It’s very easy when you are working in the arts, where jobs are often short term, self-generated and poorly paid, to recognise that amount you have achieved and the skills you have developed.
Every now and then, in particular at a time like this, it is worthwhile looking at your skills and your achievements from a non-arts perspective. You have to be in the right frame of mind for this, otherwise you can end up like me a few weeks ago, where I essentially wrote – “I’ve wasted years of my life and achieved nothing!” But when you approach this with more detachment and self-love (!), you will recognise that you’ve actually achieved an awful lot and demonstrated a hugely valuable and varied set of skills.
Try to detach your skills from the immediate job that you do and describe them in transferable terms. For example, when I say I’m a theatre director to someone not in the theatre industry, the most common response is: “At which theatre?” To which I have to politely explain that I don’t direct a theatre building, I direct the productions that go into those theatres, which entails (amongst other things): recruiting and building a team; creating a shared vision for that team; empowering the team to make creative and innovative decisions; building an environment of trust, respect and support; managing budgets and timelines; liaising with multiple departments; managing expectations; managing people with sensitivity; interpreting text; identifying patterns and themes; managing a project from initial idea, through experimentation and testing, to delivery. I could go on and on. And when you list what you do like this, you suddenly realise just how much you are capable of and how valuable your skills are.
And what I’ve done there is just for directing. Most of us in the arts have many job titles on the go at once. Director, Actor, Dramaturg, Coach, Facilitator, Company Director, Workshop Leader, Social Media Manager, Poster Designer, Copywriter, Editor, Blogger.
So, at this time when the arts feel so undervalued and under-supported, just remember that you are incredibly highly skilled. What you do is incredibly difficult and requires a great deal of self-motivation and resilience. Take a moment to be proud of your skillsets and of your achievements.