Six years ago, in a small meeting room in Kensington, I said to my line manager, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
I was working in a fast-paced brand strategy agency, where my role as a Fashion PR Director had me working at London, Paris and Milan fashion shows. Every week, I’d be at glamorous parties, award shows and store launches, dressing celebrities and working closely with a diverse mix of journalists and stylists from Vogue to the Financial Times.
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body” – botanical illustrator Charlotte Argyrou
At the time, it was the role I felt I was born to do. I found myself a niche managing guestlists for fashion shows across all four fashion capitals, including my dream destination – Paris Haute Couture. But finding this deskside niche coincided with my silent struggle to conceive a baby. Obeying doctors and a nutritionist, I dramatically cut down my alcohol and caffeine intake. I exercised more, though sometimes in place of dinner, and I started to shy away from the party scene or even from meeting new journalists that could help to expand my network and grow my career. I had a secret, and intended to keep it that way.
So I squashed my creativity. I willingly took on admin duties that others rejected, happily favouring invisibility. I kept my head down, enjoyed working hard and didn’t give much thought to creative pursuits that had once been my dream. Eventually, and maybe dramatically, I quit the job I enjoyed so much and was intrinsic to my identity. My husband and I bought a one way ticket to Greece to live by the sea. It was what my body needed, and eight weeks later I was pregnant.
CREATIVE BUSINESS OWNER
As this is a blog post, not an autobiography, we will fast-forward to today where I now run my illustration business around being an almost full-time stay-at-home mum. I found my creativity laying dormant beneath years of neglect, insecurity and doubt. And in 2018, I underwent a personal renaissance, smashing through that fear and confronting doubt head-on with courage.
Looking back to that meeting with my manager six years ago, I can clearly see that I have spent much of time since then feeling totally overwhelmed. I’ve let people and situations around me lead my decision-making and I’ve given very little regard for my own mindset or urges to create.
Taking time to read and self-study more in 2018 than in the previous 15 years has been essential to this renaissance. Excitingly, I’m starting to formulate my own conclusions about feelings of overwhelm, and particularly those feelings of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are relentlessly stressed-out.
Creativity is integral, and in my case, I can say with certainty is my antidote to fear and stress. And “Creative Living” is a term that can be broadly used to explore freedom beyond all the “should”s and self-imposed deadlines we cruelly cultivate. It doesn’t mean swapping television for oil-painting, or getting more piercings, or dressing in long, swishy skirts (though of course it can, as you wish). It’s about being intentional in your actions, rather than going through the motions of your life, and creating more joyful moments – all curated by you. It does not require money or possessions. Rather, it’s about making choices that serve you well.
Find more of my bird illustrations for sale here
JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP
I’ve started a Facebook group called “Creative Living for the Stressed-Out Soul“, where together we explore ideas to gain back more time in our days and use it wisely and mindfully. There are mini challenges, that each require no cash or grand commitment of time. You are welcome to join in with challenges that appeal to you and ignore those that don’t. There is space to air creative ideas in a small, friendly community of women who understand the limiting entities of time, energy and self-belief.
If this appeals to you, please come and find us on Facebook by searching “Creative Living for the Stressed-Out Soul”, or simply click here.