You there: stop. Are you happy with where you stand right now? And I don’t mean behind your screen reading this, I mean generally with your life and purpose. Not crazy happy but do you feel like you are on your way?
“Do what you love”. “ Be who you are”. “ You only live once”. If it is not a parent, a friend or the internet, we generally all know we should be enjoying life and aspire to what we want to do. But are you? Because I found that in life it is easy to get carried away and end up somewhere so far from where you wanted to be by then. Here I will tell you how I changed from being an average student feeling lost to an aspiring art director, graphic designer & blogger. When going after what you really want, three obstacles can get in the way: yourself, society and other people.
One day I was walking around on the University campus where I studied and felt like an imposter. I was 20 and felt like I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Not for a lack of trying: it was already my third discipline in the last two years… Being an ambitious person, I’ve had an existential crisis. I’m not for labelling things but I literally did not see the purpose of my life anymore. While from the outside: everything just seemed fine for most. I had lots of friends, lots of free time to go out, studies that were interesting, a place of my own. What on earth was the matter with me? Why could I not just be freaking happy?
Everyone was going somewhere. I could see where my life was taking me: partying every night until I got drunk. Meanwhile studying for exams on subjects that were interesting (yet did not set me on fire) to get a piece of paper. To end up in a company performing a job anyone could do and then get drunk in my free time with friends laughing about who I once wanted to be. You see for as long as I can remember I always have this maddening addiction to express myself by creating things whether it be in words or images. I did not want to end up doing a job as a manager somewhere in a business. But I never had any art education before, my creativity had been disregarded during years of high school and university. Did I have what it takes?
A lot of people are lost. They want something, yet do not dare to get it. Their version of who they are is so different from who they want to be. Two ways to handle this. Flee or fight. When one does not find it possible to become who they want to be, they flee. From getting drunk, to addictions to even suicide. The other option is to fight. Usually this happens when one sees it possible. Let me tell you this: everything is possible. Unless you want to become an alien. It all just depends on what you want to sacrifice and how patient you want to be. Another thing: nobody is born the person they aspire to be. Stop making excuses like: I do not have the time, I don’t believe in myself,… If you don’t, who will? Unfortunately, this is a mad world that keeps on spinning and no one is waiting for you.
That moment I walked around the campus, I decided it was time to take fate into my own hands.
If you feel lost in life like I did, let me advise you: stop. Take two days off. The first obstacle is yourself.
I took two days off where I had no obligations. Just me and the silence. During this time I had the liberty to do want I want. This is crucial. Take two days off and note down what you choose to do. For me it was creative writing, drawing, researching ideas and catching up on things like filmmaking, art, literature,… The activities you perform then, are usually things you do naturally. Make these activities your goal! For whenever others will bring you down, you will just keep on going. When Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, he just kept on going. Without any hope of getting back to the same level, he continued just because he did it naturally.
From there, I decided I wanted to become an art director and a writer. During the next six months, I looked up for schools where I could develop these skills. Which brings me to the other two obstacles. The other two obstacles are society and the people around you.
Society loves to preach silly quotes but always has a certain “expectation tag” on them. Do what you love, yet earn a good living. Be who you are, but don’t be too different. You only live once, yet be successful. We live in this “happy” world, where everything needs to be perfect and where we always need to show we’re amazing. Screw that. Dare to do the impossible and fail epically. Get out of your comfort zone. Dare to admit you made a mistake and keep on going. Do not get imprisoned by society’s expectations for people who actually “made it” never followed its rules. Some never earned a university degree, others were depressed for years and so it goes on.
After six months, I found a school where I pictured myself…in another city where I knew no one. Which brings me to the last obstacle: people. Some people around you, will want you to stay exactly who you are. Others can not imagine who you can be. Or maybe just don’t want you to be that: screw them. If I would tell those people three years ago what I have become now, nobody would have believed me. If you feel useless in what you are doing now and know what your passion is, just do it. The people who actually matter will stay. Because in the end: we are all alone. All of your friends will go their own way at some point. Your lives will change and the only ones worth having around are those who value your friendship enough. Will your friendship change? Yes. Will it end? No. Have a purpose in life, don’t make other people your purpose.
Three years ago I arrived in an advertising and design school in a city where I knew no one.
It has not been easy. Being in a city where you have to start all over again. Arriving as an aspiring creative with only mad ideas and no skills to prove it. Constantly working to become better. In the meantime working on side projects to get noticed. Living in between two cities. It has been three years of challenge. But it has been worth it. I finally get to do what I love, and even when things get rough, I will keep doing what I do naturally: create.
Three years later, I’m a third year student in Advertising and Digital Design, getting ready to do an internship abroad. Meanwhile I get to do workshops in Brussels, London, Shanghai where in London I won a prize. Next to this I hold a blog Alphabet of Our Time which has been read in about 25 countries. From being a usual blond party girl with no purpose to this, it has been a journey. More importantly I became the type of person I wanted to be. Now human nature is never satisfied: it has to keep going up like Gatsby would say. But I will get there for now I believe in where I am going.
So in the end you need to remember this: find your passion, make your passion your goal, dare to stand alone and go after it no matter what. Be patient and work hard: every little weird step will get you where you need to be. The silly little quotes are true, yet you need to rip off the “expectation tag”. Dare to become who you want to be: it is YOUR life and no one will do it for you.
© Camille Van den Bogaert
Camille is one of the most talented writers that I have ever had the lucky of meeting, a good friend of mine from when we first met 5 years ago, it’s been incredible watching her grow into a fine writer. Her blog Aphabet of Our Time is definitely worth a read and I urge you to subscribe to her blog.