I thought it was about time I shared the story of how I started my creative business. From moving through anxiety to where I am today. Starting a business is no easy feat and I believe in sharing our stories as small business owners and creatives. It gives you a window into our world, which lets face it, we all love a peep into.
It started with a panic attack, though I didn’t know what was happening to me at the time other than I thought I was dying.
The first thing I felt was a sudden drop in energy and a tingling sensation all down my body. In a split second it felt like I was going to collapse. I was sweating, dizzy and suddenly scared for my life.
Then the panic started.
I had never experienced panic attacks or anxiety so I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was a confident bubbly woman with a pretty straight forward, comfortable life. Why would this be happening to me?
That day I left work after breaking down with my team leader because I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack. As soon as I left the building the panic stopped. My dad was waiting in the car and drove me to the doctors. I got there just to be told that it was “probably a panic attack”. I was given no real information on how that could have happened and why It came on so suddenly.
The trigger for the panic was a culmination of things. From working in environment that didn’t nourish my soul to having a bit of a traumatic experience at the dentist. The previous week I’d had a failed root canal. The dentist tried his hardest to finish the job, he even brought another dentist in but it wasn’t happening. They put a temporary filling in and sent me on my way till the following week to see how to proceed.
The pain from the failed root canal had me in such a weary state all weekend. By the time It came to the next appointment I just wanted the tooth out, to be done with the pain. We all know how bad tooth ache can be, well failed root canals when they have been wrestling around in your mouth are intense.
After the tooth was out the effect of having that much intense pain stayed with me in the form of anxiety and panic attacks. It was almost as if I had left my young care free self and adulthood had kicked in. Being quite a sensitive soul and a big thinker panic and anxiety are not a good combination. I got a few more panic attacks and to this day I still occasionally feel that tingling sensation like I’m about to collapse. I made sure to equip myself with self care practices and tools to be able to manage the anxiety and panic when it flared up. It includes of a whole load of lovely self talk and telling myself everything is okay.
The thing I did notice though was that the anxiety seemed to flare up every time I went into work. The tingling sensations would come back and I would feel like I was going to faint. I would have to take myself to the bathroom to calm down.
It’s time to leave
After being off work a couple of times for illness I ended up being laid off for “lack of attendance”. Although I was gutted at the time, my “stats” were great and I was hitting my targets. I knew there was something about that work environment that was killing my soul.
I had stopped wearing colourful patterned clothes to conform with the people at work. I was in the rat race of 9-5 working and although the pay was the best I’d had it clearly was not working for my nervous system. The stats and targets, the amount of people in one office and the never ending phone calls (of course, it was a call centre) we’re all indications that this was NOT the job for me.
Break down to break through
I was a creative bubbly woman in a call centre office amongst a sea of grey. It was vanilla, repetitive, stats and target driven and had no soul.
I felt extremely out of place.
At university I had studied Creative Arts & Events Management and had been around visual artists, photographers, musicians and decor crews. Those were the spaces that inspired me and sparked a love of interactive experiences. Id spent the last four years galivanting around and working at festivals as decor crew, stage management and other jobs. Being submersed in the events industry meeting a whole array of colourful people with incredible skills and creative talent. Of course call centre work was a shock to my system.
After university I had been on a soul searching mission trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Though working the festivals was great, my partying needed to settle down and I wanted to look after my health and wellbeing. What I needed to figure out was what work did I really want to do and what would I have a lot of energy for. I had never really had a plan of sorts, I just cruised around from festival to music events, partying, exploring and submerging myself in creative settings.
I knew that I wanted to live life on my own terms, to create something for myself that nurtured my creativity and thirst for learning. (see how far I’ve nurtured my creativity here). It had to be something where I could connect with others, learn all things business but also allow me to express myself.
It had to be something flexible that would allow me to have bursts of productivity but also allow me time to rest and play. I live life connected to honouring my cyclical nature as a woman and that means working cyclically in my business too. Making meaning, having deep connections and owning our humanness in life is are my biggest values. It was important for me create that for myself and the people I worked with.
I knew it was possible, I was seeing people all over the internet traveling around the world so I knew I could do something similar. What I needed to find was my niche.
How could I create that for myself?
It started with a cleaning job something I could do whilst listening to all the podcasts about mindset work and business. It was something I could do straight away with the connections I already had. Start off small and go from there.
I split my time, half cleaning, half working online and eating up everything I could about social media management and how to run a business. Learning about other creatives and virtual assistants with what products and services they were offering and also, how they were marketing themselves. This involved a whole heap of learning strategies as well as planning and organisation tools to start to cultivate a healthy work balance. To be able to build goals for myself and see my progress.
I suddenly had drive and commitment to cultivating a work life balance that was on my terms. After my adventures at arts based events I knew that my business in the end needed to be a creative one, there was no way that creativity wasn’t going to be a part of it. I needed to learn all the small biz tips and creative practices I could to create a business that brought me joy and play.
Little did I know that what I was creating for myself would fit flexibly around becoming a mother (more on that to come).
Thank you for reading about the start of my journey into running a creative business you wonderful human. In part two I will share my business journey post motherhood as it all ramped up from there. Think of this as the first year of learning before diving right into running a creative business online as an artist and virtual assistant.
Keep your eyes peeled for part two!
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