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How would I be satisfied?

Hi,
I’m a freshman in high school. Time is strange to me, this year had gone by fast. I will be in tenth grade next year and it’s scary. I mean I have no goals while everyone is running ahead already.
I don’t even think I will make it to college. What happens after that? What if I’m just going to waste my time and end up with student debt? Being an adult seems hard enough. It’s stupid but I’m scared to grow up. We all probably thought of that but how do I go to the right path? That’s a worry for me because I don’t want to mess up my life. I don’t want to fall behind or be unsuccessful.
I’m afraid that because of my indecisiveness and bad communication skills everything will go wrong. I mean I can’t even hold a good conversation with someone, or know what to say. It’s bad for me. And I understand that’s a key skill in being successful.

The only thing I’m decent at is art. Like, I usually like art but what if I just end up drawing in a studio 24/7 for the rest of my life with a low pay? I don’t want that. But I also don’t want to end up jobless. I’m slowly beginning to lose motivation in art as well. I’ve been drawing for years and haven’t been improving. Everyday feels the same to me, this might as well be what it’s like for the rest of my life. I feel it’s pointless to even try because nothing will satisfy me. I’m already losing my youth to a virus and many opportunities, I have no motivation. I’m frustrated because one gives me useful advice, no one really cares except for their own problems.

So please, I don’t know what to do. help scared


Michelle, you are incredibly brave and thoughtful for sharing your challenges. You have received some amazing advice from the CareerVillage community. Soak in the great advice and encouragement and create those opportunities by believing in yourself. This is step 1. You've got a lot of great ideas for step 2. The main thing is that you keep moving! We are all rooting for you. yoonji KIM, CareerVillage.org Team

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Subject: Career question for you

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19 answers


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John’s Answer

Michelle artistry is an ability that does not come naturally to many, so your ahead of the game for a career as an artist. However, many artists find that education and training can help them fine-tune techniques or learn specialized skills that may make them more employable. Formal art education and training may be obtained in several ways. Artists with a knack for drawing and design can pursue an associate's degree in graphic design or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a focus in graphic design to launch their careers in the field. Everywhere you look, you'll see the work of a graphic designer. From advertising to Facebook, from product packaging to the cover of your favorite magazine - almost everything that we take for granted in our visual worlds comes from the hidden hand of a graphic designer.

Graphic designers are creative individuals who use text and images - either computer-generated or hand drawn - to express ideas. They work largely in marketing, advertising, or publication, collaborating with writers, art directors, and sales professionals. The common requirements for graphic designers are a bachelor's in graphic design, strong computer skills, and a diverse portfolio. These qualifications, along with several years of experience in the field, can set you up as a graphic designer up for several different career advancement options Michelle. Graphic designers mainly work in digital studios and companies that offer designing services. They can work in different industries such as marketing, advertising, clothes design, automotive, and publishing. Graphic designers can work for companies that provide designing services to their clients. Their workstations in these offices usually contain computers and drafting tables that are used when making digital and freehand designs. Graphics designers may also work in their own digital studios independently and provide customers with services related to digital design and artworks. Large production companies that sell various products such as clothing, shoes, appliances, vehicles, and other merchandise hires graphic designers as part of their marketing and advertising teams. Their role is to create images that will be used in highlighting the company's product to increase sales and profits. Graphic designers can also join publishing companies that produce multimedia prints in the form of magazines, newspapers, or websites. Graphic designers use their expertise in art and digital software to create designs for themes and images that will be used as content for these publications.

Draw on your experience Michelle

John recommends the following next steps:

Multimedia Artist and Animator – Similar to a graphic designer, a multimedia artist and animator uses both hand-illustrated and computer-generated images to produce a final product; the distinction, however, is that this final product is animated rather than static. Multimedia artists and animators design for video games, movies, or television, usually specializing in their chosen area. A bachelor's degree in a design-related field, such as graphic design or animation, is recommended. Proven computer skills, specifically with animation applications, and a strong animation portfolio are also a must in this competitive field.

Thank you Dexter for your continued support. Success means doing the best we can with what we have. John Frick

Thank you Kim for your continued support. We never know when a helping hand will change another person's entire life. John Frick

Thank You Mark. At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back. John Frick

Thank You Kellee. Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place. John Frick

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Jason’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

There has been some excellent advise given to your post already, I suggest reading them all. I would specifically like to add a couple thoughts to a theme that both Neo and Rose mentioned - the danger of comparing ourselves to others. You are a unique and amazing person - Don't believe me? - just ask me I'll tell you. It is completely normal as a teen to look around and compare yourself to others. Unfortunately when we do that people generally gravitate to one of two patters of thought.

1st, Some people see other peoples strengths, talents, and abilities and then we compare them to our weaknesses and then get depressed or discouraged when we don't measure up. These type of people often downplay their own talents as useless or whatever. This is a faulty comparison and does not give us any real sense of direction or motivation.
On the other hand, the 2nd group tend to look at other peoples weaknesses or perceived failings and then we compare them to our accomplishments, successes and strengths. The outcome here is a false sense of superiority and egotism. In this scenario we are blinded by our own hubris and left oblivious to our own areas of need.

There is a far better comparison that we can make. It starts with a correct understanding of who we want to become. This is not a career decision as much as it is a character evaluation. What kind of person do you want to be? It can help to look around at people who you admire. What characteristics to you appreciate about them? Chances are there are people who help you, acknowledge you, or motivate you to be your best self. What is it about these people that cause you to feel this way? - These are likely the characteristics that matter most to you and are worthy of emulation. Create in your own mind a vision of the type of person who you want to become. Once you have established that in mind - start working to develop into this type of person. Evaluating where you are now compared to who you want to become will more accurately illuminate where changes are needed and where improvement is occurring. This becomes a lifetime quest and is not tied to arbitrary timeframes.

Success is becoming what you choose to become, regardless of societal norms and public opinion. It really does not matter what others do or don't do, you can be happy and successful by your own definition. When we understand this reality, we begin to leave the "rat-race" and start living on our own terms.

You are clearly a talented and introspective person with a bright future ahead of you - if you choose it. Don't waste your time and energy comparing and despairing.

Best of luck to you!

"Success is becoming what you choose to become, regardless of societal norms and public opinion. It really does not matter what others do or don't do, you can be happy and successful by your own definition. " and that's the key to happiness! Well-said! Kim Igleheart

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Mark’s Answer

Hi Michelle!

You are not alone! I have three children of my own. Two have graduated and one is still in college . My middle child went through what you're going through. It's like, wait a minute!! Can I have another 4 years to figure out what I want to do? I'm not ready! Sound familiar?

You have three years before you graduate and you're thinking about it now, so don't be too hard on yourself. My daughter was a senior when it hit her! There are several things you can start on now. First, talk to your high school career counselor. It sounds like you're already thinking about what you like to do. You also need to look at what you're strengths are. Remember, you're not alone. You need a mentor. You need coaches. We all do! Even in my 50s I have mentors. Don't be afraid to approach adults in your life that you know and respect. You might meet someone in a part time job over the next couple of years. Or you may know someone from church or even a school teacher, an aunt or uncle.

Planning is key. However, don't expect to plan it all out this week. It takes time. it's a process. You should plan on college. There are a wide variety of benefits that come with earning a college degree. These days, a college degree is often a minimum requirement for a job. Or if you have a job, not having an education or degree might hold you back from being promoted. Having a degree increases the number of career opportunities you'll be qualified for. Typically, jobs requiring a degree tends to offer higher paying salaries than jobs that don't require a degree.

If you have a passion for art, that's a start. What type of art? To me that means you're a creative type. Do you like to write? Are you into digital art? Have you done any web design? Have you done any video work? If the answer is no, I'm only a freshman!! That's ok. This is just things to think about. Even if you haven't figured it out by the time you start college, that's ok. You don't have to declare a major right away. Many people start college and have a major picked out only to discover, they don't want to be a school teacher or a doctor, etc.

You're going to learn so much and mature so much in the next three years, so don't sweat it. The fact that you're already thinking about it, is a great sign!

Have fun in high school!! Learn everything you can! You'll use it later in life!

Good luck!! I hope this helps!
Mark

Thank you Kellee!! Mark Morgan

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Gregory’s Answer

First, take a moment to breathe, long deep inhale and exhale. It’s going to be okay. Even though there are some who have a plan, most of your peers feel the same as you do - and that’s ok. This last year was a difficult year for all of us. It’s a once in a lifetime year, so don’t focus on the amount of progress you made. For you, you’re blessed with a do-over.

There’s two things that I want you to focus on, Art and Communication. Most of us are way too hard on ourselves. We are better than we think. Continue to focus on your art and practice communicating with others. Ask a friend or teacher to give you a topic to draw and talk about.

I grew up with a speech impediment. I saw a speech therapist every week from. Pre-K to 3rd grade. It wasn’t until college that a professor help me realize that knowing “what to say” made “how you say it” much easier and less nerve racking. Even today, I practice saying certain words-saying “ethnicity” trip can easily trip me up. Make an appointment with your school counselor and see if there are opportunities to participate in a mentoring program for career and Communication. Also ask about club activities where you can meet with other students.

Lastly, don’t stress over the future. If you continue in Art and you’re passionate about art, the income will follow along with different opportunities. I know it’s hard to say, but don’t stress too much. You have so much time to figure this out.
You got this!

Gregory recommends the following next steps:

Talk to your school counselor
Practice communicating via YouTube
Practice art techniques via YouTube
Check out your local library for resources and inspiration
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Dexter’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

There are some really good answers on this question, but wanted to throw in my opinion.

I think it reflects well that you are afraid. It means that you are able to think to the future and imagine yourself with your current skills being an adult. One flaw in this is that you won't be yourself in the future. You'll be a different version of you. Whether you want to or not, you will have more skills, you will be wiser, and you will find more things to be afraid of, and it's okay.

Just know that it's a human tendency to imagine that the current self is our best self, and that the current self is the "real" you. This is not true. Human beings are creatures who changes much more than we think. And because you'll change, you'll adapt to the future that you see before you.

I think much of human fear comes from the fact that once we know enough, we can see the depths of what we don't know. And knowing that we know so little definitely scary. I can tell you that with experience, you won't be afraid. You'll find out, for yourself, the universal truth that no one knows very much. Even the smartest people don't really know know what they're talking about if they were forced to talk about things outside of their expertise. And just building that expertise takes so much time.

So, how do you overcome that fear. First, I would recommend reading a lot. Reading is different from other media in that you are able to see how a character thinks. For me, this helped a lot in validating how my brain worked and how I wasn't in a situation where I was lost more than ohers. Second, I would focus on what you love to do more than wha you're good/decent at. It took me forever to find out that although I was good with computers, I wasn't meant to be a programmer. What actually brought me joy was helping others and feeling like a good person because of it. Once I realized that, mapping out my career was a whole lot easier. Lastly, believe in yourself. If you are someone that is in 9th grade thinking about the future the way you're doing, you're way ahead of the pack. You are not being left behind by "everybody". I believe you're probably in the front of the pack somewhere focusing on those who you think are moving ahead. I would encourage you to experience different things in life so that you can find what you love doing, then pursue that. No one will be able to outshine you at what you love doing.

More more thing to think about is talking to trusted people in your life about the malaise you feel. If there isn't anyone you can trust in your life, I would recommend a therapist or even a school counselor. If they don't work out for you, find a mentor who can listen to you and give you ideas about things you can try. You'll find that the negative feelings that you have maybe rooted in something else entirely and that it's surfacing its negativity in other matters just to mess with you. I'm not sure if you can get rid of this rooted negativity, but once you really know what it is, you can plan for it, and you can learn to live with it.

Anyways Michelle, I hope this was helpful and I wish you well in the future. Remember, life is the greatest gift that anyone has given us. And if you want to cherish that gift, just remember that "Comparison is the thief of joy" and focus your attention on yourself. You'll realize that what you've been seeking your whole life was within you the whole time.

--
Dexter

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Barry’s Answer

Oh my goodness, Michelle! Please do not despair. Things happen for a reason. You might not understand the reason now, but the more you undertake, the more you WILL understand.

Here’s an example. In December of 1995, I found out from my employer that I had been passed over for promotion by someone with less seniority than I had - for the 16th time. I had been there for 3 years by that point.

You can imagine that my insides started to boil like water on the stove. I was just about to issue my resignation, go home to my parents’ house, and hit the reset button.

However, just an hour prior to that meeting, I heard my name paged over the internal public address system, that I had a call to answer. Now, this was before cell phones, and I did not have a desk extension. So the only way to reach me at work was to call the place’s main number and page me. As a newbie, though, if I got a call at work (which was never), it usually meant someone had died.

Well, the voice on the other end was an unfamiliar one. It was a girl I did not recognize. That phone call turned out to be the first conversation I ever had with my now-wife of 21+ years. It was a lovely chat which wound up taking juuuuuust enough of the edge off my fury later that I did not quit my job on the spot. I was still fuming, but I did not quit.

Though things did not improve at my job for quite a while (20+ years), staying there allowed me to start my family, and I cannot imagine life without my wife and son now. I never would have guessed in December of 1995 that my job, certainly not directly but in a roundabout way, would be the key to all the happiness I have ever wanted in my life.

The point is that things happen for a reason. You may not know that reason yet, but someday you will. Just keep at it. You’re doing great.

Barry Abrams
ESPN feature story producer
Voice-over narrator

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Kelly’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

I would say get out of your head and go do some kind of volunteer work or part-time job and this will jolt you out of putting entirely too much pressure on yourself, and help you make some connections. Just doing that will get you out and doing something that will allow you to give to others and not be so focused on fear. Churches frequently have charitable activities that you can help with, even if you're not Christian, you might find you enjoy the work. My opinion: Don't focus on taking your art and becoming a Graphic Artist or something like that unless you really feel quite sure about it - it's typically a very expensive degree, and instead, find something real, practical and hands-on that you can do now at the level that you're at and employ whatever type of creativity you can. Even if you go and find weekend work as an intern. Maybe you can help a local realtor volunteer to help them stage their properties for cheap? You might be able to charge them $10 an hour and make a nice part-time business out of it and put something on a resume with a real business reference. If you're not familiar with the concept of staging properties, do a quick Google search for what this is. It's a start on something artistic and something to keep you busy while you figure things out. Maybe you'll find that you want to do interior design - maybe you'll find that you want to sell furniture - who knows? And just FYI - not everyone needs to make $300,000.00 a year to be happy and satisfied. :) Nothing wrong with being "working class" and if that suits you then that is what is right for you. Everyone puts so much pressure on to have the "American dream" - get the college degree, have this kind of house, that kind of car, etc. etc. Just take one step at a time. :)

I hope this helps you.

Kelly Albright
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

Wow! You've assembled quite a team of experts here! I'm not sure I have much to add to that. Feel free to follow-up with these people if you have questions.

I'm going to take a totally different approach, only because everything I would normally say has already been said. First, it sounds like you are tired of art. That's okay. It could be it's time to step out of your "comfort zone." That could be by doing something different that is still art - such as clay. Or, perhaps something that is not art - such as joining the local Toastmaster group to develop public speaking (and self-confidence!) skills. The only way we grow is by taking on new challenges.

Secondly, I have a question. Do you use art as a psychotherapy? That is, do you go to your art when you are feeling sad, lonely, depressed? Is it like a teddy bear to you? It may be that because it gives you comfort, you don't want to "ruin" that by making it something you have to do every day 8-5.

Third, you need to realize that you have a talent - a gift. No, you aren't the best artist in the world. There will always be someone better than you. That's why you go to art shows and ask them about their technique! But, the easiest way to not feel inferior is to work with those who have less skill than you do - I'm talking about being an art teacher. Of course, you will still have to find ways to continue to grow professionally. But, by helping others, there is less feeling of being in a competition, and, we feel good about ourselves.

Please don't feel that you have to have all of life's answers right now. It all starts to come together after a while. Most people aren't true mature and functioning adults until somewhere around the age of 28 - there's a bit of a learning curve!

Kim

Great answer! Kelly Albright

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Sofia’s Answer

Hi Michelle L. 🙌🏻

Can’t go sleep without answering you.
It take a lot of courage to share our feelings sometimes, especially when we don’t feel good. So congratulations.
As you wrote time is strange, I agree with you. It is. There’s 3 dimensions of time: past, now and future.
Lets look at you now, at 9th grade … congratulations. You’ve been through a lot. Why don’t you say out loud “Congratulations, I’ve been through a lot”. Again, with more energy “Congratulations, I’ve been through a lot ”. That’s true and let’s embrace that.
Celebrate is really important, it make us be in the moment and realize all the path until now - the moment we’re in and the moment we can control.
Think in a great momentum of the past. Your past? How did you feel? Can you smile remembering it? Yeeees, you can.
And know think in a moment in the past where you didn’t know the answer? What happened? How have you’ve gone through ?! Have you gone through right?! I’m guess yes, cause you’re almost on 10th grade.
And you’re good with art. That’s great. And I’m gonna tell you a secret we can be good in everything we want - arts, communication, both. Skills are something we develop, not something we born with. It requires practice like sports. Don’t believe me? Can you picture these two examples?
A football player with 2000 goals in a career. How have this player started ?! With how many goals? With just 1 right?!
And … Someone that ran a morathon (42.2 km)? How has a baby become someone who can run so many km without stopping? When we born we’re not able to walk either. Run?! Crazy!! How do you think the runner started? With one step. Yeaaah, simple. Like everyone else.
And they didn’t become good overnight. It was a journey of accomplishing baby goals. With a lot of failures and also help of close people, friends and mentors 🙌🏻
What can you do today to improve your communication skills 1%? (If is something worth it for you and that would make you HAPPY)
yeah just one percent? Is it reading a page of a book? Is it talk 10 minutes with someone? Is it listen to someone 10 minutes? Think in a small goal for today and when done celebrate it 🎉
Enjoy the process and the moment you’re now.Because now is the only thing you control.
Future is a time we don’t know and we don’t crontol, but what we do know is what we choose to do today to become just a little better at something. Everyday . Like the runner and the football player. And like YOU

You’re not alone,
I’m here to support you 🙌🏻
Trying to give all my best
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Hank’s Answer

The interesting thing about life is: It's rarely accurately predictable. And you know, maybe you're a writer or a storyteller -- I read your comment which started all this off and it's both pointed and heartfelt. Not many high school freshman can express themselves so well. Just a thought.

What I have found in my considerably long life is that what you were doing around age seven -- I mean what you always found yourself drifting toward -- may be the thing you should consider. Me? I was making up stories and characters and actually acting them out. But it would be another forty years before I became a writer.

You don't ever have to do just one thing. You're still in "the age of exploration." And of course there's always the risk when you open the door to all possibilities that a lot of "junk" will come through that door. But that's okay because over time, you'll be able to sort the good stuff from the junk.

As you've likely heard: Every journey begins with a single step. What they don't tell you is there's, like, more steps after that first one. But do spend less time watching your feet and more time enjoying the scenery. And I guarantee you, you will find the thing that fuels your passion and makes you glad to be alive. And more than likely when and where you least expect it.

Oh would I ever change places with you in a heartbeat.
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Jeannine’s Answer

Hi Michelle,
Please do not feel pressure that you need to decide your future self at this age-this is a time in your life to explore, learn and have fun. If you keep thinking about tomorrow, you miss out on the present-and it is a present! If you could wave a magic wand, what would a great summer and a Sophomore year look like? Why not put a plan together around all the fun adventures you want to take, what you want to learn next year and any new friends you want to make? Think about what you liked Freshman year and do more of it! Draw it out, make it happen! Also, your future self will change and this is fine too-you may decide you want to teach art or be a docent in a museum in Italy, then five years later change careers and become a doctor. The beauty, you are empowered to be the best version of yourself, whatever you decide that is!

The most important advice I can give you is an education is the best investment you can make in yourself-it's for you and it's an investment that always will benefit you!!

Jeannine recommends the following next steps:

What are some classes that interest you in your school?
What is something new you want to learn next year?
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Kathy’s Answer

Hey Michelle, I coach high school students and help them find their career 'fit' through learning about their unique strengths. You are definitely NOT alone in feeling the way you do! Only a very small percentage of high school students have a set career goal in mind so don't fret that you are still undecided. Regarding wanting to be an Artist, there are many many ways to make this dream profitable if you decide this is what you want. I recommend that you take Graphic Art and Digital Media classes at school, and look for an ROP program where you can take classes while you are in high school (ROP programs are free to high school students but cost after you graduate!). Also, check out Dribbble as a fun website to check out art, and maybe get hired through that site. We have hired artists/graphic designers to do animation and other work through the site Fiver. Lastly, there are websites that specialize in helping teens and young adults figure the career thing out. I suggest that you check out GiveTeens20 (www.gt20.org), California Career Zone (cacareerzone.org), Road Trip Nation, and Gladeo. They all have free online assessments you can take and learn about yourself. All of the sites also have videos where they interview people succeeding in their careers. Check them out! There is a lot of opportunity going forward for people who want to hustle....and you can DO IT!!!

Kathy recommends the following next steps:

Volunteer with local Art societies, galleries, etc. and build your network within your community while getting volunteer experience.
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Rose Anne’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

First of all, whatever your feeling is really okay. Don't compare your success with others. Life satisfaction is being happy about your life and not measured by any career promotions or money. You will satisfied once you achieve happiness and peaceful in your life. I've been in the same profession for almost 8 years and been with 4 different companies within these years. Some of my colleagues whom I started my career were already senior managers but here I am still working as assistant manager but that didn't make me feel less because I am contented and I am happy. I am happy because I accepted it and I am happy because I am able to do other things outside work. Be happy on your current choice and enjoy life! :)
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Kenwyn’s Answer

Hi Michelle,
There is no "right" path. Follow your passion. A career is not all about making as much money as your best friend or neighbour is. People who love what they do are rewarded by their work not by a salary per se.

Do not be afraid to do things just because other people have not done it. Failure is sometimes a consequence of trying but it teaches what not to do on the next attempt and develops character.

Even if you decide to pursue a particular career if it does not bring what you expected of it feel free to persue another which will deliver your expectations.

What you deliver to society is uniquely yours so be the boss of you. Good luck.
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Ada’s Answer

Hello Sweetie and to anyone else who may be feeling unsure about the future. My advice is to first follow your heart. Don't follow a career because of money or because of prestige or because of pressure from others expectations of you. This is your life and you only get one. Two, art us so versatile. For example, marketing, all commercials, magazine ads, bill boards, even internet ads are all drawn up on renderings. Renderings are also used in real-estate and architecture design. There are so many different careers that utilize visual arts to capture the idea of what they are trying to sell, build, or create. Who do you think does those renderings. Creative like yourself. Just because your great at real-estate that doesn't mean you can sketch...you need to hire those types of people. So look into those careers and see if they are of interest to you and if they are bring yourself to learn more now.
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Neo’s Answer

First step to success is by not comparing yourself to others, for everyone runs their own race, you run yours as well. The other thing is you should not weigh your goal or success to money. Just focus on doing what you love, give it your best then the rest shall follow.. Who knows! Maybe art is what will make you happy and rich in the long run. Good thing is you will be doing what you love. I believe everyone has their own destiny, just find yours and don't compare to others.
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deric’s Answer

Hi Michelle,

I'd like to start out by saying I'm 36 years old and I still haven't figured it out. I still have feelings of doubt about my direction. I still wonder if I am following the right path. It's perfectly normal to feel the way that you do right now. The key is to just keep moving forward and stay active. Don't let your fear or uncertainty stop you from trying things.

I was also an art kid just like you. I imagined myself becoming a fantasy artist, comic artist, or some other type of illustrator all through high school. I took all the advanced art classes and participated in the scholastic art awards. I won two gold keys and nearly got a scholarship to the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan--I was late in turning in my portfolio for the opportunity, so I didn't even get to compete for it.

Anyway, due to the missed opportunity and other circumstances I went in an entirely different and unexpected direction. I was a junior in high school during the 9/11 attack. I watched the news in real time with my class mates as the planes hit the two towers and changed the course of American history forever. 9/11 was my COVID-19. Similarly to the pandemic, 9/11 shaped our society and changed the way we saw the world as Americans at the time. It also inspired me to join the Air Force when I graduated.

I spent four years in the Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst. During that time I made new lifelong friends, I witnessed events and met people I never could have as a college kid, I learned and grew as a young adult both mentally and culturally. And at the end of my four years I again found myself in the same position wondering what I should be doing, had I made the right choice, how will I figure it all out.

After deciding to get out of the Air Force I continued with my career as an Intel Analyst and worked for multiple government contracting agencies. I also deployed to Afghanistan for a year, switched careers to a systems maintainer for about 4 years, and finally got a degree by the time I was 32. My degree was in Multi-Media Arts with a focus on Web Game Programming. I used that to get an entry level position as a web programmer before switching over to a UX designer role (fancy term for web designer).

At each phase of my life I've had the same feelings you do now of uncertainty and wonderment about what the future holds for me and how I might handle it all. I'm now a senior UX designer, I have two daughters, a house in a nice neighborhood, and I still love to draw at night--maybe someday I'll become a comic artist ;). Did I mention I'm also a terrible communicator, struggle with anxiety, ADHD, depression, and still find it hard to talk to people? You can adapt and overcome and be successful in spite of struggling with communication. However, you will have to push yourself and it won't be easy--but it can be done.

If I've learned anything in life it's that you just have to keep moving forward and doing the best you can with what you have. Just as 9/11 was inspiration for me to join the Air Force, you might also find inspiration for pursuing something outside of art because of COVID-19. But, if art is your passion, then pursue it hard. If there's something making it less enjoyable for you, try changing it up--for example if you're bored with pencils, try paints (or vice versa). Don't be afraid to try out different mediums.

You don't have to have the answers now. Sometimes it's not about finding an answer at all, it's about taking a journey. No one can give you a clear path to your own personal success or a career that you will enjoy. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Don't worry so much about jumping into the rat race of adulting just yet. You have plenty of time, so enjoy the journey of being young while you can.

deric recommends the following next steps:

Try new mediums for your artwork. Something you haven't used before. Go bigger, go smaller, use color, restrict yourself to only black and white. Do anything to mix it up or make it more challenging.
If you're in a physical class room (or even some sort of group setting) - Find someone new and strike up a conversation. Do this once a week, talk about anything, it'll get less hard over time.
Get outside everyday. Go on a walk, a hike, to a park, or just sit and read a book. Do anything...just get out there.
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Edmond’s Answer

Hi Michelle L.,

Responses you have received to your question here are amazing, incredible and filled with exceptional life experiences. Neo and Sofia summed up beautifully what I was going to say, so I won't repeat. You're experiencing what many of us went through in high school - I don't claim it'd be easy but trust me, you'll get through it.

You have a wonderful talent - the world is beautiful because of people like you. What is on our computer and phone screens are beautiful because of people like you. Be proud of your talent, but in the mean time challenge yourself. Start a really difficult art project, don't rush, take your time and do your best. It's the "doing" that matters. The journey is important.

We're all here to support you.


Edmond recommends the following next steps:

Talk to your parents. Talk to your school counseler.
Participate in your high school's 'art' related student club. If there's none, start one yourself.
Try computer art (Adobe has a lot of wonderful software at little or no cost to students)
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Drew’s Answer

I don't want to grow up either. I'm 73 years old and I can assure you it will happen whether you worry or not. So don't worry - it is a waste of time and effort. If you focus on doing the next right thing each day you will be amazed how full you life will be. A liberal arts education never hurt anyone. I took ten years taking a liberal arts course here and there, amassing about two years of credit, before I decided to go to engineering school. My career has been successful beyond my wildest dreams, and I enjoy my assignments so much I still work about 10 hours a week for fun (and the money). We have been happily married for over 40 years, have four children and five grandchildren. Life is great and I'm enjoying every facet. I have focused on taking the next right step, often because I didn't know any better. From time to time I'd get an idea that I'd like to start down a particular path. It seems as if a path suddenly was laid out for me that looked interesting. And I took it.

Drew recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to relax. No one knows what the future holds.
Listen to your heart, run your own race, for get about your peers. You are unique and your path will be laid out for you.
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