I used federal loans to help pay for college. I looked out-of-state for a school with a worthwhile balance of quality and affordability. Even with some very helpful financial aid, this made enrollment possible but not debt-free. Regardless, the path of an artist is what I've known I've needed my entire life, so I made the choice, and presently remain optimistic that ultimately it was the right one.
I can still claim some leniency from being a recent grad, but, as of writing this, I am still unemployed. After summer months of no progress or luck, I moved back in with my parents. The search continues; the results remain unchanged. I know my situation is rather normal for others in my age group, and that having supportive parents means my situation is a far cry from the worst it could be, but it does not feel good having to continue this reliance and it's frequently disheartening being unable to get a basic foothold.
I am working to find how I personally can best balance my creative pursuits with my practical necessities. Working to make those overlap in a rather ideal way is a long way off. Completely neglecting my work would be detrimental to my ability and overall mental health, but the seeds of doubt that my art still 'counts' as wasted time--time that should also be put towards more concrete sources of income. The struggle of the emerging artist gaining a basic foothold is much the norm, but notions of 'having failed' are disheartening, even though I know I'm far from alone.