Something funny happens when people find out you are an independent creator — someone who works full-time in pursuit of a creative endeavour. Someone like a writer, a musician, or an artist.
The funny thing that happens is that people start using words like “brave” and “passionate” to describe you. Let me tell you why this is not necessarily the case, especially from the aforementioned creator’s perspective.
I guess from a purely objective point of view, a creator may indeed be called “passionate”. She has chosen to work on something she likes, as opposed to doing something because it makes her money that she can use to pay rent and buy food. Saying “I don’t care if I am poor” does take a lot of courage and and at least a little stupidity.
On the other hand, I don’t think any artist wholeheartedly goes for being broke with only passion or courage guiding their decisions. They do it because they have no choice. They cannot keep doing what they were doing before their art began to assert itself. The artist is often no more passionate about their art than a cow is passionate about being a cow. They are being true to themselves, and that is a valuable thing. But more often than not, artists don’t feel brave.
It is possible to be a passionate salesman who works at a car showroom and gets a salary. Passion isn't necessarily an art thing. It is a quality available to anyone who works anywhere.
I will tell you what does seem like a brave thing to me though. It would be really brave of me to commit to a life where I did a non-creative 9-to-5 job for a monthly salary. It would take an immense amount of courage for me to deny that I need to write stories every day of the week just so I can remain human. I would need balls the size of pineapples to convince myself that a life of financial security is more fulfilling than a life of creative uncertainty. But I can’t. I don’t have that kind of strength.
I have not decided to be creative because I am brave and passionate. I have done so because I have no choice. This may seem like a technicality, given that many people look upon people like me with envy and wish they could make the same choices in life. But if you are someone with artistic tendencies who can do the 9-to-5 drill without going insane and losing your sense of humanity, know that you are stronger and braver then me, any day of the workweek.
There was a time when this bothered me. I used to say in job interviews that I am a "team player" and all that. Corporate employers love to hear that. (That was a free job interview tip. You're welcome!)
Eventually however, I started being more honest. I have been on job interviews recently where I have said outright that I work better alone. That having a team slows me down. Need I describe the awkward silences that follow?
But it never felt brave or passionate. It just felt honest. And I am happier for it.