"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain
6:45am. In the next hour, I will rise from my bed, drink a cup of coffee, watch a few minutes of news on the television, and get ready to head out the door to open up shop at a major retail chain down the street from my house. The moment I exit my front door, thoughts of stock counts, refund procedures, and commission goals flood my head. "I really hope no one pays with a check today because I'll have to call my manager at home to have her handle it," is foremost in my mind. Working as a retail sales associate, these are the most important things for me to think of in my day. They're important to my job, they're important to my manager, they're important to the company. But they're not important to who I am. What is important to who I am? Creativity. Performance. Artistry. Expression. None of those things will be catered to during my day as I head to my reliable, socially-acceptable retail job. I frequently ask myself, "What if they could be a part of my day?" without much further thought. Until one day, I decided to turn the "What if?" into "How can I make this real?" and never looked back.
Three years after making that decision, I have already stepped more than just my big toe into my biggest dreams and passions as an artist and a performer. It took me years to fully commit to making artistry my life as well as a move 8000 miles away from home, but I can say now it was the greatest decision - albeit the biggest leap of faith - I ever took.
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
Pursuing your dreams in any field can be an immeasurably scary task. Seemingly infinite questions and concerns plague most people as they venture from what they know into what they have only dreamed of. For artists, those questions and concerns can appear even more intimidating when facing the drastic differences that come with a life in creativity versus a life bound by societal rules, set schedules, and conformity. Artists tend to see the rest of society swimming swiftly with the current in the river of life without issue but yet for us? Swimming in that river is a treacherous task that can render our creative dreams and ambitions lifeless. So we must break free. We must swim against the current. In that current, the greatest challenge we face in escaping the torrent of "normal life" in favor of a creative one? Is ourselves. So have courage. Be brave. Make the choice to do what makes you happy, not what society says should make you happy. Choose to pursue what you are meant to do, not what other people say you should do. When you open yourself to the reality that it can be achieved? Nothing is impossible.
"The only thing that stands between a man and what he really wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible." - Richard DeVos
As we journey forward on our creative life paths, there will always be those that doubt us. There will always be those that do not - and will never - understand. They may come in the form of people we consider friends, our family members, our peers: the very people who should support us the most. They may tell us we are merely daydreamers, that we are unrealistic, and that we are wrong. But we - you, me, and all of us in the artistic community - are the ones that make daydreams reality, challenge the unreal to achieve new heights once unfathomed, and show the world that things are not simply black and white - but full of color. We are the ones that dreamed airplanes into life and gave the world flight. We are the ones that refused to listen to the naysayers and in turn connected people the world over through tales of wizards, witches, dwarves, and dragons. We are the ones that envisioned a way to share artists and their art through the very platform you're reading this on right now. With so many brilliant facets of life created by people like us, why do we yield to those who say we shouldn't create them? Embrace yourself as an artist for you are special. You are someone who can bring color to life, wonder to the jaded, and vibrancy to a world dulled by normality. Be yourself by being an artist and bring about the change you wish to see in the world around you.
"Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip-toe if you must, but take a step." - Naeem Callaway
Regardless of what creatively-driven field you might be aspiring to enter, the first step is always the same: make the decision to go for it! No matter what concerns you may have? Your happiness, well-being, and overall fulfillment in life are at the core of that decision. It may take some time to figure out how you're going to chase down your dreams, but never go back on the reasons why you are chasing them in the first place.
If you're in need of some extra encouragement as you face your artistic journey ahead, check out these links for some motivation from other creative souls who are living proof that art as a life path can be a successful and rewarding one:
Neil Gaiman's 2012 Keynote Address at the University of the Arts ~ UArts.edu
An utterly inspirational speech by author Neil Gaiman on having art as your life path, making art over money, and breaking free of the rules that bind us in society. A must-watch for anyone struggling with motivation, justification, or confidence when it comes to their life with any artistic endeavor.
Jim Carrey's 2014 Commencement Speech at the Maharishi University of Management ~ MUM.edu
Another commencement speech - this time by actor Jim Carrey - that was the unequivocal turning point for me when I saw this 1-minute except on YouTube in June 2014. Heavily wavering on the fence between "should I?" or "shouldn't I?" with my own career as an actor when this speech was made, the day I saw this was the day I made the decision to go for my dream 100%, as this was just the push I needed. I am sure others will benefit from his encouragement, too!
What happens when you follow your dreams ~ WorldOfWanderlust.com
Written by successful travel blogger Brooke Saward, this article tackles the most common questions and concerns people have when deciding whether or not to go after their dreams. Saward talks about taking leaps of faith into the unknown and finding true happiness by following her heart instead of society's rules. A great read for those who need motivation to trust their passions.
"While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." - Steve Jobs
The success stories of those who made art their life path are all around us. From someone like myself who has just started down the path to other fellow deviants who are further down the road than I am, there are tales of encouragement and truth to be found everywhere. DeviantArt, this community we have all created, is an incredible resource for all of us to motivate, support, and help one another as we strive to be who we truly are: artists. If you have a story to share about taking the blind leap, following your passion, and making art your path in life? Share it with others to ensure that no artist shuts their creativity out and the world remains a colorful, inspired place where anything and everything is possible.