What I am about to share with you is a little bit of my own journey; a journey of realizing who I was, who I am, who I might BECOME, and radically accepting it all for better or worse.
Looking back, it was always so evident what my passion was. Now it’s just retroactively obvious to me that I was born this way. However, it took until my late twenties before I decided to turn my passion into my life’s work! Why is that? Well…
When I was a kid I loved publications; really anything I could get my hands on, whether it was a free brochure from the bank or random business cards. In fact my mom called me the ‘Bag Lady’ because I filled entire bags with all these free publications. I would then play “business” with them. That’s right--instead of playing with dolls or playing house, I would invite Luke Skywalker and Princess Leah over for a formal business meeting with my brochures! Can’t make this stuff up!
In addition to my Star Wars-themed corporate meetings, I had my Dad’s old Kodak suitcase that I would lug around, packed with craft items for when I got bored. It was almost every day that I worked on my crafts. This briefcase lasted me all the way through middle school!
When I was seventeen and felt I was ready, I went off to college—a little early, I know. Although my parents encouraged me to study both science and math, I made a compromise and instead chose the social sciences. I have to admit that while these subjects were really interesting to me, I just couldn’t hack it in the hard sciences. Meanwhile it had been reinforced over and over again to me by my parents and teachers that art would not get me anywhere. Therefore I studied Political Science and Economics which seemed to suit me better. After graduating, I went to work for a huge bank as my first job in the ‘real world.’
Right upon starting there, I was eager to excel at my day-to-day work. So much so that I was more concerned about being promoted and achieving than I was about being happy or pursuing what I was built for! I call this period the ‘dark days,’ and for about 3-5 years I dealt constantly with overwhelming anxiety and depression.
Every day I struggled to get out of bed and go to work. I was not happy or satisfied with anything in my life except the short weekends when I pursued my arts and crafts. In fact the depression got so bad that eventually I had to stop working at the bank entirely.
Here I had to face facts--for all intents and purposes, I was broken. However, while I had trouble with everyday tasks, the one thing I had no trouble with at all was being creative. It still came so naturally to me. I gradually realized that it took me being beaten mentally to finally accept myself as I really was--a proud creative person! I had tried so hard all of my life to fit a certain mold to please my parents or whomever else in my life. But the one thing I needed to fit was ME; the one person I needed to make happy was ME; the person I had to live with in the end was only ME!
As you can no doubt see, the moral of my journey is the one thing it took me 25 years to learn: we have each got to accept ourselves as we actually are. This self-acceptance is a gift we can all give ourselves every day, and from there we will discover the passion that motivates us to do our OWN life work. Only in this way can we truly be success stories!