This is the blog post I’ve been wanting to write for a while now, and it certainly took a lot to write.
Sometimes life goes wrong for all the right reasons. Almost a year and a half ago now, I experienced a turning point that hid very little in terms of it’s purpose. Though, all is due to a personally defiant change of mind.
/A YEAR AGO/
February 2016, was the pivotal point that marked a new mindset, and ultimately, a new life.
The beginning of a new year brought financial struggles and a fraught, new job hunt. By the end of January my mom called and shared news that my great aunt, a woman who radiated joy and never ceased her smile of continuous positive intent, had passed away. The following week my relationship of almost two years finally reached an end of toxicity.
It was during that initial drive back home that an overwhelming sense of relief released over me and freedom sank in at it’s fullest. The week that followed housed headspace for reflection and the undeniable acceptance of self (both good and bad).
It’s hard to admit your own faults, especially those you have grown in comfort with. Though I finally recognized I was a highly negative being; I was toxic–and not just to those around me, but especially myself. Stress, worry, anxiety, and fear consumed my life and I had been overwhelmed for a very long time.
Yet even after all the events that piled up in the new year, something switched inside me and I felt myself surrender with ease. Everything just flipped. I decided I no longer wanted to feel heavy with constant anger. I began rebelling against myself for the better, and started training (and tricking) myself, pulling out of ruts and forging new neural pathways in the pursuit of positivity.
My first assessment in establishing this new habit was finding a new job in the small city foreign and naive to my field. Given the small, who-you-know nature of Erie, job rejections both in and out of the creative market were heavy and expected. I reached out to the only local art gallery, inquiring to submit some pieces for sale. After about four or five emails sent, I eventually received a reply stating that my poster prints just wouldn’t fit. Sexism was then realized as a local silk-screening business looking for an extra set of hands pushed aside my education, portfolio, and personal creative ambition to barely offer a possibility of a “frontdesk” position (not related to the original job posting) with their only other female employee. Other various out-of-state applications received more attention but never enough to go beyond a fleeting fruition.
I constantly reassured myself something would eventually work out; something was out there that I just haven’t stumbled upon yet. I kept pushing, trying new venues. After about three months, a temp-agency offered a day-job opportunity regardless of its irrelevance to my field.
There is always information to be learned, and knowledge to be gained. This manufacture processed it’s orders locally, built it’s products in-house, and distributed internationally–all with less than a dozen local employees. I began my training with the mindset as an aspiring entrepreneur, to not only observe but to obtain a hands-on experience of how a business is ran. After I was given a tour and demo of the shop-floor production, I knew immediately there was another opportunity to be had and inquired the possibility of using the shop equipment after hours. With access to a bandsaw, flat sander, edge sander, drill press, and a clean, safe working space, my side hustle began a new stage in it’s life.
Around November 2016 I made a decision that took a small act of courage–I decided to start believing in myself and taking my work, my passion, my dream seriously. I purchased a workbook for entrepreneurs and a large reference guide packed with publication venues and artistic opportunities.
January 2017 I applied to Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Art Festival. The previous July, during a spur of the moment visit with the best of company, I was taken aback by the honest and true craftsmanship that fled the city streets. I finally discovered a creative community in which I admired and shared their same beliefs. This festival became my first goal to publicize my side hustle.
By the tail end of January 2017 I was laid-off from the comforting confines of my day-job. Just like clockwork, the job hunt was on once again. That very night, as I sat at the dinner table with my family, I revisited an application I had been saving and stated to myself without doubt, “I’m going to apply to this.”
A month later, and a little bit of rework on my passion project proposal (from my TRAF application) I submitted an application hours before the deadline with confidence–though not specifically in the lifetime opportunity I was directly applying for, but the dream I was finally developing into a tenaciously obtainable goal.
/EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON/
Beginning of March I reached out to another, local art festival only to find out there is a waiting list for applications as they circulate the same artists from the previous year, first. A few days later I received my rejection email from the Three Rivers Arts Festival. I simply reassured myself (just as before) that something better was in store. I wasn’t going to let this stop me so quickly and I would continue trying and reaching out.
The following week I received yet another email. This time from a woman named Heidi, requesting a phone interview regarding my Adobe Creative Residency application. In that very moment, even if I did not make the cut in the end, the simple fact that a huge, international company on the other side of the country wanted to take the time to call and talk about my work was THE feat within itself. And this was it, that something I knew I would find.