No Gigs ? Just Chill (what I've learned from not having a job)
Photo by Sallie Harrison
As a costume designer I don’t work all the time. Well, I guess I kind of work all the time because I’m always nurturing my work, working on my portfolio, going to events and networking to get my next job. I’m just not working in the classic way : I don’t get paid everyday.
Sometimes lots of projects come at the same time and sometimes nothing is happening. This can feel like a real roller coaster ! When a quiet phase lasts for a long time it can be hard to keep being confident in your work, especially if the people around you don’t understand your field.
Inactivity and being jobless are often seen as a real negative thing in our society. Suddenly you get this look that says “you’re not useful anymore”. Some people look down at you and don’t hesitate to ask you how you’re paying your rent or if you’re giving up on your career. Others will say that you’ve always been a dreamer and you should get a “real” job. I think these people are just expressing their own insecurity.
I’ve been living this off and on times really bad in the past. I was suddenly getting depressed if I didn’t have a gig planned because it felt like I didn’t have any purpose anymore. When I moved to London last month, I knew I’ll get a quiet time. People in Paris would probably not call me anymore because I was just two hours away, and I didn’t know anybody in London yet. Now I’m starting to get some work and it feels great but I know it’s a process. It takes time to understand how things work in each place.
These experiences taught me a lot. Like a lot of things that make you grow, it’s hard first and then you get to know and understand yourself and it gets better.
What I've learned is that I’ve chose this way of living and that I’m happy about it. It goes with who I am and I would not be happier if I had a 9 to 5 job.
WORK YOU LIFE. LIVE YOUR WORK
As an artist, you life is your work and your work is your life. If I’m home instead of being on set or in rehearsals, I’m still working. I wake up early, I have a schedule and I get busy working on my life. I have to update my portfolio, go to exhibitions, meet people and look for new productions. I also work on being healthy because I could not working on a set if I was not in shape (trust me, working in a costume department is physical).
THINK, LIVE, CREATE
Society tells you that if you’re not getting paid with what you’re doing, then it means that you’re doing nothing. This is so wrong. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to get a job just so you can say you’re doing something. Living, creating and thinking can be work. And this is sometimes much more useful to our society than a 9 to 5 job. Don’t let them make you feel ashamed.
Not having rules and time schedule can make you feel insecure. Most of us have been raised to obey. You grow up obeying to your teacher, to your parents, to a priest and to society. From your very first days of life, you learn what you can and cannot do. You also grow up understanding that people will expect things from you. Everything around us is made to maintain us as being obedient children. It takes time to overcome this things that we’ve learned because it’s very deeply written in our lives. Eventually someday you unlearn things and decide to make your own rules.
Doing nothing feels great and it’s healthy. When you work as a crew people on a shoot, you work under lots of pressure and crazy deadlines. Sometimes you work with very demanding people and you want to give everything because you truly believe in a project. You sleep, eat, live for the film you’re making. Nobody can do that for 12 months non stop -unless you take drugs and then you’re just going to stop all of this soon cause you won’t be alive anymore. We can’t feel ashamed of not working all the time because our jobs are not usual jobs.
Having quiet times can really open your mind. Don’t fill up this precious time with easy entertainment and lazy vacations. You should do it during your recovery time for sure, but don’t fill up your empty time just because you’re to scared to face yourself. When you are alone and bored you can’t avoid your fear. Accepting and adopting your insecurity is painful and it takes time. Eventually you’ll learn to understand it and get to know yourself. I truly believe that knowing your weaknesses is the most important skill in order to work in an environment as demanding as the entertainment industry.
TAKE A STEP BACK
Remember that nothing is permanent. With social medias, Instagram accounts full of beautiful designed lives and podcasts that teach you how-to-get-a-six-figure-salary-from-your-bed, we tend to feel very frustrated with our own lives. We feel like we are never doing enough. Maybe we just need to take a step back, be patient and faithful in our abilities. Things come and things go. You can control what you think and how you’re acting but you can’t control luck and occasion. Work hard, be patient, it will work out.