to make money. Because... what's the value of money when you can't even enjoy it?
To the people that ask me why I'm so down to earth and have such realistic expectations of life. This is the very reason why.
And to those that still think I'm wasting my talent by not doing art as a profession. You don't know even half about it... and you probably don't even realize how lucky you are to not know so.