The Frustrated Artist: Why Your Day Job Won't Fulfill You – Tips to Pursue Your Passion

Updated on December 31, 2017
gerimcclym profile image

Geri McClymont believes that to pursue your artistic passion is to live a life that is true to yourself and to the world.


Do you have an ongoing restlessness within you to express yourself artistically in some way?

Do you feel creativity stirring inside of you, bubbling and gradually rising to the surface like the forces within a volcano, eager to explode in self-expression?

Only that instead of being released and allowed to freely spill over, this creative force is corked, desperate for air and for life.

Are you a frustrated artist?

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

— Henry David Thoreau

The Misunderstood Artist

Artistic people are frequently misunderstood by others, including their own family members. Artists tend to think outside the box or just don’t see things the way most people do. Their unique or nonconventional ways of thinking can cause them to feel like misfits and to have difficulty finding their niche in school and in society.

They're often very sensitive to others’ feelings, and their sensitive nature also makes them more vulnerable to others’ criticism.

The misunderstood artist is often the black sheep in the family. He’s not particularly interested in making a ton of money or in otherwise following the status quo, and this may make him come across as flighty, lazy, or just plain out of touch with reality.

It can be difficult to make the right career choice.
It can be difficult to make the right career choice. | Source

The Career Choice

So how does the frustrated artist end up in a career he comes to despise?

Many of us choose professions based, at least in part, on pressure from our families.

Perhaps we wanted to pursue an artistic path but were discouraged by our parents or others when they told us we would end up as starving artists and needed to choose a “real career” or, at best, a more “practical” line of work.

So we chose accounting over music or psychology over painting. But we probably did have some degree of interest in the profession we ultimately pursued.

For others, the career choice was based on a whole-hearted interest in the profession. At the time.

Or perhaps we just made a really stupid career choice to begin with.

Regardless of why he chose the profession he did, the frustrated artist eventually feels increasingly stifled at work. It's as if his artistic gift is knocking on the door and he wants to answer but can’t because he has to attend to his clients or boss in his “real” job.

He may not know what the name of his specific artistic gift is, but he hears the persistent knock on the door and darn, he wants to answer it!

Are you a frustrated artist?

See results

Why Do We Stay in a Job We Hate?

Often the answer to this question is obvious. We need that steady income because we have bills to pay. In some cases we have a family to support and we're the primary breadwinner. The kids are going to college and we have to save for retirement.

In essence, we stay in a job we no longer enjoy to satisfy our basic needs for survival and security.

Motivational Speech by Shia LaBeouf

The Inner Voice Won't Be Quieted

So the artist’s gift gets buried under his “life.” And he forgets about it, or at least tries to. He tells it to shut up or to come back later.

Yet like the larva bubbling up in the volcano or the persistent knock on the door, the artistic gift won’t be subdued. It begs, no, demands to be acknowledged.

It will haunt you, disturb you, not let you rest until you recognize it, validate it, allow it to live and breathe.

At some point, the frustrated artist needs to make a decision. This means either heed the inner pleading for self-expression and resolve the inner conflict, or continue to live in torment.

Hanging pictures of your photography around your house will inspire you to devote more time to your craft.
Hanging pictures of your photography around your house will inspire you to devote more time to your craft. | Source

Pursuing Your Artistic Passion

Once you resolve that you'll listen to your inner voice, begin by taking small steps, especially if your artistic talent has been dormant for a long period of time and you're at a loss as to how to even begin to revive it.

Here are some specific ways to get started:

  • Surround yourself with your artistic work. Place photographs you've taken or poems you've written on your office desk and around your home to inspire you and as constant reminders to focus on your artistic talent.

  • Minimize your possessions. Less distractions in your house enables you to better focus on your artistic endeavors. Sell your stuff or put it into storage.

  • Simplify your life. Make less complicated meals and get rid of the television so you have more time to devote to your craft.

  • Take good care of yourself. This includes eating well, exercising, and getting sufficient rest. A healthy body and mind will equip you to pursue your passion with everything you have!

  • Go online. Find out about local art shows, photography exhibits, musicals, or whatever your artistic interest may be. Carve time out of your schedule to attend these.

  • Join a photography club, guitar class, or whatever suits your artistic gift.

  • Start talking to people who share your passion and are pursuing it. Ask them for tips on how to move forward. Join online forums, see what people out there are doing to express their creativity in your art.

  • If you can, live in your mother’s basement for a while or take in a roommate to cut expenses.

  • Read books about people who have reinvented themselves. In many cases, they've left high paying jobs to pursue a hidden talent they always wanted to develop. While you may not be ready to leave your 40 hour-a-week job and lunge into your passion full time, the examples of these people’s lives will show you that it's possible to eventually make your passion your full-time job.

Don't Be Disappointed If Not Everybody's on Board with You

To your disappointment, you may not sense the support of your family or friends as you begin this new uncharted phase of your life, especially if you're focusing on your artistic talent full-time.

In many cases, they don’t know what to say because they're not artistic people and simply can't understand your sudden course of action.

In other cases, they feel uncomfortable watching you walk away from a stable job into an uncertain arena and are concerned for your financial security.

In a few cases, they may wish they had the courage you have to chase after their own artistic endeavors.

Rather than allow their lack of support to derail you from your newfound path, allow it to strengthen your resolve to pursue your passion and to propel you to even greater heights!

Regardless of whether or not your family and friends encourage you, it's important that you surround yourself with people who do understand your course of action and will be there to support you.

A ballerina on stage.
A ballerina on stage. | Source

If you're a frustrated artist, you can cease your frustration by allowing your artistic passion to develop rather than trying to shut it down. Start with small steps and gradually expand by taking greater steps. Your frustration will be replaced with contentment and joy as you begin the journey towards realizing your full potential as an artist.

And to those who want to encourage a frustrating artist, offer your support by sending him notes of encouragement to affirm his artistic gift, going to his shows or performances, and following him on social media sites.

Maybe even let him stay in your basement for a while.

© 2015 Geri McClymont


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 2 years ago

      aesta1: It sounds like you're often on the go but I'm glad you still find time to devote yourself to your art work. I can only imagine it makes you a happier person :) Thank you for stopping by.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I try to find time to do some art work wherever we are. I just find it hard to bring my materials. If I do, I give them up once we move to the next assignment. Still, as you've said if we are disciplined, we always find the time.

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 2 years ago

      RTalloni: Yes, often all they need is encouragement to pursue their artistic passion. Often is seems like there is no possible way, given all the demands of life ...but I agree that if they really want to, they can find a way to do it. Thank you for your comments.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      A neat read all round. Creative people can find ways to do what they do somehow, someway. Some just need encouragement to be brave!

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 2 years ago

      What a great comment, Sally. I can relate to what you say, especially to how enjoyable it is to have the privilege of engrossing oneself in one's craft. I love it! Thanks for stopping by.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      This subject is very close to my heart. The desire to create is one feeling which should always be nurtured in young and in old age. I know that I find myself laying awake thinking about how best to approach the next artistic project. It is at times all consuming but oh so deliciously enjoyable.

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 2 years ago

      Thank you for your encouraging words, Ms. Dora. I'm glad the article was useful to you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Really good, sensible suggestions. Thank you very much for sharing and creating awareness of the artist's frustrations. Some things to consider both for the artist and the supporter.