Here's a story from a chapter in my life for those of you who feel as though the job or project you are working at right now doesn't make a lot of sense or doesn't totally "feel right" when it comes to what you see yourself doing in the future. I have been there, and I hope this story inspires you to trust yourself a little bit more.
Did you know I found my passion for visual art through a medium that wasn't that visual at all? I had dreamed of being a published writer since I was a kid, but my first public attempt didn't come until I was in my late twenties. I didn't share this dream with a lot of my friends growing up, and my husband was one of the first people I told when I was still working in the Finance world. One thing I did know how to do was build websites, so I decided to stop waiting and start writing every day on a simple site I built, even though I had a full-time job building a sales team at a startup in LA, was training for my first marathon and planning my wedding from across the country. My "write every day" mission became a story blog called "Our Smile Project" and it was a series of short stories capturing moments of connection and joy between people, with the simple intention to create stories that made readers smile.
In the course of 18 months, I wrote 23 "moment" stories (and 15 of those short stories were published or syndicated on amazing sites like Women's iLab), raised $2,000+ for Operation Smile through the generosity of my readers and it was around this time two years ago when I was a finalist for the 2015 Passion Project Award in San Francisco by The Passion Company where I presented myself as a storyteller (vs. Biz Dev leader or Financial Analyst) for the first time on a stage in front of 300 people. I didn't win the award but I got something so much greater. It was through these short stories that I found my rightful home in visual art, simply because I wanted to "see" my characters so I began to draw them and noticed I had some raw talent in illustration. The more I drew, the more aligned I felt with this medium, and ultimately my purpose as a visual artist (plus, I wasn't that great of a writer! 😁)
Despite the tears and painful moments of self-doubt, I gave myself a break from being so certain about my creative path and questioned whether being a writer felt like the truest of my gifts to share with the world. After all, this had been a dream of mine since I was a kid. But I learned being a writer and dreaming about being one are two very different things, and having this honest conversation with myself was life-changing for me.
"Our Smile Project" is no longer live, and while it was hard to move on from a community of readers and collaborators that I created, I'm grateful for everything and everyone it gave me and those who have felt inspired by my visual art since then. Most importantly, I now know creativity needs to be a daily discipline for it to become a habit; a power inside of myself that I could call upon even when I didn't feel like writing or illustrating.
My friends, nothing is ever wasted or lost. Trust in the fact that the dots will connect for you.