I was an art major and now I'm a graphic designer, and I hate my day job. It's not creative, and everything about it is objectively terrible. I haven't done any personal art in literally years and I hate myself constantly for it. I can't call myself an artist. How do I start again? How can I do art? It's making me cry even thinking about it. I love art so much but I just can't force myself to start again. I miss it, but now I'm so scared to even try.
I’ve been where you are (working in a field I didn’t enjoy) and I know how draining it can be putting all your creative energy into something that makes you miserable.
I guess the big question you should ask yourself is, why are you scared to try? If it’s fear of failure, a good way to look at it is: what’s the worst that can happen? If you fail, you’ll be exactly where you are now but will at least know you tried. But if you never try, you never have the chance to succeed and will always be left wondering “what if?” And if you’re determined enough and work hard enough, there’s a good chance you will succeed.
If the fear has to do with job security and finances, I definitely understand that. That’s what kept me working jobs I didn’t love for as long as I did. There are ways you can make changes towards your ideal career goals without taking too many serious risks.
When I realized I was not going to be happy unless I gave my dream (freelance illustration) a shot I started saving money as much as I could. This meant anything leftover in my paycheck after paying my bills went into savings. I rarely ate out, didn’t buy much in the way of non-necessities, and just generally tried to be as frugal as possible. Eventually I had saved up enough that I felt comfortable taking the risk of quitting my studio job and going freelance, knowing that if I couldn’t get decent paying jobs right away, I had a little bit of a financial buffer.
Another option, if you feel it would be too difficult to save up enough or if you have the motivation/time (or even combined with the above), is to start carving out a little time in the evening and/or on weekends to focus on your personal art. Start building up a portfolio and depending on what kind of art job you’re interested in, either try applying to some studios that interest you when you’re ready or start trying to take the occasional freelance job.
Bottom line is, if you’re truly unhappy, you don’t have to stay in this situation! It may take some time to actually get to where you want to be but I definitely recommend not letting fear hold you back, because it really is worth it!