Sonia Hadj Said
There you are. Sitting in that small depressing room that you somehow made comfy. You roll your eyes as you check the time and realise there is only one hour left before going to work.
But you don’t call being a bartender, a waitress, a sale assistant, or a receptionist your work. Right? You go to a party and replying to that annoying question about what you do (which should be totally forbidden to ask!) say: ‘I’m an artist.’ They look at you impressed because it’s cool to be an artist. Or has that changed? And can you still call yourself one when it’s not the way you pay your bills? Has London basically screwed all the artists over or has it challenged us to choose?
The city challenges us to choose between playing a bohemian lifestyle or settling into one of those media jobs. Suddenly all of the fancy names come out and everyone is lost. Should I become a content writer? I mean, it still says ‘writer’ so how is it different?
Accepting that there is no other choice might just help you survive
I’m sorry, but it is. A creative person will not handle a corporate job and that’s what those job titles are. You can try and will feel like suffocating. Suddenly, you don’t have time for your creative self, you have to dress in a certain way and ask that bloody Generation Y question: ‘why am I here?’
You’re here because you want to become an artist living in London. But as there are too many people and not enough houses, not enough jobs, not enough space on a stupid street… there are too many artists wanting to make it big.
You’ve seen them. The ones that caved in to office jobs and complain, but stay. Because it feels good not to be paid by an hour and to look human while working. And the weekends off? That’s a luxury everyone wants.
And there are the others, still holding onto hope. The girl pouring your coffee, beer, smiling away because she is living the life. The tough life that reminds her every day of who she is. So make sure to choose and hold on to that choice. It’s okay to cry with a bottle of wine while you think about your friends going to that big event while you have to pull yet another night shift.
Yes, it’s difficult to be so patient in London, but accepting that there is no other choice might just help you survive. Apply for those internships, competitions, go to gigs, use every chance you get – after all, you are in London for a reason. Because London is a home to the bravest artists! Enjoy the thought, keep creating, but remember one thing – don’t depend on art. No one can afford it. Do that shitty job that makes you miserable, but keeps you afloat and reminds you of what you really want to be doing.
Don’t depend on art, but don’t give up on art either, please. The world wants you. It’s just a little shy.
Banner image: Henrietta Harris