Our intention creates our reality. - Wayne Dyer
I have been asked, repeatedly: why did you decide to “jump” or change careers to become an artist? People look and see the secure and fulfilling job that previously provided me with all of the glorified social and economic perks for seven years. Why did I let go of it?
I think it is now clear to me, almost 2.5 years later, why. In the middle of all of these amazing events and blessings I lived, I realized that their loss was the only way for me to actually value and honor them. Was I ever afraid or hesitant to lose it all? No. I think the process of letting go can actually be the best way to re-prioritize what is important in life - in the right order. By "letting go" of what I had, I was in fact grasping it all again, but more securely. (Side note: I also never doubted for one second that I would be okay, in the end. Trust is something I've never lacked in the Universe. #optimist)
If you are reading this, most likely you know that around 2015 in the early spring, I had a bike accident that caused a head injury that left me with months inside an existential void. I had to deal with pretending to "be fine" despite actually living in a real depression. In hindsight, maybe my accident was the best thing that could've happened to me: it was actually a crack in the facade of a complacent life where I was coasting along with no real purpose other than the immediate.
I finally had to confront my questions of: "Why am I here?" "What do I want to do with the time I have left?" "Am I satisfied with my day today?" The interesting thing was, in the process of dealing with these questions head-on, I actually began to create new answers for them with "FL!CK IT" choices. I started going out on weekends to paint. I started staying up late to make sure I did that one thing in the day that left me in a content dream state. I began sharing my small goals with others, so that they could help me bear witness to the next steps.
I literally started by setting finite "S.M.A.R.T." goals. I started carrying a sketchbook with me everywhere for doodling/journaling. How many paintings would I make that month? How often was I showing another person my artwork and saying aloud "I am an artist"? I slowly started placing my words and intentions aloud, and therefore began to follow them. Whatever I could do that "my future self would thank me for" .. I started to do it, and then talk about it after.
Being an artist is a daily and deliberated process of choice. I didn't wake up one day and say, "Now I am an artist!" I started with considering how I could incorporate art more into my days, into my school experience, into my weekend experience, even after work.. adding 30 minutes of sketching on the balcony. Over a year's time, I had painted over 12 murals, then began being commissioned for paintings, then I was being invited to making art for others at social events around the city, which eventually led to me meeting my boss who, 6 months later, proposed to me that I help him create this residency project in Shenzhen.
But even since I left teaching officially in June 2016, each exhibition, each commission, each small achievement has been the result of a daily grind and determination I have had with myself. I chose to be loyal to this art dream, despite all small setbacks and doubts, for myself and my happiness. I choose to be patient and take pride in small daily or weekly accomplishments. I still have that accident's memory with me to remind me each day how I don't have a guarantee of time in this life... all I know is that I can design my day today.
So, while for many people it seems I just "made the jump" and switched careers "suddenly", I want to be clear: the shift began happening years before that official decision was signed on a paper. It began by promising to myself, on a daily basis, that I would do more of what filled my soul each day: art. When you can thread your days together with the needle of a single, simple intention, you'd be surprised what collateral beauty results.