There comes a point in your existence where you will feel stuck. Not knowing what your purpose is in life, how you will get there or even where you want to go. Almost everyone has to endure this in their life regardless of what race, gender, or environment you were raised in.
You find things you like, learn about it, then go about doing it. You put in time, effort, and energy only to stumble upon different interests that reposition you onto a different path in life. Or, something dramatic happens, things take a turn for the worse and the thing that made you once happy, turn into something of frustration, anger or boredom.
Growing up, I always had thoughts about what I wanted to pursue as a career when I was older. A bear trainer, a race car driver, a scientist and even a computer engineer just to name a few. I never really thought about art or photography to be something that I would pursue in life since I never really had friends or family that were also into the arts (other than my father that would always insist taking family portraits with his 35mm Nikon film camera). I frequently changed my mind about what I wanted to become in life.
After High School, I was stuck between deciding which path i wanted to go in life: Join the Military, or Enroll myself in college, take prerequisite courses and then decide which field of studies I would continue on from there. I chose the latter.
I was set and thought Computer Engineering would be my something I would enjoy learning about until i had to take advanced math courses. Like a lot of people, I too hated math. It sucked! It got me frustrated and I would get irritated with all the equations we had to solve which I felt (and still feel) can’t be used in real life situations.
I opted to take some semesters away from school because as a young adult, I thought chasing money was always the best option. And that school will always be there. I just didn’t know stress, misery, frustration and feelings of being belittled by your superiors came along with it. I worked random jobs that paid little to nothing and slaved my weekdays away just so I can live up life on the weekends. I honestly felt like a robot! I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, yet did it anyways. The sad truth is, I didn’t even know what I was passionate about.
For me, I didnt discover my passion until I got a call one day with a job offer to work in the camera department of a store a few days after applying to work as a stock room clerk. I know, it was random right?! Despite having only little knowledge of photography, I accepted the position.
[Side note: The first time I picked up a camera was at the age of 15 when my teacher gave us a disposable camera that we had to use in order to create a scrap book of our encounters in and out of school. I loved photographing, but thought nothing of it and didn’t know photography could actually become a persons career.]
Although I knew how to use little point-and-shoot cameras, I had no prior experience capturing images with DSLR cameras. I didn’t know what all the funky buttons did, what shutter speed, aperture, and ISO meant nor had a clue why the lens had to be manually moved. This intrigued me to a point that I wanted to know everything about it and was kind of forced to know it since selling them would be my job.
I ended up learning as much as I could from my coworkers at the time, and eventually saved up enough money to finally buy very own Nikon D3000. (Woohoo! Yeah that thing was crap, but then again, my photography skills at the time were crap).
Don’t me wrong. Familiarizing myself with this type of camera, let alone learning how to choose the right settings ,was difficult at first, but I loved the challenge. It was nothing like I ever felt before! It made me feel calm, focused, and present whenever I placed my eye against the view finder, waiting for the perfect moment to press my finger down on the shutter. It was like falling into a state of zen. Definitely a moment I couldn’t compare to any past experiences i had in my life.
As i progressed overtime, I found that Photography was something that I truly loved doing. Sometimes, I would even dream about it! It started to become apart of my life and I decided from that point on that it was what I wanted to pursue in life.
During my distorted career path at the time, I realized that you can actually make a living from taking photos so I jumped on the opportunity and researched different schools that taught students this form of art. That’s when I stumbled upon Academy of Art University– the school of arts taught by artists- and enrolled in online courses.
It was unlike my early days of attending community college. I actually loved and enjoyed every aspect of the learning process. The feeling of being a part of a community and working alongside other students with the same interests and passions as myself, provoked a sense of belonging in this world. Yes, it got hard at times telling people that I was studying to become a professional artist, but deep within, I knew it was my calling in life.
Fast forward today, I earned my AA degree in photography online and my BFA in Advertising/Illustration photography in San Francisco, learning the ins and outs of photography, design, and what it truly meant and took to become a real artist. They not only taught me about the technical side of this art, but also the conceptual aspects – something I never knew about before uni.
I am now able to call myself a real artist. I learned to land jobs doing freelance work, and even ventured off doing my own thing. I had no boss to bow down to, no hierarchies to impress, and never really had to endure a lot of stress. I became my own entity. And, best of all, it never felt like work!
I urge anyone out there that is feeling stuck in life right now , to find what they love the most- something that you can imagine yourself doing even if it’s out of pure pleasure- and go out and do the damn thing! Dive deep inside what makes you happy and makes you want to wake up every single morning, learn endlessly about, and improve upon and go out and pursue it as a career!
Trust me! It will be hard, but once you get to that place in life, you and others around you will be proud of what you become. As long as you put in the time and effort,
Once you find yourself at this place in life, you will thank yourself so much and all that stress you experienced before will vanish away. You will benefit your life as well as the lives around you. Trust me! People will start to see that in you! If you truly love and enjoy the things that you do in life, people WILL KNOW!
Your purpose in life lays within your passions. So go find it! And If you still don’t know what it is, just do what I did and venture off into different things. Whether its through serving others, creating programs, teaching people, or protecting others, your heart will provide you the answers. Life too damn short so list to your heart! Who knows, It may even randomly stumble upon the soles of your feet.
What are your passions in life? are you following it and if so, how did you find it? If you don’t , what measures are you taking right now to discover it? I would love to hear your thoughts about them in the comments below.