As a child, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say a bird. As a teen, I would say a fashion designer. While I want to tell you that I fully believed in this future for myself and that I had a team of family and friends rallying behind me with encouragement, I didn’t. All I knew at 14 years old was that I thought I could draw (a little) and that I desired so much to dress like the girls in Seventeen magazine.
A family friend invested in my future and purchased a sketchbook for me. I felt on top of the world because “Mr. JoJo” not only gave me the sketchbook, but he presented me with ideas of what my future would like as a budding artist. He told me he would pay me for the drawings I created in the sketchbook. Shortly after, Mr. JoJo passed and it left a hole in my heart.
Mr. JoJo said all I needed to hear in order to keep reaching for what seemed to be a hard to attain dream. I began to draw girl after girl, lady after lady… I remember what I saw in my head not exactly formed on the page, nevertheless I was still proud. Proud, until I showed a few close to me what I created and they laughed… uncontrollable laughter in some instances, asking me questions like, “What’s that on her neck?” or making statements like, “You know you read and write real well. You should focus on that.” I kept my composure externally and defensively explained my visions and illustrations. Internally, I was crushed.
In high school I was excited to take art as an elective. I also thought that my art teacher was beautiful, an adult version of the teen girl with designer tees and boots and sun-kissed ringlets in Seventeen magazine. I desired so much for my teacher to see my potential and be a voice that would encourage me to pursue my dream. She taught a lot about realistic drawing and pencil shading. We often spent days on one picture before moving on. When I thought I was finished she would tell me to go back and add more shading. I did all that she asked but my highest grade on any piece would be an 98%. Outside of not earning a 100%, I sat at a table with upperclassmen who complained of not needing the art class for their future career or not having on enough mascara…
This led to me giving up on art, creativity and my dream… it took me down a path of obtaining an English degree, a teaching masters degree and completing doctoral classes for educational leadership. Do I like youth? Yes. Do I like teaching? Loved it, depending on the day. Do I like creating still? Absolutely!
I found ways to do what I love and be happy…
1. Invest in Yourself. Many will say that they want to design clothes but not own a sewing machine. Some will say they want to learn how to draw but never take an art class. I have purchased so many crafty things, taken classes, watched videos and more to build my wealth of creative knowledge. There is no use in saying what you want to do but cannot fully pursue due to a lack of investment. (Thanks Mr. Jojo!)
2. Turn criticism into courage. My early drawings were laughed at but I had the courage to keep drawing and even improve the criticized parts of my drawings. One of the people who laughed actually held on to some of my work and gave it back to me as an adult. The returned images I created in high school are displayed throughout this blog post. Keep doing whatever is on your heart to do no matter who approves, yourself included.
3. Turn the negatives into positives. Instead of becoming a fashion designer I became a fashion blogger. I don’t make the clothes but I can certainly style them! I also taught myself how to do hand lettering, bible journaling, mixed media and more. Today, I sell and share images of my work online. 2 decades later, I feel that I now fulfill my creative purpose.
Whatever you desire, the Bible says the Lord will give you as long as you DELIGHT in Him! (Psalm 37:4)