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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Wildly Pointing Compass

In the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow possesses a quirky compass that seems horribly broken. It points in all sorts of different directions but hardly ever due north. It's only later that we learn that the compass actually isn't broken.  Instead of pointing north it points to the object of the holder's heart's desire.

I can identify with that feeling of my compass pointing wildly in all kinds of directions. And I do know, without a doubt, that my strongest passion (heart's desire) is creativity and the arts. But many creative sorts will tell you that one has to sometimes make concessions in order to keep bread on the table. I was employed full time until a little more than a year ago. I worked as an admin assistant and volunteer coordinator for a non-profit, but ended up having to leave that position (I was headed for the mental ward of the hospital because the job was so out of control).

 The good news is I have been collecting unemployment, and on the side managing art, writing and a pet silhouette business for a friend. The other good news is I love being self-employed. Life, until recently, has been so much more sane. The down side is a) no health insurance b) having to jump through hoops in order to keep the unemployment c) having way too many areas of focus d) and an highly volatile variable income.

It's overwhelming, and with my unemployment going to the next tier, I had to go in for more evaluations which is enough to make anyone want to jump off a bridge. I've reached the breaking point.  As they say, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to change."  If I want to get unstuck, I have to be a change agent.

I have always felt like a square peg in a round hole. The traditional work force is not for me....but it's the reliable income I miss.  I do plan to continue looking for jobs, but here in Hickory, NC we have the 8th highest unemployment rate in NC. Employment prospects don't look too promising.  And though the papers report that unemployment is down slightly, I also learned from one of the counselors at the unemployment office, that this is a false reading. People who have been unemployed for a long time are settling for lesser jobs...and it might not be what they are qualified for or provide the money they need.

So much for the unemployment rate decreasing. So, with the job market looking bleak, I've been checking into other possible career paths.. Yes, I do plan to continue writing and making artistic creations on the side.  I've visited a career counselor, am checking into a lateral certificate program for teaching... But that means going back to school to pick up courses I might need in order to qualify for the English program. And there seem to be divided opinions with those I spoke with as to whether there will actually be teaching jobs in those fields when I am done with that program.

I have strong entrepreneurial tendencies, so today I met with a guy from our local community college's small business center to run some ideas by him.  One is related to the pet silhouette business I've been trying to manage...but it has some issues...was kind of a mess when I assumed the reigns. The other is the possibility of putting much more energy and time into my art business which focuses on creative reuse. Since this is a "green" business, the man who met with me is going to check to see if there are any grants for such a business. The bottom line takes money to make money and there isn't really any free "dough" to be had. I will most likely need to borrow some money to make more.  Area experts are saying that with the local economy the way it is, entrepreneurship is a good route to take. So magic compass, spin and spin and let me know where you land, then help me chart a direction.

How about you.  Is your compass pointing due North or spinning wildly?

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