Back when I was in 1st grade, my mom received a phone call that I’d won a toy kitchen for my drawing in a coloring contest at a local grocery store. I was beyond excited that someone had recognized my passion and hard work, and to this day it remains the one thing I’ve ever won. It wasn’t until years later that I found out my Grandpa had entered the same contest, and it was his submission that actually won. So, my entire life is a lie. Fast forward to life, postpartum. And although I have a fulfilling career and home life, I’ve always wondered what life would be like had I pursued that passion.
As a kid, I loved to draw. I would draw and sketch animated characters whenever I possibly could, and was obsessed with Disney. Whenever someone asked me the big question of “what do you want to be when you grow up,” I always had the same answer: a Disney animator. I thought it would be amazing to sit at a messy desk all day, forgetting time existed, drawing characters that people would find memorable. I would carry my sketchbook around like a security blanket, too shy to show anyone who showed even a remote interest. But when it came time to choose a career path, I chose a wonderful Fine Arts program at a local college in addition to my more practical choice of majoring in English. Instead of making a bold move and venturing out on my own, I stepped back. I was intimidated.
I ended up not pursuing a more specialized program in art for a few reasons. As an only child and introvert, I was hesitant to pick up and go off to school far from home; as an absolute perfectionist, I felt paralyzed to really give it a fair chance. Sometimes, I can’t bring myself to start a project unless I can do it 100% perfectly (and if I’m being honest, it’s just an excuse not to start). As a way to keep a tie with my true passion, I majored in an art program that perhaps wasn’t as aligned with my original dream. And now that it has been over 15 years since graduation, one thought remains: “Is it worth starting again?”
First and foremost, it’s important to allow a little grace for this thing called Life. It can throw you on different paths, for better or worse. Truth be told, I have never once regretted the courses I took in college, or the friends I’ve made, or the feeling of accomplishment that came with the senior art exhibit. All of it just led up to today, where I can choose to pursue what I want with a more singular focus. It’s rare to get something exactly right the first time around. Often, people in pursuit of what they love keep changing their strategy until they find something that works. Pivoting, until they find just the right thing and everything clicks into place.
I could find a million excuses to not draw every day. I have two small children. I work 2nd shift. I still have to balance a marriage, friendships, family, birthdays and holidays, exercise, home maintenance, and mental health. I’m sure there’s more I just can’t remember right now. Ultimately, going back to the drawing board doesn’t mean that you got it wrong. Every day is a chance to refocus and find a way to get it done instead of finding a reason not to. Pursuing your passion is worth the time, every time.
Lately, I’ve been drawing with my kids, letting them paint and get as messy as they like. I try to meet them in the stage they’re in now and do something I love at the same time. Little by little, we’re all learning to live in the moment and just have fun with the creative process – and that has been the most worthwhile pursuit of all.
Mommin’ ain’t easy, but you’re not in it alone. Check out this article for a funny take on parenthood.