It's a hot almost-summer night in Seattle. I'm laying on the floor of my friend's apartment acutely aware of a menacing mosquito buzzing in the air while trying to enjoy an illegal streaming of the movie "Eat Pray Love" when the words of Julia Roberts' character resonate with me like something I once said in a past life:
I had actively participated in every moment of the creation of this life. So why didn't I see myself in any of it?
It's important to know that this woman, Liz Gilbert, is probably in her late 30s - early 40s, married to a man she thought she loved, living a comfortable life as a writer in the city she thought she wanted, and still successfully experiencing a mid-life crisis. I, on the other hand, am 23 years old (a year but feels like 5 older than 22), recent graduate of a respected university, working at a pretty fucking cool social media job right after said university, and living in one of the most exciting cities in America. If those words are resonating with me NOW, I'm fucked at 39.
The first time I felt like I was truly investing in myself for myself was the first time I took a selfie. No, seriously. A selfie. Before iPhone's and front facing cameras. Before Instagram make-up and social currency in likes and follows. I was a 15 year old wanna-be fashionista, trying to figure out how to work the self-timer on my dad's digital camera balancing on a stack of algebra books + shoe boxes while still making it into the frame on time. I finessed ways into turning each corner of my house (including the front porch) into photogenic backdrops for my thrifted outfits and I to shine; I was trying to make fashion editorial content with the resources of a high school student living in Colorado suburbia.
It's taken me 8 years to figure out that living a perceptively comfortable life, even to me, is still settling. It also took me 8 years to figure out that my priority of not disappointing others was levels above the priority of not disappointing myself. And in many times, those expectations others had of me were imagined, expectations I had created on my own accord because I was afraid to pursue a life without expectations and by instinct instead.
Pursuing your dreams isn't that cool.
This summer I quit my first job out of college. I was homeless for the first time. I discovered the real value and discipline of structure. It wasn't until now, at this very moment in my life, do I feel the utmost freedom, fear, and uncertainty of the rest of my life - and what the hell I'm going to do about it.
Soon the daily familiarity of knowing when to wake up to go to work, when your next pay check is coming in, when your client is expecting your next deliverable is a like a former friend you never really liked anyways.
It scares me that I'm so open now. I've always been a creature of comfort. I've always had structure, and taken it for granted, to a certain extent. And in many cases to my disadvantage, I've always been badass at what I do creatively whether I have a day job or not - the reason it's been so easy for me to become complacent. But pursuing my dreams, creating a career out of freelance work, is if nothing else a commitment to self-accountability. To walking my walk, so I can really talk my shit (or was that the saying?).
I'm smart. I have ideas that I know are really fucking good. I know how to hustle, how to pay my dues. I know how people and things work. I have an intrinsic ability of bringing out the best in colors, textures and tones. I'm the poster child of new meets old, content meets context, business meets creative. And these are things I never obtained, it's always been a part of me. That also took me 8 years to figure out. The faith to believe I'm not pursuing the dream, the dream is pursuing me. I was suppose to be someone else, and every part of my life was conditioned to see that through - from my upbringing, to my heritage, to my environment, to my conscience. But I cannot, for the life of me, be anyone else. Something inherent has repelled and found refuge in my art, my expression, my community. And I'm ready to manifest it into my reality.
So here's my dream.
Make a living from styling and curating visual media for artists and creative brands in my sphere. Advocating for the power of compelling content and aesthetic to convey a personal brand. Connecting the ideals of two generations BI and AI (Before Internet and After Internet), and being the voice of the generation in between.
That is what I'm passionate about. That is what I'll dedicate my life mastering.
To those who have helped me reach this point with self-efficacy and gumption, thank you.
To my Milli Fam. You guys are the biggest goons I've ever had the honor of working with. Exactly what I needed and didn't know I needed in my first job out of college. An experience I'll forever hold to the highest value and sentiment, which is miraculous considering how many ugly snapchats, stupid nicknames and inside jokes that were made in spite of me.
To my squad. The best friends I found amongst 3 strong, amazing, individualist women. The bottomless well of inspiration that kept me quenched. All those group chats, late nights, car rides, and homemade sangrias were sacred. A solidarity that promised we would never let each other falter or fade.
To my family. You have taught me the value of hard work. To tackle the biggest of dreams with discipline and a great plan. But more importantly you've taught me unconditional love, the kind that could change the minds of two first generation immigrant parents.
To him. The one who inspires me every day to be an individual but will never let me feel alone. You are literally everything.
If you've made it this far in my life...in my blogging career...in this short essay of a post - THANK YOU. I'm here to tell you I've thrown in the conventional towel. I've put my shit in drive. I've reintroduced myself to the 15 year old girl with a vision. I'm honoring this unshakable potential of mine, and the importance of realizing it, now.