Why I Refuse to Trade my Creativity for Safety


Above: Paris American Academy design school, Rue Saint Jacques, Paris

I think I always realised that creativity was my "thing" but I never acknowledged it or proclaimed it out aloud until recently.

A few years ago I had this constant questioning in my head. Why wasn't I content? I was happy but not in every way. I had an amazing home, wonderful husband, supportive family and friends and... a safe job with a stable income. But something was missing and I felt it on every level. I had traded my passion for safety and I was hating it.

I was working in finance for god's sake. How had I ended up here? Well, I knew why, I had never validated my creative skill. I had always thought it wasn't worth anything. But spending a few years in a highly analytical, logical and exact world had made me crave the fun and freedom I felt when I was creating. I knew at this point I needed my creativity to survive.

At first I thought I could solve this by assigning the creative stuff to the "hobbies" box in my head. Those piano lessons, craft and decorating classes I took were quickly compartmentalised and given a label coz they weren't "real", they didn't bring in any income and no one took them seriously. If I met someone new, I would talk about my job or what I had studied at university, now that was what society valued right?

Well that notion was turned upside down when I took a summer off to study interior design in Paris. I was reminded that my world had become too small. In a matter of days, I had found more like-minded people than I had in the last 10 years and that both pleased and bothered me! Paris is a city that values its creative types and I needed to immerse myself in that. I remember this one day, before school, I was standing in front of the mirror in our (very tiny) Parisian apartment and I saw myself again, like really truly saw myself, without the stress, obligations and time sucking duties that burdened me back home. I was free to do what I loved and I loved that.

That was two years ago and since then I have drastically changed my thought process, although I continue to struggle with the fear and challenges associated with living my creative life.

I quit my job a year and a half ago and have been doing freelance design work ever since. My training in numbers tells me that what I am doing is stupid as I struggle to get the cash flow I need but I realise it is early days and I am determined to persist with it. My heart however has been so much happier and I feel the heavy weight of the monotonous rat race has been lifted from my shoulders. I think time has slowed down as well. The same way it did when I was in Paris and that is so important to me.

Zoe Strawbridge is the founder of Gorjo Designs, a virtual design consultancy for real people with real lives. Zoe is passionately committed to making great design more accessible and less pretentious. Her job? To take your vision and make it visible. Whether you're after interior or graphic design, a new logo or a new lounge room, Zoe has a gorgeous design solution. When Zoe's not designing she can be found hunting and gathering design inspiration from city to country town.

Connect with Zoe at gorgodesigns.com, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter