“What we map changes the life we lead”, something I picked up from watching John Green’s TEDx talk about Paper Towns (my favorite book for reasons I will not try to comprehend, because people kept telling me why I preferred this over Looking for Alaska—it’s called personal preference!). It got me thinking how life can be surprising—how things can transpire and how opportunities can take its course and you really just have to be full-on open about it before they disappear again.
When I was in freshman year in high school, I started journaling. Not the one you see now on Instagram—it was more of a “dear diary” type where I wrote about daily thoughts and reports about my school days. There’ll be recurring anecdotes about how I’ve been trying to draw more (I had an emo phase, like most teenagers) and how I’ve been crushing over the same person and drawing inspiration from said person to make art (sorry, I was fourteen—go figure).
In my early years of blogging on Tumblr, I’d write about the most mundane things: where I went, what I did, art I made. It was my way of discovering my own curiosities about the environment I lived in. I found myself asking the same questions as I read every book, made every piece of art, watched every film, and experienced every life-changing encounter.
My personal experiences (post-grad, after resigning from my corporate job) led me to the conclusion that I didn’t have to settle for what was right in front of me. Once I opened up doors to walk right into, I stopped looking back. Of course, I didn’t have a clue what was waiting on the other side. But don’t we all? Uncertainty is real. Change is constant. That’s how life is.
I’ve been doing a career review in recent months—starting from 2014 when I cluelessly ventured into freelance (aka my YOLO year), up to the first half of 2018 as I’m three years in working full-time as an artist and author. I plotted out good things, I plotted out bad things. I wrote down my learnings for every year, and it eventually gave me the best conclusion: one thing led to another.
I put up a blog. I put up a shop. I started to make art more. I discovered my love for lettering, which led to teaching, which led to writing my first book, second book, third, fourth, and now, fifth. It’s been three years and counting. I’m working my way as I go, and nothing has been set in stone from the very beginning.
I just knew I wanted to do something that would not only benefit me, but others as well. It was a win-win, I always said. Nothing made me more happy than knowing people are learning. People are opening themselves up to creativity. Art is more accessible now, and it’s something worth celebrating.
And now, I slowly am trying to dig out the dreams I have long forgotten. Dreams I told myself early on were impossible to fulfill—until the pieces suddenly fit together. Timing is everything, they said.
Before leaving for New York, I had a percentage of my workshop income converted to dollars for my schooling allowance this fall. My earnings from helping others learn lettering and journaling for the past years have turned into a way for me to learn more and go to school. It’s a humbling milestone, and I’ve never been this fulfilled in the longest time. So thank you for being a part of it. For making me do what I do now. There’s still a long road ahead…but it never really is about the destination, is it?