Brain Dump: Life Choice Anxiety

So today’s post is going to be giant rambling schlog. I have every intention of making it coherent, but we’ll see how that goes. Along with sharing things I love, I use this space to share what’s going on in my life, and lately I’ve had some life choice anxiety that’s been weighing on me. I’m comfortable enough in my little blog space here to share it, so here goes.

So as you all probably know by now, I’m opening up an art shop at the beginning of April. And while I’m very excited for that, I’m also so fucking stressed & anxious about it. Mainly because I don’t feel like I have a clue what I’m doing. And I don’t mean just about setting up shop. I just don’t feel legitimate as an ‘artist’. I know my work is good. And I’m loving pushing out of my comfort zone this year. But I still feel like I don’t really have a direction for my art yet, and it makes me feel invalid. Like there’s no meaning to it.

I’ve been reading, researching, and attending webinars about having an online business and establishing a client base and the main thing that they all seem to ask is, What service are your offering or problem are you solving for your client? And I don’t have an answer for that. Somehow, Uhhhh, I draw cool shit? just doesn’t seem like enough.

Now, I’m not being unrealistic. I know that art isn’t exactly a problem solver, it’s an aesthetic! I’m not trying to find some deeper existential meaning in my work. But I would like to feel like it has some direction by the time I open up shop. Also, I’m super worried about what’s even going to be IN my shop. I don’t exactly have a plethora of stock ready to go, despite working steadily these past couple month. Is what I have enough? Will anyone care? AHHHHHHH! That about sums up my brain lately.

Another thing causing me life choice anxiety about this venture is something I only came to realize after chatting with a friend this week. I feel guilty for it. Once my daughter starts public school in the fall, I will be dedicating all my time to art and attempting to earn my income via that, instead of some ‘real life’ job where I’ll be miserable. And I feel incredibly guilty for it. Because I love making art. And I get to spend all day doing what I love attempting to make my living out of it, while my hubs is off to his day job which he loathes.

He supports me 100% in this venture. In fact, me doing this means he gets to keep judging Magic the Gathering tournaments on the side which he absolutely loves doing. But I still feel guilty. I still feel like I’ll be sitting at home enjoying away my day while he supports us. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I’m not doing ‘nothing’; I’m actively working towards a career I love. And while my brain knows that, I still feel like a jerk for it.

guilt face

So overall, I’m stressed. I don’t feel ready for this yet, but I know me. I’m the kind of person who eventually has to just jump in otherwise I’ll spend all my time researching and preparing and researching and preparing, all the while never actually GETTING to it. I will learn to accept that this is a valid choice. I will learn to say with confidence, “I’m an artist.” when people ask me what I do. Even if I’m not there yet. My shop will open up in April. Even if there are only five things in it. And I’ll go from there. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, right?

Have you ever had life choice anxiety? How did you deal?

  • B.

    Ya know, someone out there might buy a piece of your art because it DOES speak to them. It might turn someones day around. You never know, and you shouldn’t diminish what you’re doing or creating!

    • Kay

      That’s a really good point! Thanks Barb!

  • Emma

    You’re offering a service to make people’s lives brighter, more colourful, and more exciting. Making people’s walls less bare. Making people’s homes speak to them, and about them. I think that’s a great service, and if anyone can do it you can. You’re artwork is amazing, and I could never imagine you not having a clientele.

    • Kay

      Thanks Emma! That’s such a good way to think about it. I’ve got a long way to go in the confidence department!

  • I totally relate. Ultimately, you’re chasing what makes you happy, and that’s a great way to live your life. I totally get feeling like you’re doing nothing, but you’re building something. That’s totally worth it.

    • Kay

      Yes, exactly. I’m so amazed at how difficult it can be to embrace the fact that chasing happiness and fulfillment IS worthwhile.

  • I’ve been there too, more or less. I opened a shop over Society6 a couple of years ago selling my photos as cards, framed decorations, tote bags and so on. I earned so little money, but I was happy because I thought I had to declare my earnings for taxes only from a certain amount (italian laws) I didn’t reach yet. Then I realized I was wrong and I realized I had to give up, because I would end up earning nothing. The thing is more complicated, because italian bureaucracy is crazy. However, this stress me out all the time, because I know I’d have the potential to do more, to have a side hustle, but I can’t risk my money that way.

    Biz webinars can get you very anxious, try to do what you think it’s right. I did that with my blog at the beginning of this year, I stopped following all the “rules” and it worked so well! Good luck with your shop, I’m your cheerleader!!! <3

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Alice! Yeah, taxes are another big thing I’m prepping for. I’ve attended some super helpful webinars about how they work when you are the sole proprietor of a business and they’ve been incredibly informative. Definitely has me feeling better about it!

      I do agree about webinars too that they can be intimidating, and make you feel like you’re doing things ‘wrong’. I’ve seen and heard so much about email lists being THE THING to do, and honestly, I currently have no intention of setting one up. It’s just not what I’m after. So I do take some advice here and there, but I will definitely be playing to my own tune for a lot of it. Gotta go with what’s comfortable!

  • Rain

    I don’t usually comment on stuff like this, but I’ve been seeing this more and more. So many people are starting to come out that they’re in your shoes. I’ve spent a lot of time doing what you’re doing to learn how to promote myself and take care of my business. The first thing I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that you do is check out Tara Swiger’s #BizConfidenceChallenge. ( ). I really feel stronger after I have started to follow her and follow through with her lessons. She does a great weekly Periscope series, where she will start on Monday asking everyone what they’re doing and then following up on Friday with how you managed to succeed. She has a great community and everyone cheers for everyone.

    As for your husband, I can give a small amount of perspective from his point of view. I work on my business with my wife and I’m a partner in it, but I am the one with the full time job that I could seriously do without. We haven’t reached a point where we make enough to cover us both and it’s endlessly frustrating for me. I’ve got some different reasons, but I still buck it up every day and go to work. The only thing I can tell you is that if he wants out, to find something better for himself, then he needs to make it himself. You can’t keep beating yourself up over him. He loves you and honestly he’s going to be more concerned with you and your happiness than going to work at a crummy job.

    I’ve had experience with building a business and dealing with these kinds of messy problems. If you ever want to talk, I’d be happy to. I really think that you’ve got potential to do so much and you can totally do it. <3

    • Kay

      Thank you so, so much for this comment! Confidence is definitely struggle with in various aspects of my life…I find that in some things I am really confident and in others I’m just a mess! It’s definitely a learning curve.

      I do know that my husband is happy supporting me. We don’t hold back, and if he really wasn’t on board he would tell me (and vice versa). I trust him, and I know he is happy to support me in this venture. But I still sometimes struggle with feeling like I don’t contribute. It’s definitely something I’m working on changing my mindset about.

      And I am absolutely going to check out Tara Swiger! Thanks for the tip – it sounds like a great community!

  • Yo. We need to have a skype chat ASAP. This has been me since we moved to Toronto. (Queue tons of flash backs to me sobbing ugly face screaming “i’m not even an artist i dont know what i’m doing!”)
    Now that we’re back in the states, I was like “oh fuck now I have to get a real job” NO. Mike’s been supporting me and making sure I do and push toward whatever “this” is, but I’m still figuring it out and finally gaining momentum (it was a really mollasses start is all I can describe it as). But actually, talking to Dorothy (Dorothy Art, the girl I assisted while we were in Memphis) made everything SO MUCH CLEARER. Everything makes more sense when you bounce ideas off of other artists, ask them questions, and I think every day you get closer to where you want to be. I’m actually writing a long blog series about it, and was going to ask to interview you as apart of my series which I’ll explain later on. But please! Don’t even hesistate to fb message me, skype me, google hangout whatever! I am available any time during the day, and I’d love to chat.

    • Kay

      We must Skype chat!! Yes!! So much yes!! I’ll send you a Facebook message and we’ll try and work out a time soon (I’m available most nights after 8pm Eastern – kiddo’s bedtime hehe). And whatever is it, I am absolutely happy to be interviewed by you. 😀 Can’t wait to read your blog series!

  • christine

    Oh Kayly. I completely understand all of your anxiety and I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Just know you’re going to come out of it stronger and with something awesome to show!! It’s not all going to fall into place right when the shop opens, but your talent will speak for itself, and alongside all your planning and organization you should fare just fine!!! You have more going than “I like to make art” – you are learning business and marketing skills, you have a following on your blog, and you’re putting in the work up front! I wish you the BEST of luck and I will certainly be supporting you when your shop opens!!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Christine! I am excited about it, but there is a lot of stress that comes along with it (and inner turmoil…I swear my brain is just against me sometimes). I feel like self confidence is often a struggle for me, but I’m working on it! Thank you again for such kind words!

  • No no no, don’t feel guilty for doing something you love!!! Life is too short for that shit! I understand why you do because a “real” job makes a lot more money, but if you’re going to be miserable then that’s not fair to you. You can always get a part-time job later to supplement your income if you really need it, but I think you should follow your dreams first! You can do this!!! I can’t wait to see your new shop!!! 🙂

    • I can’t say it better than Sara did. If you have the chance to do something that you love (and have the opportunity to make some money from it), you should definitely give it a go. <3

      • Kay

        Thank you Mandy! And I am definitely so thankful that I am even able to have an opportunity like this. I think my brain is my own worst enemy sometimes…it lives to stress me out haha.

        • Oh, I completely understand! I’m the same way. It’s good to have friends who can reassure you that you’re doing the right thing.

    • Kay

      Thank you Sara! And you are so right. Life really IS short and I am so thankful that I get the chance to follow my dreams. And even if things don’t work out in the long run, that is okay, and I will most definitely continue to make art!

  • I have, but I normally go with my gut and decide what my gut says is right. You just gotta do what you love. It shows your little girl to follow her dreams and that you aren’t afraid to take a plunge. Do it! I can’t wait to see your new shop!

    • Kay

      Thanks so much Dina! Didn’t even really think about the example it’d set for my kiddo. Good point!

  • Oh man I feel you so hard on feeling guilty about how he’ll be at work! I know what I want to do in the long run with my career but i’m consciously putting that off until we have kids so I don’t feel guilty about being a WAHM. Like in my brain it’s more excusable for me to take this pay cut if i’m justifying it as “well I was going to be a SAHM anyway and now I just get to earn money for us too! Look it’s useful!” which isn’t because of my fiance at all! Like i’m sure he’d support me no matter what, but i’ve got this huge with control and I have to justify that to myself first.

    You’re going to figure this thing out, even if at the end you really do decide “I make cool shit!” is your brand then that will still be amazing, because it’s true and it’s heartfelt and it’s who you are. You are always free to grow and change! Don’t forget that! I can’t wait to get some art from your new shop!!!

    • Kay

      Such good points! You’re the best Meagan! I definitely agree that guilt and needing control is such a struggle with all of this. When I was pregnant and we worked out that we could afford for me to be a SAHM, I remember struggling more with combining our bank accounts and earning zero income than the idea of having a newborn haha! But it’s true…that was honestly the hardest decision. Being completely reliable on someone else is nothing I’d ever experienced and relinquishing that control is SO hard. Sometimes the mental obstacles are the hardest to overcome. Thanks so much for the kind words Meagan!

  • I really get this. I believe in ya Kay!

    It’s so hard to feel like you are doing something when you aren’t getting paid for it steadily and well or when you’re just about to start. But we mostly do it for ourselves right? It is first for us and a really great bonus once we succeed at getting paid for it.

    This is a passion of yours don’t forget it. It’s super hard when passion becomes work and then you kind of lose the joy you had from it originally. Try not to stress. You got this!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Hadas! And I completely agree with what you’re saying about it being a passion, and not to lose sight of that. I definitely won’t. I don’t make art with the intention of making money. While it would be great, even if this venture ends up a flop, I will still absolutely still be drawing and making what I love, and sharing it here on the blog. Art isn’t something that will ever NOT be a part of my life, even if working as an indie artist doesn’t work out! 🙂

  • You go girl! I’m so excited for you.

    I’m really glad to hear that your husband supports you. My ex was not very supportive when I was staying at home working on digital art (I had a small shop online too, never blogged about it though) and he just was not supportive at all! He would come home and ask me “What did you do today? How much money did you make?” and eventually I went back to work a “regular” job clocking in. I’m still there now and I don’t hate it, but I do miss being home all day 😛 Don’t worry about anything, you just make great art, put it up for sale and just enjoy it!

    • Kay

      Thanks Jessica!! I do so appreciate my hubs support. He is often my reassurance when the doubt and guilt creeps in, and it’s something I’m so grateful for. And drawing what I like and attempting to sell it is totally my plan ahaha! At least in the beginning. I do have some other ideas kicking around, but that’s how I’m starting. Plus offering custom commissions and fanart commissions of course!


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