James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

80: The honeymoon is over

The Fieldwork: The honeymoon is over

I’m not even gonna front, structuring my work day has been really hard lately. As I’ve been self-employed for a little bit, I’ve realized that it’s stupidly easy to feel like you need to immerse yourself in an endless sea of work. Stopping leads to that nagging voice of anxiety, pestering you that time is money and standing still is lost hustle.

I was having this conversation with a few friends over wine and we were lamenting about the guilt of not working and the strange feeling in your gut when you declare “I am done for the day.” Are you really though? Come on bruh, are you serious? Let’s be honest, there’s something else you could be doing with this free time.

I’ll admit there’s something I miss from having a day job—a clear separation between a mode of working and being done for the day. Once you close Slack, shut down your computer and leave the desk, work is done. When you are working for yourself, work becomes this amorphous cloud of “could-bes”.

“I could be working on this thing while taking myself out to lunch.”

“I could be writing down this collection of thoughts into an observation that leads to a new piece of art.”

“I could be working on something while there’s downtime between visiting my parents.”

It’s hella egotistical to think that taking a break leads to the whole world stopping on bated breath for you, but that still doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty. These daily anxieties reminds me of the stupid talks I’ve listened to over the years that state “all you have to do is follow your passion and that’s the only thing that will keep your head afloat.” They are wrong and it’s absolute bullshit. While working for myself is the only job that I can see myself doing, it’s a lot of stress. Saying no and saying yes is met with the moments of sitting with your head in your hands thinking, “What the hell did I decide to do with my life?” The fantasies I envisioned from the paintings people brushed on my canvas appeared to be just that, fantasies. The honeymoon period is over, and I was foolish for taking everything I listened to at face value.

With that said, I’m going to try harder to break up my days and structure my time more effectively. At the same time, when people ask me for advice or ask the open ended question, “How’s working for yourself going?”, I’ll say something that those conference speakers never told me.

“It’s difficult as shit, it’s not perfect, and you learn a lot of stuff on the fly, but I couldn’t think of a better career to craft for myself and how I work.”

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This Week’s Magazine Clippings

I’ll admit, I didn’t come across five things this week, but I came across three things that were really timely to my feelings that I wrote about a few lines above.

★ “Life & Business: Charlotte Cannon of The Vintage Vogue”: Charlotte left a design firm to start working for herself creating hand made goods in Baltimore. It was hard as shit for her as a working mother, so it was refreshing to hear her thoughts, good and bad, while staying a float.

★ “When Black Artists Declare Their Autonomy”: I’ll go through these moments between having unwavering confidence and feeling like absolute crap for being confident. It’s a vicious cycle. Reading about black artists owning this cycle and playing with the dynamics was helpful in realizing that I’m not alone.

★ Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working From Home: Look, I know the title is super click-baity and sounds like a load of crap, but I’ve been trusting Zen Habits for quite a few years and he’s never disappointed. I’ve been trying hard to implement some of these practices and it has been helpful in not feeling like garbage on the daily.

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Updates

★ If you’re in Chicago this weekend, Renegade Craft Fair is going down. It is the joyous time of the year where everyone who makes handmade goods descends upon Chicago in their best cardigans and celebrates art. I’m happy to have two friends in this year’s fair, Chicago’s Jenna Blazevich of Vichcraft and coming in from Austin, Texas, Lindsay Eyth of Eythink. Make sure to stop by their booths to show ‘em some love and give them money for creating great things in this world.

★ I can’t believe we are still doing this thing but this Wednesday will be episode 20 of Cher Vincent and myself’s podcast, Open Ended. We vaguely talk about humanity and tech from the black perspective, but mostly we trade jokes and talk about ratchetness of our surrounding world. It’s honestly a great weekly release. You can check out last week’s episode, ‘I Think You Just Jaden Smith’d Us,’ with guest C’ne Rohlsen on our websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep the lights on.

★ If you’re into owning some art, I’ve got a few framed prints of a piece I created recently, “we(act)," for sale. If you are interested in having some art of mine in your home or studio, reply to this email so we can chat!

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Jennifer, Joelle, David, Jessica, Chad, Will, Eboni, Jayson, Subi, Allyson, and Revision Path.

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Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

James T. Green