Some of us are born knowing what we want to do. Not me. I was just born. I was, however, born with my eyes wide open. My Dad says I was looking around the room with just my head out. Maybe that's a clue to who I am supposed to be; a sign of the visual legacy I am to leave in this world. Maybe I was just a weird kid. Either way, I started life with my eyes open. Creepy? Yes. Observant? Absolutely.
We were brought up in a society that defined us by our occupation. As children, we were asked what we wanted to do when we grew up. As teenagers, we were asked what college major we'd choose, and in college, what we planned on doing when we finished. I've always been a quick thinker and a good talker, so it was fairly easy to convince my own inquirers (as well as myself) that I had it pretty figured out. I had always banked on using my talents to get in with a “good company”, and make money doing what I was passionate about. Soon enough I graduated college, degree-in-hand and quickly realized I had no real plan, no corporate experience, and no inquiries on my carefully formulated LinkedIn profile.
So I went on tour. I became a live-in nanny. I decided to become a merchandiser. A manager. A receptionist. A drummer. I commuted from the Bay to Santa Cruz for a minimum wage retail job (because it's cooler to work retail if you're on the coast).
"I had a lot of experiences, but with every new career I jumped into, I eventually found myself thinking: what am I doing here?"
With each new job I took, I realized I've been desperate to tell a story. I've always been a storyteller. I see life in clips and moments, filtered by light and shadow. I saw that with each attempt at climbing the corporate ladder, I was trying to corral my passion in a direction that would eventually make me money. Here is what I learned in the process: you can't force your passion to pay your bills.
"Do what you do because you can't help but do it. Do it because you love it. Don't ever stop, and maybe it will make you money. Maybe it won't."
When I finally became content with that idea is when I finally started to make money doing what I love. Go figure. Every “day job” from that point on made me hungrier. Hungry to create and hungry to learn more.
I soon learned to not be intimidated by the work of others. I learned not to be a perfectionist. Just make it, put it out there, and keep on making. Everyone starts somewhere, and most people will enjoy watching your growth. It's the same reason I don't un-tag myself in hideous Facebook photos –everyone has an awkward stage. It allows your audience to connect with you.
To all my fellow storytellers, whatever medium you choose: work your jobs, make your money, but do what makes you happy. Photograph, film, write, draw, sculpt - anything to remind yourself what makes you feel. Feel life, pain, peace, anger - whatever. Feel everything that is inside of you and around you because this life is short. It's fleeting, it's fragile, and it's the most beautiful thing because it can be taken from us in a second. I may never know what it is I was born to do, but at least now I know what makes me feel alive.