After having a lot of ideas swirling around for a while, and feeling fuzzy about all of them, I now have two clear ideas of what I would like to do in the future. The problem is, I can see myself doing either, but I don't think it would be possible to do both, which means I would have to choose one. And the choice seems impossible.
I didn't always know if I would try to "go to work" as the boys got older. I have nothing against the idea of being a homemaker even as kids are in school full time. There is obviously always plenty to do as strictly a wife and mother and household manager, and to me that is a completely respectable way to spend one's life. For me, I think it's time to look for something to do outside of that. The fact that I can't stop thinking about these possibilities makes me think it's time. These two ideas, in particular, have me all wound up and excited, and that is why I feel I should pursue them. There was always the possibility in the back of my mind that I would go back to school, but nothing in the academic world has ever called me back. There is not a degree or career path that made me nearly as excited as these two options, so why put myself through all the work and expense? At this point I think it's safe to say my school days are over.
-------> The first idea is not quite as clear as the second, but I'll describe it as best I can. The plan would be for me to attempt to be a visual artist. I can't tell you how uncomfortable it is to even write that, as I've never had any formal training and it feels somehow extremely presumptuous to think I could do this. Nevertheless I am audacious enough to think I might be able to do it. I would rent a studio to work in, because trying to work from home is really difficult and distracting. I would make art to try to sell..... Original work (collage, assemblage) that I would then turn into prints and attempt to sell, probably via etsy. In addition I might try to get pieces into galleries and shows. This is totally foreign to me, and I never would have dreamt of doing it, but then I met a woman who made me think it's more about legwork and hustle than being a "real artist" and that anyone who can write an email has potential to get into an art show. It's not such a mysterious process as I thought, it just takes work.
I will admit, this idea is still a little vague. But I do have a lot of ideas for *things to make* and I have a driving need to *make things* so I think this might be the way to do that. Getting a studio and treating myself like a real artist would help my confidence and productivity, I think.
-------> The second idea is to open a quilt shop. I would stock all manner of quilting fabric, notions, and supplies. I would host classes and maybe even host the local quilt guild meetings, if I had enough space. I am new to the quilting community in Chicagoland, but based on the little experience I've had, a few conversations and forum threads, I believe there is a need for a local quilt shop. I truly believe that if I opened it, they would come.
I think opening a quilt shop could be fun and fulfilling because of all the interactions I'd have with creative individuals. I'd also get to be around gorgeous fabric all day. And I really, really love fabric. I could be an endlessly enthusiastic saleswoman for fabric, I think. It would be challenging to run a business and keep track of all the facts, figures, inventory, etc. But I think I could learn that. It would be hard but I could do it. My biggest concern with choosing the quilt shop route is that I'd never have time to create again. I would be a business owner, not a crafter/artist/maker/creator. Hell, I might not ever make another quilt again, if I opened a quilt shop, let alone tackle all the other hundreds of ideas floating around in my brain. That seems like a huge sacrifice, and it's what is holding me back more than anything else.
I've thought about maybe trying the artist thing first, for a year or so, to get it out of my system.... to get all my ideas out and then be freed up to do something else. But what if someone else opened a quilt shop while I was doing that? Or what if it took off and I never had a chance to live my dream of owning the cutest quilt shop in town? I really want to do them both. But realistically, I don't think I can.
Either one of these ventures could fail. Failing to build a successful career as an artist would be a lot less expensive and a lot less public than failing as a shop owner. I do see value simply in the process of making things, so even if I didn't make money at it, I could feel proud of my work and claim that as success. Then again, it is true that one of my goals is to make money and help support my family. So being profitable would be a goal of mine as an "artist." It wouldn't be 100% about creative expression, there would be a drive to make money there too.
One thing about the shop is that the hours would be a lot less flexible. I would have to be open at times when people wanted to shop. I might have to have someone else pick my kids up from school. It wouldn't be totally up to me when I went "in to work." I'd have to set hours and keep them. Probably including weekends. If I were trying to make a career as an artist, and going in to work on my own work, it would be on my own time. Which would mean more flexibility and ease of meeting family obligations. It also would mean I'd have to be more self-motivated and disciplined. Owning a shop would sort of force me to meet certain deadlines and keep up with things. If I'm working by myself as an artist, there would be no employees or customers to keep me accountable for what I'm supposed to be doing.
I also am trying to weigh whether I want my days to be more solitary or more social. It's a tough call..... on personality tests I always fall smack in the middle of introvert and extrovert. I don't have one trait that dominates the other. This means I enjoy the company of people, I like being around people most of the time, but I also really treasure and need plenty of alone time. This factor doesn't help me a make a choice... it's a wash because I can't decide which extreme I would rather have as my norm. I want a combo, but I think these two paths would be on opposite ends of the spectrum in that regard.
I'm agonizing over this decision right now. I'm asking Nate to make the choice for me and just tell me what I should do. I'm thinking back to a blog post I wrote where I was agonizing over the idea of becoming a midwife. I laugh to remember all that anguish and fretting. My dreams of becoming a midwife have gone the way of the dinosaur, so who knows, maybe these ideas will do the same.
As always, one thing I'm keeping in the forefront of my mind is exactly how lucky I am to have the choice at all, to have the circumstances that allow me to follow my passion, and a partner who encourages me to do that. If you made it through this, do you guys have any thoughts? Does one of these things stand out as a clear front runner? Is there something I'm missing that I should consider?
I'm going to keep thinking. And I'm going to keep laying out my thoughts here. I will let you know if I have any revelations! xoxo