That’s the question they asked me in preschool right before my graduation so they could put it on my diploma. Without hesitation I proudly said, “I want to be an artist.” Seventeen years later, I am studying to be a photographer, a visual artist, if you will. I’ve been through hell and back to figure out that this is what I want to do and now that I’m finally here, I’ve never felt more in the right.
Initially, I was a Psychology major who adored everything Psych related. I love sleep and dreams, I love the brain, I love Freudian theories, Pavlov, Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, Erikson’s stages of development. I knew more about ole’ Siggy Freud, his family and home life than any one person would ever care to know. I love it all, but as much as I wish it could be, the passion just isn’t there. I could talk about nature vs. nurture for hours, but where is my creative stimulation? I would sit in my dorm room with my books spread out in front of me and I would think about my future in the field of Psychology and know in the pit of my stomach that something big was missing.
“Writing,” I said, “that’s what’s missing. Writing.” I’d blog to release my pent up creative energy, with RJtalks as my outlet. But it wasn’t enough. I knew I had to break away from the only thing I had ever fought for and try something new. So I went for it, and Public Relations and Journalism with a double minor in Psych and Creative writing was where I ended up. “I LOVE this! I love my professors, I love my classes, I love writing all the time! This is perfect.” Wrong. Being forced to write on a deadline killed me, I was miserable and my GPA reflected that. “Is this how it is going to be all the time?” That’s my problem, I love writing, I’m so passionate about it that it becomes this touchy subject where I all of a sudden turn into this overprotective mother, and beware to all those who try to pick apart my child.
Another minor switch came around (literally) when I dropped creative writing and picked up Photography as a minor. One photo class was all it took. I was hooked and it was obvious. My mind would reel with thoughts of photo project ideas and proposals. If I wasn’t in photo class, I was thinking about photo class. All writing ceased as I let photo hit me in waves, taking me under the surface, and like someone with a death wish, I did absolutely nothing to pull myself back up. Photography makes me sick. It makes me sick in the most incredible way. You know that feeling you get when you look at the person you love? That feeling of butterflies in your stomach, the nervous excitement, always on your mind and able to brighten up your darkest days? Yea, that’s what photo does for me. I knew I needed to know more about photo the moment I began learning about it. So after some begging and pleading in vain, I took it upon myself to just do it. I was told it was going to add possibly a whole year’s worth of studying to my schooling, my parents were not at all thrilled at first but I didn’t care. I took a leap of faith into the most subjective but freeing and creative major I’ve ever encountered and kept myself grounded with the Psych minor.
One of my friends recently said to another, “You know what you want to do, it’s just a matter of actually doing it.” I supported her claim by mentioning that I somehow knew what I wanted to do with my life from the time I was 4 years old, but by the time I was an adult, it seemed like such a fantasy. But maybe our farfetched, fantastic childhood job ideas aren’t so farfetched. Maybe it’s fear that’s holding us back from actually achieving our goals. Fear of failing. Fear of criticism. Fear of someone always being better, smarter, more creative. But we need to stop fearing and start achieving. Parents need to start embracing their kids’ fantastic ideas. If your kid says to you, “mommy, I want to be an astronaut.” Buy that kid a model rocket ship and a book on the stars. They say, “daddy, I want to be a doctor.” Break out the stethoscope and the tongue depressors. If you’re steering them in a different direction from what they are telling you they want to do because you want to protect them from rejection, I promise you, you’re doing them more harm than good in the long run. Eventually your kid is going to grow up and know for a fact what he or she wants to do, wouldn’t you love to know that you supported them in their decision from the very first moment the idea was born?
As always I am RJ, and I am thankful for my incredibly supportive parents.