Last month, I quit my full-time job with benefits to draw pictures.
I know this screams “mid-life crisis”, but it’s actually the sanest decision I’ve ever made.
In life, there’s never a single, easy explanation for why we make the choices we make. It’s usually a multitude of reasons that build up and culminate into a big decision. Dropping out of college in the first place wasn’t the wisest decision, but it was purposeful in its own right. There were many reasons for abandoning my art degree at the time: curiosity, money troubles, an anti-authority attitude masked as DIY-ethic, and a need to escape the pigeonhole… I used to tell myself that I hadn’t actually abandoned art: that art was meant to be passionate and free, and that I was better off creating art as a hobby than selling out. I’ve grown up a lot since then.
After failing my first year trying to become a successful freelancer, I began studying emergency medicine and eventually phlebotomy. I’ve devoted years to finding my niche, climbed my way up in my field and co-lead a phlebotomy team at a busy donation center, yet my sketchbooks collect dust and my dreams remain unfulfilled. The fact of the matter is, trying to be a successful medical professional and a successful artist has been like trying to live two separate lives in the course of one lifespan. I can potentially excel at one, or I can spread myself too thin and be mediocre at both.
I’ve effectively proven to myself that I can accomplish more–become more–than just what naturally came easy. I’ve acquired skills, leadership and an entirely new trade. I succeeded. And these experiences have become an essential part of my identity. But this part of my story is over.
And it’s not that I would have been completely UNhappy stopping here. I just want to be happiEST.
Don’t think for a moment that this isn’t absolutely the most terrifying and uncertain decision I’ve ever made–because it is. But it’s also the most wonderful one. Because this week, three days after my 29th birthday, I started my Junior year of college.
If you ever find yourself stranded off the beaten path: don’t ever allow yourself to think its too late or too shameful to find your way back home. Just say you took the scenic route.