When I was little, I felt the pressure to blend in with my classmates when my teachers asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. I’d absentmindedly repeat what everyone expected me to become, “a teacher”.
Exploring My Potential
At a young age, I taught kids from low-income neighborhoods how to read and write. I really enjoyed the experience; it was not only humbling, but very fulfilling. This is how my family and friends came to think of me as a teacher. I absolutely loved it, but I always felt like I could do more. Yet, my career options were limited – or so I thought at the time.
Growing up, I was never encouraged to challenge the status quo. That applied to my career as I thought having a traditional profession was the only way to success. Despite that mindset, I jumped on every opportunity to release my potential. I created a few side hustles, which I documented here. I participated in extracurricular activities and cultivated hobbies.
Articulating My Vision
At 13, I knew how to draw, paint and write poetry. I was also learning how to design clothes and sew. While this gave me a better sense of who I wanted to become, I was still not able to articulate it. It contrasted with my parents’ expectations and deviated from mainstream careers. Fear kicked in and I chose to conform to the existing paradigm.
I didn’t have the courage to completely rebel so I struck a happy medium. I majored in neuropsychology and minored in creative writing and media studies. I needed to nurture the side of my brain that craved creativity. By that time, I knew I wanted to create stuff for a living. While taking organic chemistry and molecular genetics, I ran a lifestyle blog and started a YouTube channel with my sister. I stubbornly fought to keep my passions alive. I had a genuine interest in the brain and its role in behavior, but I couldn’t see myself following that path after graduation. So I built up the courage to tell my parents I was choosing differently. Few people approved my decision, but there was no turning back. It was intrinsic to being who I am. I felt alone in my quest, but I didn’t let the naysayers stop me. I have since dedicated myself to the pursuit of what I love.
Owning My Dreams
Just because people don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Your dreams don’t have to make sense to anyone. We all have unique talents and the potential to live the life we want, but too often we choose to fit in a box for the sake of safety. We ignore our inner voice and do what’s expected of us, knowing we need more to be happy. We can always tell when something is not meant for us, yet we let fear hinder us. Fear of failure. Fear of disappointing the people around us. Or maybe we lack confidence in our abilities. As Robert Kiyosaki said in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, excessive fear and self-doubt are the greatest detractors of personal genius.
Let that sink in…
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years. I know that I’m fueled by doing different things, which makes me the perfect mutlipotentialite. I’m seeing some success with what I’m doing, but not that’s the most important thing to me. The best part is that I’ve learned so much from the process that I’m fine with any outcome. Obviously, I want everything to work out, but it’s not a zero sum game to me. I will win either way because of developing a growth mindset.
Think about it. You take a risk and decide to carve your own path. What’s the worst-case scenario? Failure? Embarrassment? You’ll survive. When your self-worth is validated by an outcome, you remove the possibility to learn from every experience. Every new venture provides information that will allow you to grow. As with everything in life, finding yourself is about the process. Be brave. Take small steps in challenging your fear and give yourself the chance to be.