"Well, now that we have seen each other, said the Unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"
Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass
Artist, Artiste, Künstlerin, Artistino, Artista
(English, French, German, Esperanto, Italian/Spanish, in case you wondered.)
A while ago, I was thinking of my particular talents and interests in a sort of abstract way and I thought back to my early childhood and wondered which talent was the strongest. One of my earliest memories is of music and I have always and still love music. I don't play any instruments, but I sing quite well and for a few years I wanted to be a professional singer (that was a dream I never really pursued, though I wish now that I had really given it a serious try).
I also have always loved stories and words, and I wrote down my first story when I was about six or seven, but I was telling stories (sometimes to the consternation of my parents) long before that. Both of these things are still deep passions of mine. I love music, I love words.
But the thing that stands out the most is my utter passion for making pictures. From the moment I discovered what a crayon could do, I was hopelessly fascinated with drawing. The sight of a large, clean, blank area was irresistable to me. Walls, the underside of tables and other furniture, the inside of my grandmother's piano bench (the kind with a lid so you can keep music inside), nothing escaped my artistic attention. My childhood books all had drawings in the blank pages at the beginning and end of the book because I couldn't bear to let a clean piece of paper go to waste. My notebooks in school were covered with my drawings.
Yes, of course I got into trouble this way. Coloring on walls and the furniture gets little kids in trouble in a hurry, and so does drawing in class when you're supposed to be "paying attention" (although why they thought I couldn't pay attention while also drawing I don't know). My passion for making pictures got me into a lot of hot water over the years.
When I finally figured out what I wanted to study at university (after fiddling around with a few majors that didn't suit me at all, including nursing, of all things), I worked up the courage to study Fine and Applied Art and Design (it required courage because art is not usually especially lucrative and I initially wanted to get an education specifically for employment purposes). The things I learned got channeled into floral design (which is a job I held while I was in college) and later into web design and digital art, which is pretty much what I do well and where I want to stay (I haven't done any traditional media works in literally years, although one of these days I should probably take up calligraphy again).
The purpose of this rambling is that I've done many things and tried to walk down roads that were clearly not meant for me (I'm a Certified Nurse's Aide, for example, a job which absolutely does not suit me in any way, shape, or form, and for a while I worked as a factory drone in a job I hated intensely, and I've been a waitress and a fast food jockey, among other odd jobs). Always, I came back one way or another to the things I love: visual art, words, music, pretty much in that order. Without the ability to make pictures, to express myself in writing, and to have music around me and as part of me, I'd be less than whole.
So, from that introspective mood, I offer this advice: Life is too short to spend it doing things you don't like. Do what you love and don't worry about what other people think or whether or not you can make a living at it (I worried that I'd be unable to make a living with an art degree, but I'm very, very glad now that I followed my heart and went for the Fine and Applied Art and Design major, even if I don't make a living from it). If you want to make pictures, make them. If you want to write, write. If you want to sing, sing. If you want to crunch numbers or build houses or fix engines or bake bread, do it. Don't let, "I wish I'd done what I loved instead of things that didn't give me any fulfillment or enjoyment," won't be one of your great regrets in life.
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