So You Want To Be An Artist? (or How To Deal With Disappointment 101 or Notes on Funemployment 1)

Featured imageImage from berlin-artparasites

I was around 3 or 4 when I asked my parents to let me join Little Miss Philippines on Eat Bulaga because I wanted to be just like Aiza Seguerra. I wanted to have my own TV Show, star in my own movie, endorse all the hotdogs I could ever want but my Father said no. He told me to focus on my academics because he doesn’t want me to end up like all the problematic celebrity kids. But I could not be stopped. I joined all of the productions I could. It did not matter if I was a tree swaying in the background or the star of the show. I would finish my homework early so I could play dress up and practice my Little Miss Philippines spiel in front of the mirror. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I wanted to be in the limelight. It wasn’t just about becoming famous and getting the applause. It was about sharing your life with about 10 million different people at once. Connecting with them. Hopefully making an impact in their lives.

I’ve pretty much known from the get go that this was where I was meant to be, but sometimes life takes over. You’re not pretty enough. You’re too ordinary. Nobody’s gonna cast a big girl. Be smart, girl. Don’t waste your life trying to chase an impossible dream. With my self-esteem lower than the average temperature in Antartica, I hid behind my thick lenses to protect myself from the cruelty of onlookers; used my books and my stories to help me figure out where the hell am I supposed to bring myself now.

I consumed and created, created and consumed. Secretly. Not-so-secretly. I felt like a double agent, leading two lives. One of an adult who seemingly has her shit together and that of an artist: messy, unorganized, complicated. For years, I tried to figure out where I fit in. I went into teaching kids because that felt like the perfect way to create an impact. I went back to school and got into social work, it was beautiful and jarring at the same time. Then I inserted myself in the corporate world. I had the skill set and the hunger to get through the first few rounds but after that I was beat. I felt my soul dying. It was like the first lines of a fairy tale gone wrong: “There once was a little girl with bright eyes that shone like stars, ready to take on the world but was overcome by it. Her bright eyes now never-ending pools of regret she is drowning in.” That was when I knew I needed to get out.

Telling my parents was easy. One evening, I went home and told my parents I couldn’t do this anymore and broke down in tears. As in ugly crying y’all. Things were not going well at work, I was disappointing people left and right. I was thoroughly unhappy. Of course, my parents comforted me and told me to pray about it (as did I), and that they’ll support me in my decision to leave my job. So I did. I left the corporate world, much to the dismay of many.

Then comes the hard part. A couple of months into my fun-employment my parents asked me the dreaded question, “so what do you wanna do now?” I only had one answer in mind and I knew they were gonna hate me for it. I quietly answered “I want to be an artist.” That conversation ended in tears and looks of disappointment. Similar succeeding conversations ended in the same manner, this time with slightly less tears but still the same amount of disappointment.

A year and three months after, I am still an artist, checking stereotype boxes left and right (especially the poor part, I think this is the longest time I have ever gone without any savings or formal income of any kind) but I am still alive and probably the happiest I have ever been. Thank you parents. ❤

The stakes are higher and the pressure greater, and it shows, no matter how much I try to manage it. If I show it to you by means of being masungit or whatever, that just means I am willing to be vulnerable with you. I’d want you to give me a hug or hold my hand and tell me it’s all gonna be okay in the end.

I still see the disappointment in their eyes when they look at me, and they will try to refute it after reading this, but don’t worry. I know that you’re like this because you love me and you’re scared for my future. Know that I love you and have faith that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

I believe that in the end it’ll all be worth it. I am worth it.

One day, mapapakain din ako ng masarap ng passion. Malapit na malapit na yun. I can feel it. ❤

If you know an artist who is struggling in any way, show your support. Go to their shows, buy their artwork, listen to their stories, offer them food, or even as simple as give them a hug or tell them they’re awesome. Believe me, this goes a long way for someone who is consistently trying to swim above and not drown in the current of pressure, hopelessness, and insecurity. Yes, being an artist is extremely difficult and we can always choose the safer path, but why should we?


3 thoughts on “So You Want To Be An Artist? (or How To Deal With Disappointment 101 or Notes on Funemployment 1)

  1. This is spot on. Thank you so much for writing it all down with such beautiful words. Very relatable and gives me so much feels. Definitely brings me back to the darker days when corporate work seemed to eat me up alive and all I wanted to do is quit my job and risk it all to follow my passion. After almost 2 yrs of being legit “unemployed/self-employed/tambay/raketera/full-time artist” (a lot of people seem to see it differently. Eitherway, I really don’t care haha!), I’m still at it. And although it is hard (and it definitely gets pretty tough sometimes), I got no regrets. The risk is all worth it. I just hope other people see it the way we see it too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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