This isn't a post about a show. This is a post about how things are for me right now and where I am going in the future.
I've had a rough summer. Most vendors I've spoken to have said that this season has been incredibly slow for them compared to other years. Some of them attribute that to it being an election year, which can cause people to hold onto their cash a little tighter. I hadn't experienced "money stress" before this summer. I've made enough from shows to pay all of my bills and have a little extra spending money for the last year, but these past couple of months I've been juuuust scraping by. And it is incredibly stressful.
The "money stress" is nearly to an end, though. I just have to get through paying my bills this week. Then, in September, I have three shows that I know are great shows. I just keep telling myself that I only have to be dirt poor for one more week! It's not even that I mind being poor - I could be fine having almost zero spending money. But when it's completely unknown how much money I will be making every month, the fear that I won't be able to pay bills is very real.
Now, if you don't already know this about me, I'll tell you: I have general anxiety disorder, it is absolutely a real thing, I'm on meds to help manage it, and I'm able to keep it pretty well under control most of the time (I'm also very open about this because it's misunderstood a lot). Anxiety and stress are two completely different feelings. But being under a lot of stress makes my anxiety more and more difficult to manage, and I've been in a bit of an emotional spiral lately.
Even though the crazy stressful portion of the season is coming to an end, it has been hard enough on me that I know I can never go through it again. I don't personally know any other artists who make their money solely from selling their work who don't have spouses to back them up, someone who can help them out with the bills if things get rough (I'm sure they're out there though!). I have awesome parents who give me love and support and have even helped me out with bills from time to time, but I don't want to have to rely on them every summer to get me through a rough patch. So I've decided to step back a little.
I've already done 12 shows in 2016, and I have at least 7 or 8 to go. Once this season is over, I'm going to get a low-stress job at a coffee shop or something, get a dog, and limit myself to one good show a month. I've been working 90+ hour weeks all year. It's fun work, but I don't sleep or eat enough or very well. My stress level is only climbing and I feel pressure to succeed all of the time. I love the challenge and the adventure of it, but it's taken a huge toll on my health, mentally and physically. I might work back up to more shows eventually. But for now, I need to start making my well-being a priority.
I know a lot of people admire me for taking the leap into being a full-time artist. It's fun and crazy and pretty scary. I love doing it. But I can't keep it up. I've said before that I keep waiting to burn out because I'm working myself so hard. I don't think that I've burnt out, I've just become emotionally exhausted from managing it all. Try not to be disappointed in me or think of this as giving up. I'm trying to move forward into a more balanced way of life. Don't worry, I'll still be making and selling tons of work, just under slightly less pressure.