Fraud-y Feelings Surrounding a Career Shift into the Creative Community

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I absolutely hate having a defined career title, especially a title that comes with baggage.  After graduating law school, and then passing the bar, I could call myself an attorney and would introduce myself as such. I found that the title either came with intimidation, snarky comments, or others being flat out impressed. The latter was probably because others were surprised I was an attorney... which is a whole different issue. However, I worked really, really hard for that title and career path. 

You know how testing just comes easily for some people? Not this girl. Law school is nothing but a series of extremely intimidating tests, throw in a little bit of the Socratic Method, ending with a massive bar exam. Not to mention, law school is nothing but a giant competition amongst classmates. About one year into law school I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to practice law. But this girl is not a quitter, and always up for a challenge, so I stuck it out - which was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. 

I carry my “Esq.” at the end of my name with pride; like a badge of honor; despite not having the slightest clue as to what I wanted to do with my law degree, if anything at all. After law school, I took a job with the state, practicing law. I also got into the art of calligraphy, right at the time that Instagram and social media were going off the wall. Looking back on it, my calligraphy wasn’t the greatest – but I had passion! I came up with a logo and had a website made. I made a few financial decisions on how I would price my services. Then what? I’m all of the sudden a “calligrapher”?

<INSERT ALL OF THE FRAUD-Y FEELINGS HERE>. I was so incredibly torn as to how to put myself out into the event industry world as a calligrapher. Did I have enough experience to be a calligrapher? Wasn’t I just a novice? I didn’t have a degree on my office wall calling me a calligrapher. I didn’t pass some crazy exam that made me a calligrapher. There was no hazing. I was just little ole’ me, in a sea of creatives on the internet, slowly raising my hand in the most indefinite manner like, “hey guys, I do calligraphy” – but, I’d never called myself a calligrapher because I felt like such a fraud using that title. I felt as though I was tricking people into thinking I was something that I wasn’t; or that I was somehow being an impostor. I certainly didn’t go through the pains that I went through like those that I did to call myself an attorney.

I reached out to a local stationer, who is now a dear friend of mine, and asked her if I could come introduce myself and talk about my calligraphy services. I met with her on my lunch from my attorney-day-job. We chatted about our personal lives; we chatted about the wedding industry, and all the things in between. She called me a calligrapher several times and I walked out of that meeting with so much confidence, I can’t even tell you. Not that I felt like I had her business in the bag, but, because holy crap she gave me the title that I was so desperately finding ways to justify giving to myself.

Is it crazy that I searched for validation from others in order to void those fraud-y feelings? Going from the legal world, which is male-dominated, and competitive in nature, to the creative industry, is a big enough shift as is… and I think that my experience with this “title” issue is a prime example of the drastic differences between the two different worlds I work in.

It took a while, but my confidence grew. My calligraphy speaks for itself. My lettering style has grown with practice and repetition, and my craft has flourished. At the start of my business, I did not have the courage to give myself the title of a calligrapher, which I now give myself grace for.  I was nervous and pretty much had PTSD from law school if I’m being honest with myself.  Now, I basically scream it: “I’m a calligrapher. I’m an attorney. And I’m a boss. Let’s do this.” 

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Claire White is a thirty-something year old Nashville native. She’s an attorney and calligrapher. That’s right, using both parts of the brain.  She currently practices law in the public sector and Claire owns White Ink Calligraphy, providing calligraphy services nationwide.