Decades ago, it was quite obvious that I was an intense little creative type. Home movies show multiple sessions of artistic endeavor. In these scenes, I’m glued to whatever subject I was interpreting in whatever medium I used at the time: finger-paints, crayons, pens, pencils, clay. My attention was razor sharp on the work at hand. I was so involved in what I was doing that it was hard to tear me away from each precious project. It was also obvious by nursery school, kindergarten, and grade school that I was not the same kind of social animal as my peers.
By fourth and fifth grades, my modus operandi was to pay attention when I liked something, and when I did not, I would draw, sketch, or write little lines of stories or poetry—all of this in my various class notebooks. Although I did graduate from an excellent private art college, I sadly could not publish my written and illustrated children’s book ideas, no matter how many simultaneous submissions I tried. I cast around for alternatives. Art therapy? Occupational therapy? I landed in Library Science.
I’ve recently joined Toastmasters International in an effort to feel more at ease with public speaking or any kind of speaking. And I also intend to take online classes, get another art degree in graphic design, and set up a home-based business in that field. To this end, I have a lot of evolving to do: learning business math, getting organized, creating a brand, learning the art of persuading, improving my assertiveness, etc. But the upshot is that I will be doing something I will enjoy (and make money) and will have some measure of flexibility with.
This extends to my personal life as well. I’m hoping that the gradual ease I acquire when communicating with all types of people will open the door to the romance I missed out on during the decade I was diagnosed with/learning how to manage my type 2 diabetes. I hope that in another few years, I can be a role model or mentor in home/small business, my church community, and elsewhere.
My one piece of advice is don’t do something unless it’s your bailiwick, your idea, your goal. No matter what other things you need to work on to spruce up your relations with others, that kind of improvement is not worth it unless you are true to yourself. And if one way doesn’t work no matter what you do, try another avenue for the creativity or inspiration. But make the alternative your choice for yourself, no one else.
I may never publish a children’s book, but I will be doing something with the talent I was born with. I may even get back into colored pencil drawings and put those in crafts and art shows. Who knows? But I am working on my own Hero’s Journey. As Joseph Campbell said, “Find your bliss.”