At 25, I was cocky enough to think I had life all figured out. I wasn't entirely wrong, but I certainly wasn't right. I got trapped into an ideal that we all must follow one path... that there's only one future to strive for.
My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away within a month. I poured all my heart and soul into my career thinking it was the only thing that mattered. It never stopped being important to me. Eventually, I found myself exhausted and in tears - hyper-analyzing every decision made and every word I said, anxiety searing the scars of my critique into my very being like hydrochloric acid... and then something broke.
I realized after my father died, I had stopped doing many of the things I loved. I wrote only out of necessity. Art took a back seat to my anxiety. I hadn't opened my planner in months. I hadn't bought my fishing license. I wasn't living the way that I wanted to — things were missing. There were poems I needed to write and stories that needed telling. There was so much art that I wanted to create.. so many dreams I needed to follow.
Eventually, I was able to break through the fog. I began to understand the joy of doing things simply in order to experience the process. I began to understand how passion and skills break through and create growth - even when everything feels stagnant. I found the voice I had lost and learned once again how to advocate for myself. No matter how dark things become at times, never lose hope.