Ann Marie Coolick
Many of you don't know this about me, but for the past 13 years I worked part-time in the DC area in a completely different field. I called it the "other job." Countless times I watched my kids all day then pulled a 10 hour night-shift. I was like Jekyll and Hyde working two jobs: one as an analyst, the other as an artist. This week I finally quit the "other job."
For the past year and a half I was on sabbatical from the "other job." In fact, every time I had a child (three!), I was able to take 6 months to a year off. During those times, I focused on my family while also painting my tail off. At some point during this time in and out of the office, my studio practice took off. So why did it take so long to quit the "other job"?! I can't tell you how many times I told friends and families that I was done working nights, and how many times they asked me if I was going back. The "other job" was the definition of a safety net. Most people would die to have a stable and flexible job like I had. It gave me the ability to slowly become a full-time artist, without the complete pressure of failure. I finally told myself that if I didn't quit now, I never would. I've sold almost 80 paintings this year and have been able to pay for my kid's school, groceries, and activities, but the fear of not knowing what the future holds or if people would continue to support my art kept me uncertain. I feared the unknown.
I'm incredibly grateful for the "other job", and although it wasn't a perfect fit for me, it is where I met my husband, where I learned how to write, and where I learned how to be professional. I learned new tradecraft that had been completely foreign to me, and I was afforded the financial ability to maintain a studio space for the past 13 years.
This week was huge because I finally found the courage to resign. I was at a crossroads, my sabbatical was set to end in November and it was now or never. I knew this day would eventually come where a decision would need to be made and I prayed that I would be freely capable of making it from a financially sound and non-emotional standpoint.
My message to young artists is this: don't lose hope if you need another job, even if it is for a decade. You will learn new things you wouldn't have otherwise. As long as you consistently work on your art with passion and patience while continually planing for the future, you can realize your dreams too.
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