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