By Project MyStory Blogger, Tiffany Araya.
If you’ve been following my work, you have heard me talk a lot about “following your dream,” living the life that you want to live rather than following a path that has been set out for you. This could mean a lot of different things depending on who you are and the endeavors you are currently pursuing. This could mean a story that many of us are familiar with: you want to be an artist but you don’t want to be “starving” so you’re enrolled in the business program instead. You want to write “the next great novel” so you chose the English major but everyone thinks you should be a teacher instead. Everyone is in your ear telling you to be “realistic,” some people favor “practicality” so they want to push that on you. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a teacher or earning a business degree and most of these people mean you no harm, but the simple matter is that not all of us have the same perception of what is “realistic” and some of us care very little for “practicality.”
“If you’re anything like me, you want the kind of life that everyone thinks only exists in dreams, the kind of life that people think only happens to others.”
If you’re anything like me, you want the kind of life that everyone thinks only exists in dreams, the kind of life that people think only happens to others. You don’t want the kind of life that you just “get used to.” You want to live exactly the kind of life that you want, doing what you want to. But maybe you don’t know where to start. If you have an idea but you’re unsure of what to do next, this list may be for you. This list may not be for everyone, but I hope that whoever reads this can find something useful to their own life.
Some of you may not want to give something up if it feels more secure and carries less risk. This is totally understandable. Some people dive right in but others need time to figure it all out before they step out of their comfort zone. I will be listing 5 simple steps that you can take to start pursuing your passion today, even while you earn your degree or work your everyday job.
- Identify your dream/passion: This seems obvious but it is quite a
significant step. This step can be complicated because some of us may confuse our “practical” goals with our dreams and passions. For example, you may want to be hired to work at a prestigious law firm. This is a wonderful goal to have. But maybe deep down you really
want to open your own firm with your name on it. That is a dream. You might have to dig deep for this one. Some of our dreams have been buried so far down, stifled by external doubts and insecurities, that you might not even remember what once ignited your passions. Or perhaps you already know but you’re too scared to admit it. You’ve been so busy telling yourself that it’s foolish to think about it, that it’s unrealistic to try. I’ll have to use a tried and true cliché for this: Listen to your heart. When you’re doing something that excites you in a way that little else does, tune in.
- Gather/Find your “squad”: This step will be different for everyone. For example, when I had the idea to start writing a lifestyle blog, I knew that it would be better if there was a whole team of people to create a variety of content, so I asked my friends one by one if they would be interested in being part of this project. I was lucky because I knew that each of my friends had something special to offer and they were excited to be part of the website.
If you’re trying to create an app, you might need a team of people that can contribute different things like someone to do coding, and someone to design. Or maybe there’s already a team of people that exist (like a student organization) doing exactly what you’re interested in that you can join. Perhaps you prefer to work on your project solo; your “squad” may be people who you admire that you follow on social media or watch on TV. Whoever it is (and however it is), it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people who can help guide you through the process and offer insight and support when necessary.
- Find your medium: There is a market for whatever it is that you want to do and that market is waiting for you to reach out to them. It is important to identify the perfect way to reach your market. There are thousands of ways to reach your target audience and it is up to you to figure that out based on the kind of service, product, or whatever it is that you want to provide. I’ll share a few specific examples: If you’re a writer, WordPress is a great place to share your work with others because it’s easy (and free!) to create a website and post content to it. If you’re a makeup artist who wants to film tutorials, YouTube is the perfect place to post your videos, especially because that’s where most people are going to look! If you like to knit hats, scarves, blankets, etc. you might look into selling your products on etsy.com and promoting them through social media. Look around the Internet (or anywhere really) and pay attention to others who are already doing what you want to do so that you can learn more about the field and how to break in and make your own mark.
- Invest: This one simple word can be intimidating to many and can seem difficult, even impossible but it can make a big difference in your pursuit. Most of you are college students (and even if you’re not, you’re still on a tight budget) so spending money, especially on something that doesn’t seem that important is not something you want to do. However, I suggest that after careful examination of your passion, you determine what kinds of tools you might need to move forward. If you want to sell or display your artwork, it might be time to move those drawings from sketchbook to canvas. Invest. If you want to make a career out of your photography, you might need business cards to give people your information. Invest. When we started our lifestyle blog, we didn’t want “.wordpress.com” to be our URL. We invested a reasonable amount of money for the more official “.com.” If you need a briefcase, invest. If you need a new suit, invest. Whatever it is, reconsider some of your weekly expenditures, save your money, and find a way to fund your dream when it needs to be.
“A major part of your journey will be believing in yourself and your dream enough that it doesn’t matter what others think or say.”
- Spread the Word: This step means exactly what it sounds like. There are people out there who care about what you’re doing, whatever it is. Let them know you’re here! Get involved on social media if that will help your cause. Share your process with your friends and family who are already following you or create new accounts specifically for your project. It will feel good to receive support from others. But spreading the word is even bigger than posting stuff on social media. Spreading the word is a matter of universal energy. What do I mean by that? I know it sounds hokey but it’s really important. A major part of your journey will be believing in yourself and your dream enough that it doesn’t matter what others think or say. Be brave enough to tell your friends and family what you want to do. You may sound silly to them and they might not understand but that’s okay. Let the universe (or God, or whatever you believe in) know that you are ready to pursue your passion. Put that energy out into the world and you will see how everything seems to conspire in your favor (certainly not all the time and not always in the exact way you want, but enough to propel you forward). When you start speaking your passion out loud, you are declaring that you believe it is possible to accomplish what you want, and sometimes that is more than half the battle.
A lot of what I have written may seem specific to people with creative inclinations or people who are interested in entrepreneurial pursuits because I myself am part of that field. However, I think there is a way that each step can be interpreted and molded to fit anyone who is seeking an alternative career or lifestyle. I hope that this list can help you make sense of what you’re thinking and has inspired you to move forward with any ideas that intimidated you before. Good luck with your endeavors. Believe in yourself, and work hard to achieve your goals every day!
Tiffany Araya UAlbany Class of 2016 Major: English (Honors) Minor: Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies Project MyStory Theme: Dream Deferred Follow her personal blog at www.EattheCakeBlog.com