What The Hell Happened To My Life?

I’m having a midlife crisis. This is my second midlife crisis, actually. The first one happened right after Cassie was born. Now it’s happening again with Sam.

What’s my problem? Before my first child came along, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was 33, had two degrees in communications, and had never once gone after any of the things I dreamed of doing when I was in high school. Pathetic, isn’t it?

When I was a teen, I knew I wanted to be an artist. Hell, back then, I was an artist. I drew all the time, I had no lack of ideas. Everybody who knew me knew I could draw. I was even voted most artistic in my senior class. Problem was, at some point I sort of lost my way. It started even before I graduated from high school, to be honest. Even as my peers were proclaiming me most artistic, I was slowly letting my artistic interests fade away. I wanted to draw and paint, but I didn’t pursue it the way I should have. I should have taken art classes in high school. Instead, I took band. I should have drawn every spare minute of the day. Instead, I pissed away the days by doing other things, like watching TV, goofing off and hanging out at the mall. That wasn’t to say I still wasn’t creative. By the time I was sixteen, I had gotten heavily into fantasy and science fiction costuming. But my real passion, art, just got left in the dust to wither and die.

It didn’t help that my dad insisted I could never make a living as an artist. I wanted to go to art school. Dad insisted that I major in something “useful” instead. Since I hadn’t spent the last four years of school preparing for art school by taking art classes and building up a portfolio, guess who won that argument? And the end result? A bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communications, two pieces of paper that I’ve had almost no use for in the last 15 years. Yep, six years of my life and several thousands of Dad’s money devoted to a subject I really couldn’t care less about.

To be fair, it’s not Dad’s fault. He also swore my sister Carolyn could never make a living as an actress, but she fought for what she wanted, and she prepared for it by taking acting classes every year in high school and by being heavily involved in school musicals, dance productions, and the chorus. She showed Dad up front what she could do and what she wanted and then she went to college and pursued her dream. It is entirely besides the point that now at 33 she is getting a new degree in something else – physical therapy – because making it as an actor in New York is almost damned impossible. What matters is she pursued what she wanted. I didn’t. Carolyn at least has several years of theater performances and a production company to show for it, even if she is now changing course.

So here I am, mother of two and still wishing I could be an artist. I haven’t been completely without my artistic successes. I have a tiny portfolio of very nice 3D and 2D graphics. Too bad I only complete two or three pieces a year though. I do have a couple of animated cartoons done, the only instances where I had any use for my degree in broadcast communications. I’ve even got a couple of nice colored pencil drawings floating around the house. But none of this is enough to make me feel like I can stand up and shout “I’m an artist!”

To be an artist, I would have to draw every day. I don’t do that. To be an artist, I would have to turn out a prolific amount of work. Do I even have time for that? To be an artist, I would need to do any number of things – take classes, enter shows, submit work for publication in a magazine or online gallery – that I simply don’t do. Why the hell not?

Because I don’t know how. I haven’t been practicing this shit and at the age of 37 I know no more about being an artist than I did at the age of 12, which was probably the last time I took my drawing seriously.

I’ve got to change something. I’ve got to go from being the stay at home mom to being the artist again, because honestly folks, I feel like I’m dying here. I am not suited to just being a mom and I know it. I’ve got to have something more. I recently bought myself a subscription to ImagineFX magazine. Paid $150 to have it shipped to me from the UK every month. It’s a gorgeous mag, full of 2D and 3D digital fantasy and sci fi artwork. I’m reading every issue from cover to cover, devouring every detail inside. And it’s killing me, because every artist published in that magazine is between the age of 16 and 24.

What the hell happened to me? I’m 37. Is it too late to change things now?

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. No, it is not too late to change! My story is much like yours, only I always longed to be a writer. Yet, here I am, rushing towards forty, with nothing to show for it but two very nice teenagers and a semi-clean house (depending on the day of the week). So, pick up your pencils, and DRAW girl! I picked up my keyboard and have published a couple of articles. It isn’t much, I know, but it is a start.

    I enjoy your blog very much! Keep writing!

  2. Hi Helen,
    it’s never too late as long as you’re alive. Right now you have your hands full but start making plans–look into art classes that would jive with your schedule (once Sam lets you have one…), find websites that cater to art students, find your old art supplies–I still have my original pastel pencils that I had in high school…
    I work as a figure model and my students are all ages–many are retired and returning to their first love: drawing or discovering a new version: painting or watercolors. They’re not looking to become the next Grandma Moses/Picasso, they just look forward to the pleasure of drawing–and many of them are amazing! Your talent is not dead, only dormant because you have a lot on your plate but never doubt that it’s there–inside you–waiting for you to play with it again. Right now you can still get some practice in by keeping a small drawing pad at hand to draw anything that catches your eye (the cat sleeping, Cassie dancing, Sam napping etc). Also, perhaps you can show Cassie how to draw and the two of you can have a ball just trying.
    Keep on keepin’ on!

  3. I know I’ll get through this stage. Hopefully, in another month or two, Sam will settle down and sleep better. Meanwhile, Cassie is starting preschool soon. I plan to take the morning hours that she’s at school and use them for drawing time. That ought to help, if I can hang on that long 😉

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