College Again & A New Career
Continued from Part 2…
Needless to say, I really enjoyed college the second time around (regardless of the fact I was significantly older than many of my classmates). I was making art again! It was a very supportive environment where I was surrounded by creative and inspired people. As to be expected, this was a hugely productive period for me art wise. (Unfortunately, mid-way through my second year, my laptop hard drive crashed and I lost a ton of work, mostly digital projects and photos). My chosen major was now Graphic Design, however I must admit that in my mind this was a bit of a compromise. I was still working off the presumption that I couldn’t make money with my art. So I went with something that would allow me to be creative but more importantly, it was practical. I knew I could get a job and earn a living in my chosen field once I graduated. My number one goal in going back to school was to become financially independent.
This was also an increasingly stressful time for me. I love my family to death, but living at home when you are 28 years old is bound to create some tension. I continued to struggle with finding solid ground in dating. Relationships from the past were still haunting me, getting in the way of forming new connections. The first job I landed after graduating was full time and pretty demanding. I felt like I was always giving 110% and soon enough I was completely burnt out.
In March of 2014, stress from my personal life and my professional life had reached a boiling point. In a moment of desperation and an overwhelming desire for change, I packed up my car and moved to Ohio (You are probably wondering why Ohio? That is a long story for another time, but suffice it to say that the cost of living is about 30% cheaper than Connecticut). To many people, even I had my moments of doubt, this seemed like a drastic and crazy decision. Looking back now, it was both one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and as it turns out, also the best thing. Six months later, I found a good entry level job, working as a graphic designer for an advertising company. Slowly, things seemed to be turning around.
I worked there for the next two and a half years (During this period, I took another hiatus from art, as most of my creative energy went into my job). I learned a lot and had some good times, but even as a designer, I was still unhappy. I felt like I was trying to force myself to fit into an occupation that just wasn’t meant for me. I hated the 9 to 5 grind. I hated my commute. I hated living my life around someone else’s goals and agenda. I wanted to decide what I was going to do with MY time. I wanted to feel a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day, like what I was doing was really worthwhile (nothing against advertising or graphic design, it just isn’t my cup of tea). I felt like I had wasted so much time on things that didn’t make me happy. It had spent over a decade trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life. Along the way, I had learned some very important yet very costly lessons, and among them was the value of time.
At this point, one thing was blatantly clear to me, life is finite. We are only given so much time on this planet and every moment is precious. How much is ONE day of someone’s life worth? Can you even quantify that? I needed to be doing something that was meaningful to ME. I found myself dwelling on my past, how much time I had squandered on negative relationships and poor educational choices. The “If only I had done this…” or ” I wish I had done this back then….” bogged me down. For all of my frustration, I did experience quite a few successes. I was able to become financially independent. I got my own apartment. With the help of my parents, I bought a new car (a red Mini Cooper which I love!). I was FINALLY able to free myself of the emotional baggage from my past and open myself to new people and experiences. Yet I was still not making art outside of my design work.
In October of 2015, my life really started to change for the better. Once I let go of all the burdens that were bringing me down and holding me back, the things I had longed for seemingly fell into my lap. I started researching other avenues for my career online. Articles about how to find your passion and how to identify your strengths, to name a few. I spent hours reading and looking for anything that could help me find a new path. I knew that if I kept trying I could find a better way.