i have never left a comment on your site before, but i check it every few days! i love that you are so open with your life, and share with you are doing with us. i think it is so awesome that you are making your dreams come true and so strong about it. i think it is inspiring because i am in law school now doing something that i don’t really like. my parents and older siblings are all lawyers, and i felt like i had to become one too. i don’t know how to tell my parents that i really have no interest in it.
the problem is, that i don’t really know what i want to do in life. i have been brought up with the mindset that i am supposed to be a lawyer, so i don’t really know what else i can be. i’m sorry if i sound confusing. i’m just at a loss and don’t know what to do. it’s refreshing to read your blog and know that someone out there is following their dreams and doing something they love. i wish i knew what else i could do!!”
your email made me really sad. this entry is for you and any other lost souls who might chance upon this post.
are you satisfied with your job or your path in life? are you happy doing what you’re doing? would you be happy if you had to do it the rest of your life?
i can’t count how many times i’ve heard friends or overheard strangers complain and whine at how much they hate their jobs. you hear it on the subway, while sitting in a cafe, basically, just about everywhere. my own friends complain constantly about their jobs and how much they hate what they are doing. “why the hell did i chose to go into this line?” they say.
are you in the same boat?
here’s my story
(and i’m sorry if i’ve already repeated myself 2000 times. but i’m a firm believer in creating your own path in life!)
i think i’ve been lucky because i’ve always known what i wanted to do. my dreams and goals have changed from when i was a kid, but at least i always had a goal in life. when i was 5 i wanted to be a princess (who didn’t?). then i wanted to be a vet and specialise in horses and dogs. i got my parents to bring me to the national library every week and i can promise you that i read every book there was about horses and dogs and could name every different breed. then i wanted to be a dog trainer and i even read all the books that were available at the library on dog training!
soon after i was devouring magazines instead of dog books, and getting frustrated when i wanted certain clothing that i couldn’t find in stores and didn’t know how to make. i would cut my own clothes up and randomly sew them in techniques i didn’t know how, just to re-make them in a way i liked. i tried to sketch out my ideas but i didn’t know how to draw so they all turned out looking like mashed potatoes. so i kept all my ideas in my head.
that was when i knew i wanted to become a fashion designer or stylist. the problem is, that i have a rather different sense of style and my market might be small. but hey, i am my main customer. and i design for me. if someone out there shares similar aesthetics, then i’ll only be glad to share my clothes with them.
some of you might remember me talking about a very sad time of my life when i was 18-20. it was 2 very dark years for me, and i spend many days crying. i asked god time and again, why i had to go through all this. why i had to be so sad. why everything was falling apart. i remember telling him over and over again, “all i want is to be happy.”
i didn’t want my family to fall apart. i didn’t want my parents to argue anymore. i didn’t want us kids to fight with them. i didn’t want to feel so angry with my parents. on top of that, i had suddenly developed a bad bout of full blown acne, and one of my dogs had died and i was overwhelmed with guilt. i would come home everyday and kneel in front of her little grave and literally just sob. i couldn’t take it. i was very hurt and i was really dying inside. the pain was killing me and i had to escape to another place. i had to leave home. i had to do what i liked and i couldn’t let anything stop me. it might sound like i am exaggerating but i promise you that even typing this now, i remember the pain i felt then, and a part of me still hurts so bad that i’m crying.
it was hard to tell my parents that i’d changed my mind and instead of going to vet school, i wanted to go to fashion school. please be reminded that i come from the typical asian family where you are supposed to go to university and it would be quite a shame to the family name if you didn’t. plus, although singapore is slowly (very very slowly) changing and trying to promote the arts now, the general opinion is still that “smart” kids did sciences and “the kids who couldn’t” did arts. sad, but that’s the way it was. society had already laid a path down for me and i was supposed to take that road.
all hell broke loose when i told my parents that i had made up my mind to be a designer. and horrors of horrors, it was almost blasphemy that i wanted to do fashion. it wasn’t something that someone “from a good school” did.
it took two years for me to convince my parents that this was really what i wanted to do. but when i finally convinced them that this was my dream, they were fully supportive.
i flew off to japan after that. i gave up everything i had to go there. my family whom i loved dearly but had to get away from, my friends, my other dog, a comfortable life, to go to a place i knew nothing of and had no friends, and couldn’t even speak the language. so of course, before i could even enter fashion school, i had the learn japanese. another year and a half later, i finally finally finally got into fashion school. it took me many years to get to where i am now. and although i complain so much (mostly about how badly run parsons is), i love what i am doing and i want to do this forever. i cannot imagine myself doing anything else. all this hard work is worth it because it fulfills me. i might have other interests, but i know that this is it. fashion is the one. fashion is my mister right.
why do you think i gave up all socialising in new york for? it ain’t fun getting stressed out at parsons. the school tries to make you fail and kick people out after taking their money. but there is nothing else i’d rather be doing. i wrote about living your dream, about a year ago, on the night i left singapore for new york.
in it, i shared two quotes with you that i love, and want to share with you again:
“how do you put a price on your dream? is it worth one month’s salary? is it worth dying for? i don’t have an answer. but i believe it is different for every person. for me, i was ready, and still am, to give my life for my dream.“
- iranian-american anousheh ansari, 40, the world’s first female space tourist
“the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
- eleanor roosevelt
are you following your dreams? doing what you love?
what did you want to be when you were growing up? what did you dream of becoming when you were an adult? how near or far are you from your dreams? did you let society and your surroundings (friends/family/etc) convince you to walk a different path? are you doing what you are doing, because you love it? or because it is something that someone else wants you to be?
we are all different and not one of us are the same. and i strongly believe that we each have god-given talents. there is some things that each of us are good at. and some things we might not be great at, but we love doing anyway. it takes some time to discover our gifts, our talents and what gives us joy.
but it is an exciting discovery and one worth spending time slowly finding, soul-searching.
but how do you know? what if i really don’t have a talent? how do i find one?
deep down inside, we all know what we love doing. yet, some of us ignore the signs. stop doing that to yourself! you might just be your biggest enemy if you ignore your own passion.
imagine that you are a designer. a life designer.
the most important customer that you have to satisfy, is yourself.
don’t rush the process. take your time to feel and find yourself.
start paying attention to you!
what are your hobbies? what do you like to do in your free time? what kind of activities make you happy? what puts a smile on your face? what can’t you stop once you start doing? what makes you concentrate so hard, you forget to eat and realise 5 hours later that you’re really hungry and time has passed so fast?
make a list! list everything! hold a little notebook as you go about your day, and write little flashes of inspiration whenever it hits. write down whatever makes you smile.
create an inspiration board
spend time making it nice and beautiful. go through magazines and cut out pictures and inspiring words that jump out of the pages and appeal to you. if you want to do this collage digitally, make sure you print it out. it has to be something you can see, feel and hold! display your inspiration board some place prominent in your house or bedroom, in a spot that you can see everyday!
play the word game
get a pen and paper, and sit yourself down. then answer this question: “what do i want to be?”
don’t think! just write! write until your paper is filled up with words! you don’t have to write full-sentences. short phrases work just fine. write anything and everything that comes naturally to you. you might write words that aren’t true to yourself too. it’s that voice inside of your head, the voice that speaks on behalf of society, that tells you should be annoyed instead of smiling, stressed instead of at peace, a lawyer instead of a painter. just write it down, and write down whatever those voices tell you too. but once those voices have exhausted themselves, you will surely write a few words that are truely coming from you and you alone. you will write something down that speaks to your soul. you will realise it and it will be the one that makes you say, “this is it. i know it is!”
circle/highlight/bold that special word(s) on your paper, and pin that to your inspiration board too!
ask the people who want the best for you
no one knows you better than your friends and family. but sometimes, they are also the ones who prevent you from being who you really want to be. ask people whom you know cares for you, people who genuinely want the best for you, people who have never pushed their own dreams onto you, people who want you to succeed. ask them what your best qualities are, what they think you’re good at, what they notice makes you smile.
get rid of the “no”s and the “can’t”s
rid yourself of barriers and pests. often, these obstacles are the ones closest to you! they might not even be aware that they are stopping you from achieving what you want. worse, sometimes, some people live in misery and they want to drag you down with them. because even if your dream was just to be happy, they aren’t, so they are never ever happy for you. these people tell you that you can’t possibly reach your goal, because you are too stupid, too poor, too young, too old, too smart (to want to do something that is simple and carefree), etc.
they are the ones who constantly make you feel bad for yourself. they are the ones who make you sigh with despair and failure, every time they make a negative comment about even the tiniest of your accomplishments.
have a heart-to-heart talk with those people, and explain to them how you feel, how their negativity is getting you down and making you feel like you can’t do anything. tell them how much it would mean to you, if they encouraged you more.
but waitaminute. is this negative person you? are you another culprit who tells yourself, “but i can’t!”? life is too short to spend it being negative. life is too short not to love yourself. learn to love yourself first, and your purpose in life will surely follow!
your purpose in life isn’t just a job. it isn’t just a hobby. it is a way of life.
i want to somehow be involved in fashion, and because i just love it so much, it doesn’t really matter to me how i get involved with it. it would be mind boggling if i eventually become a designer and have my own little shop. but even if i created my own clothes on the side and work elsewhere full-time, i think it still fulfills my purpose in life.
have you ever met with actors and painters who have about 2 waitering jobs just to help pay the rent? they do anything they can just to support their passion. and yet they are some of the happiest, most self-fulfilled people i know.
your goal in life might be to be happy. your dream might be to live life to the fullest.
what would you do if you could turn back time? what would you do with your life if you won the lottery? what is that one thing you keep putting off, that thing you say you will accomplish “one day”? what makes you excited, that you can’t stop doing, that you forget to sleep, that you go to bed thinking, “oooh i can’t wait to wake up again!”? what are you willing to give up to achieve that dream?
it’s not going to come overnight. it might take you a day, a week, a month, or perhaps, years. you can’t force yourself to discover your goals. it has to happen naturally. we all have times when we just feel crappy about ourselves. but whenever that happens to me, i play my favourite music and watch my favourite tv shows that make me laugh. i go out for a walk alone, or lie in bed staring out of the window. (that last one sounds pathetic but it’s really quite fun. heh heh.) doing this helps quieten me down and makes me focus on the important things.
that excitement will come to you. you’ll know it when it hits. you are a strong person! there is never a wrong moment. it is never too late.
the moment is now. live in it!
your dreams are worth achieving, and the rest of your life is worth fulfilling. once you find that special something, i promise you there will never be another dull and grey day. although there might be many sleepless nights! (in a good way).
hug yourself! enjoy the journey.
please do share your story! i’m sure plenty of you have amazing stories to tell about your accomplishments now, or what you are aiming for. what did you always want to become? an astronaut? or the most amazing mom in the world?