Selling One’s Soul for Silver

Selling One's Soul for Silver

by Tara Brannigan on December 20, 2011

This is a guest post by Tara Brannigan, who makes kick ass jewelry and juggles a very different day job. She is also an Another Passion alumni.

I live a dual life. By day I work in the game industry, writing content and developing strategies for running an online community. On the nights and weekends, I am a jeweler and maker-of-strange-things. I love my life and am incredibly fortunate to be able to pursue my passions. It took a while to get to here though, and I wanted to pass along something I learned along the way:

If you’re anything like me, your day job needs to be something you can feel good about, even if it’s not your dream job. You don’t need to have an ideal situation to pursue your passions, but don’t stay in a draining situation if there’s any way to avoid it.

A few years ago I had to make a decision: Keep my well-paying job and do something that I was no longer interested in, or take a big pay-cut and pursue something I really enjoyed. At the time I chose to keep the better paying position, reasoning that while it wasn’t what I’d prefer to work on, the higher salary meant I could buy more supplies and find my fulfillment through my jewelry work at home. Silver is increasingly expensive, and as jewelry making is not my full time job, the money for it generally comes out of my ‘fun money’ budget. Taking a lower paying job meant I’d have considerably less to spend on supplies.

After several years, I came to the realization that while I could afford to buy more supplies, tools and random components, I had traded away something far more critical: my motivation. I had a stack of silver sheet and miscellaneous supplies, but no motivation to actually make anything with it at the end of the day. I had allowed myself to get into a situation in which I was so drained, so frustrated and worn down that at the end of the day I was unable to create anything.

That’s not to say that I hated my job or the people I worked with. My team was a fantastic set of extremely passionate people that I loved working with. The game we were designing was incredibly fun and really exciting to be a part of. So what was the problem?

My day-to-day responsibilities were no longer energizing me. Instead, they’d become draining and increasingly stressful. Because I wasn’t excited about the work that consumed most of my day, I wasn’t able to find fulfillment elsewhere. I forced myself to continue to make things, but it was an arduously slow process, and my random moments of inspiration became few and far between. Making jewelry can require a great deal of concentration and patience, and when you’re stressed out or angry it can be near impossible to create anything of real quality.

Your day job eats up 8+ hours of every weekday. Don’t let those 8 hours drag you down if you have any other option. If you’re able to completely disassociate your motivation from your job, more power to you! I’ve never been able to fully disconnect the two, so for me finding a balance is critical to my success in pursuing my passions.

So where am I now? I took a big pay-cut so that I could get back to working with online communities. I was a bundle of anxiety in the weeks leading up to the decision, but ultimately decided that I needed the change. I am increasingly thankful that I made the leap.

Every day I come in and work on something that’s really exciting and meaningful to me. And as a result, my creativity and motivation for my passion for ‘Making Stuff!’ has exploded. I have less money to buy silver with, but I’ve gained far more in return.

Want more Tara? Visit her site, like her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter as @kindofstrange.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Harriete Estel Berman January 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I read this article earlier and thought you were right on the money.
There is a fine line between selling your heart and soul, and keeping enough of yourself, for yourself.

We should continue the conversation…I have your question from the MAG Symposium, still on my mind.


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