Not A Corporate Clone: Why I'm Proud Of My Creative Spirit

by Kelly Alto

I was never the type of kid who knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Just the opposite, actually.

I have probably changed my mind more than a million times. Even in college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. One thing remained constant though: I knew I wanted to be truly passionate about my career, which had to be something creative.

When you’re the creative type who’s trying to pursue a career utilizing your creativity, talents and interests, chances are in the beginning, you’re not going to make money doing so. It sucks, but it’s true.

On top of that, creative personalities don’t tend to do well in the traditional workplace/office environment. So, you have to figure out a way to make enough money to pay the bills while simultaneously honing your creative craft, in the hopes that, one day, you’ll be able to make a living off of it.

If you can achieve the balance of making money while having the time to pursue what you’re really passionate about, it sounds like a win-win.

But what happens when you’re at a party and you meet someone who asks, “So, what do you do?” Creative types usually dread this question.

My boyfriend’s sister was getting married, and I found myself feeling nervous about going to the wedding. I wasn’t nervous about whether or not my dress was the perfect combination of appropriate and attractive; I wasn’t nervous about drinking too much, and I wasn’t nervous about doing the "Cha Cha Slide" in front of his whole family. (Those are all things I excel in!)

The thought of meeting everyone in my boyfriend’s extended family and being faced with the unavoidable question, “So, what do you do?” was feeding my anxiety.

I’ve had a number of odd jobs to support myself while pursuing my dream of being a writer/working in comedy. I’ve been a waitress and bartender, I've sat in a glass box for eight hours at a hotel in Hollywood (They called it "eclectic decoration."), and currently, I work at a mattress store.

I’m a 24-year-old, "normal and nice-looking" girl. I’m smart; I’ve never even gotten a "C" in school before, and still, when someone asks me, “What do you do?” I honestly feel embarrassed.

Notice how I had to defend myself by stating I was "normal" and preambling I’m not a deadbeat? It’s because I get the same reaction from people every time: I tell them I work at a mattress store, and their heads tilt like confused puppies, promptly followed by the harsh wave of their judgment smacking me in the face. (That’s what it feels like to me, anyway.)

My silly ego cares so much about a stranger’s opinion of me, it’s started to affect the way I feel about myself. Realizing this has been a monumental turning point for me.

Our egos are so quick to make us feel like we’re not good enough, or we’re not where we’re supposed to be, but we shouldn’t let it affect us.

Our egos are seeing everyone on our Facebook News Feed posting about getting promotions, buying cars, going on cool work trips, etc. It’s natural for us to compare ourselves to everyone around us and to drown in what society expects from us.

When you’re the creative type, taking the conventional route just won’t be for you. And that’s more than okay.

When my boyfriend's grandma asked me what I did for a living, my ego took over my mind. It had me thinking, “I wish I had a cool job.” I wanted to gain his family's approval by having them think I’m on the right track in life.

But, who gets to define what a "cool" job is, and why does the job you have get to define you? You have to decide it doesn’t define you because it really doesn’t.

I’m friends with people who have those long and confusing job titles at big companies, and each and every single one of them bitches and moans about his or her job; mainly because none of them are passionate. Their egos may be satisfied because of their job titles and corporate outfits, but that's about it.

Being born creative is truly a gift with which not everyone is blessed. The best part about being a creative type is you literally get to create your own success. The worst part is, you have your ego to battle.

Once you change your perspective of your "odd" job (or whatever it is that’s making you feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be), your ego will shut up.

It’s actually pretty awesome that ambitious creatives get to split their energy. If you have a bad day at a job you don’t like, you should put that energy towards what it is you really want to be doing. Within 10 minutes of creating whatever it is you’re creating, your mind will be completely off that person or situation that pissed you off, and you’ll be focused on what really matters.

Perspective is everything. Once I decided to change the way I presented my job, I noticed a huge shift in how I felt about myself and also in my creative productivity.

Now, when someone asks me, “So, what do you do?” I tell them, “I’m a writer.” Sure, that’s not how I’m paying my bills, but they don’t need to know that. That’s the job I’m choosing to identify with.

Sometimes they will say, “Oh, so what do you do for money?” When this happens, be honest. But, most importantly, realize they’re probably only asking you this so you’ll ask them the same question. That’s all anyone wants: a brief moment to have his or her ego stroked, whether he or she is aware of it or not.

Being conscious of how your ego is reacting to the titles and labels in your life is beyond crucial. All we really want is to be happy and enjoy life. People are going to judge you regardless of what you do. We are all guilty of placing judgment.

Continue to do what makes you happy and stick with it with a positive, productive and present perspective. You will get much further if you don’t let the outside opinions of the world get to you.

The way you make money isn’t everything, so don’t let it define you.