I recently came across an article in Fast Company about how to “Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.” I’ve since thought about all the questions the article raises and want to expand on some of the ones I found most meaningful. My favorites to explore include:
What am I doing when I feel most beautiful?
What are my super powers?
What did you enjoy doing at age 10?
What are you willing to try now?
Looking back on your career, 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?
The guiding questions help reaffirm my recent decision to pursue something I’ve always felt a calling towards, but didn’t necessarily have the courage to fully pursue. The more freedom I get from the routine I was in for many years, the more I get in touch with how deeply ingrained so many old ideas are in my psyche. For most of my life I had a calling and passion for social justice, helping others and working towards ideals that were deeply important to me. I believed in equality and equal opportunity for all, especially in terms of education and economic sustainability. After graduating college and following my lifelong dream of living in New York City, I quickly found that working in a non-profit like I had always planned wasn’t going to provide enough support needed to sustain a livelihood in NYC. It made me wonder, what about all the other people I grew up with who wanted to help people and work in the social sector? How did other people do it? Did they succeed?
Back to the questions that got me thinking about this in the first place. I feel most beautiful when I am helping others and truly fulfilling what I believe is my real purpose: to listen, facilitate organized communication and help translate ideas into tangible action. These are my superpowers. I can connect with almost anyone and really hear what they have to say. It seems like I have a unique ability to communicate and build bridges with a broad array of people, across different industries and backgrounds. When I was younger I used to nerd out making birthday cards and other art projects for hours on end after school. I loved art so much but not just for the sake of creating art for my own enjoyment–I always wanted to make art for others’ to enjoy. Deep down I always had a powerful drive to create. So now I am willing to revisit this part of me that feels like it was neglected for quite some time. I got caught up on a path towards stability, adulthood and what I thought was going to lead me to the freedom I thought might come in the form of finances.
You’ll never know until you try. That’s what I keep telling myself and the funny thing is that I really believe it. You might think I’d feel fearful about trying out this new path, but I don’t at all. As soon as I became available to pursue new opportunities as an independent freelancer, new possibilities seemed to magically find me without too much effort from my end. It feels like an uncanny alignment is happening in which the universe wants me to follow this path and is providing in return for my efforts, however small at first. Twenty or thirty years from now, regardless of where I am, I want to look back at say “I tried my best” and I will hopefully feel peace in knowing I gave it my all and didn’t leave an open possibility for what could have been. Regardless of what I will have accomplished by then, I want to know that I accomplished enough in just trying to make something of myself and follow my true calling as opposed to falling into the typical path I can easily go back to marked with security and financial stability–the things I thought might set me free. I can always return to that, but now is my one shot towards following another path where I can honestly admit, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. There is something beautiful about not knowing and just simply trusting instead.
My first social media experience happened with my 6th grade introduction to AIM. My screen names were so ahead of the times! There’s no doubt that my super fast typing skills developed over late night group chat sessions with all my middle school friends, typing fast while also using alternating capital and lower case letters for style. Using names like “LiToLePrAkHaN” and “SsHoMeSlIcEsS” was my m.o. and it soon led me to get into web design–although I didn’t know it at the time. What prompted me to get so invested in a personal site at that age? I’m not so sure, but my first site http://www.shupz.cjb.net was really a feat to behold. I took it down around hight school because it just wasn’t the cool thing to do anymore. I either outgrew my interest or became a slave to what I thought was the cooler thing to do. I think the latter is true.
I reached some point in my adolescence where I was embarrassed by my nerdy history of making sites and learning to code. I wish I remembered how to get it back. I’d give anything to reminisce about the hilarious history of middle school, my site’s “shout-outs,” the “trademarks” page and the funky layouts borrowed from the endless Expage forums. I don’t know why I was embarrassed. Website building and coding late at night while snacking and typing lightening speed messages on AIM suddenly didn’t fit in with the party girl persona I tried to cultivate, in fact is really cramped my style altogether.
I wish I felt more encouraged to follow that passion and listen to the inner drive I felt to create things using this tech format I’ve always felt so comfortable with. I jokingly say I could’ve created Facebook had I stuck with it and maybe took steps to learn more advanced skills in the arena. For whatever reason that just wasn’t my path. I am grateful to feel a return full-circle to that time when I didn’t care so much about what others thought and just followed my instinct to create. Putting content out there without a brand or company backing me is a new feeling, but for now I’m just going with it. And for now it feels like the right thing, so I’m listening up.
Are there others who had an early introduction to coding or website design but didn’t pursue it because it doesn’t seem cool enough? Luckily I think that paradigm is shifting to one in which coding and creating and having your own start-up is becoming a highly desirable path, and not just one you can easily teach in college. Learning the tools and skills needed to succeed in the new tech economy is also becoming more accessible, but those who can’t afford multi-thousand dollar degree program or coding intensives are still facing barriers to entry. New technology and the internet of things have helped democratize so much opportunity across all industries, namely education. So far I’m proud of my generation for helping push things forward, but I still wonder if there is more we can do to help bring everyone into the fold. Are coding and web design becoming cool again? Are kids showing an interest earlier on and sticking with it because they feel supported? I want to be a part of the movement towards greater inclusion and opportunity for all. Maybe I am a part of it just by putting myself out there like this.
Next week’s Thrive Conference is hosted by inspirational women driving thought leadership across entertainment, fashion, politics, health care and technology who will share experience on how to achieve full lives immeasurable by just money and power alone. This is the crux behind “third metric,” which I hope to understand even more completely by the conference end. I’ll be attending with NYC’s United Women in Business board members, an engaged group of inspirational women very well aligned with the conference’s theme.
Is it just me or do things always turn out better when you just go with the flow? I never really took that saying to mean more than just a cliche; an easily passed along snippet people tend to say when they’d really rather remind you to “calm down” or “stop doing what you’re doing.” Lately I feel like I’m seeing how important it is to really let the universe take hold and drive. The less I try to make things happen or follow whatever plan I seem to be attached to in my mind, the more things are happening on their own–more so than I could have imagined.
There’s some kind of power out there at work. The other day I re-connected with an old friend from college and we went on an East Bay adventure to Berkeley’s Brazil Cafe then to the Contra Costa Crystal Fair. I keep mentioning this trip to everyone I see lately because it’s just too good not to bring up over and over. I mean, how stereotypically Bay Area can you get? I wonder if I should have taken my shoes off immediately upon entering the Easy Bay-bound Bart. I love the Bay Area exactly for that reason: I literally cross about ten different micro countries manifesting as neighborhoods and cities along my journey across the Bay. I suppose this kind of diversity finds a contender in New York and its surrounding boroughs, but there’s something unique about the Bay’s special flavor palette.
At the Crystal Fair in Walnut Creek my friend and I perused the wears until we both stopped at a special table advertising bio-luminescent spirulina smoothie mix and a selection of crystals. I think we were drawn to the pair manning the table–a colorful woman embedded in a sea of green-blue tye dye sheer pantsuit handling what looked like a mini light-saber hovering over her throat, and her husband, adorned with numerous necklaces and what appeared to be a matching kufi and embroidered vest. We chatted a bit and the woman divulged that the light ray wand was a UV way machine that emanates light waves known to heal ailments and straighten out telomeres that constrict due to stress. We soon learned our newfound friends were fellow Banana Slugs who loved Santa Cruz so much during school that they never left. I told the light ray lady about my newfound career freedom, she paused and held up her hand so as to sense wind or some kind of energy, and she quickly assured me “I feel good about that.”
Her husband invited me and my friend to a teleconference that happens once per month to educate people about the benefits of bioluminescent spirulina and extended an invitation for us to visit them if we ever make a trip to Santa Cruz. A session with the UV light ray wand was $25 for 10 minutes, so I passed in case I wanted to use my cash to have a picture taken of my aura. I would venture to guess my aura is purple, the most magical color for auras, but I’m not sure since I didn’t end up getting the photo. Our new friends’ banner denoting their organization detailed their membership to the Cosmic Council of Light. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the 5th dimension but apparently the Cosmic Council of Light is a real entity intent on helping people get there.
Whenever I come home to visit SF my parents and I always make a point to take at least one day together to do an epic city hike. I don’t know if other families do this but we always have and likely always will. It’s just become a family tradition we almost expect of one another whenever we’re together for at least a weekend. I always expect one of my parents to suggest that either Saturday or Sunday we take a long walk, grab lunch and enjoy a fantastic vista from atop a super steep hill. All that walking makes the lunch taste that much better and the view look that much more magical.
I’m not sure if getting older has made me appreciate my parents more or if it’s just something that naturally happens to everyone once they finally move out of their parents’ home. I just know that I can’t believe my parents had me when they were my age. The thought of having a kid right now scares the life out of me and I can’t fathom them doing it way back in the late 80s when it was just a whole different world, with no internet or cell phones. How did they do it? I’m so thankful my parents raised me the way they did. They always encouraged me to try things that I was interested in, no matter if they were just purely creative ventures without a particularly clear end goal. They always encouraged me to seek things off the beaten path and welcome diversity in people, places and experiences. These nostalgic moments of gratitude always hit me when we’re walking around the city together, sometimes for lengthy hours of trudging from the city center to the far ends of Bernal Heights, all the way up the hill, or other times down to Aquatic Park and Pier 39 to see the bustling tourism and seals.
Today we went to a concert at the Knockout Room, which I hadn’t been to in years and certainly never with my parents or in the middle of the afternoon. It dawned on me how cool they really are and how I must have derived some (maybe all) of my coolness–or whatever it is that I derive confidence from–from them. I used to be so embarrassed by them! I remember leaving the house to go somewhere all together when I was around 4th or 5th grade and I wouldn’t let my dad leave the house until he changed his shoes because the way he looked bothered me so much. I’m glad my parents were able to laugh at me (and hopefully less at me and more along with me) during the awkward years called adolescence. Thank god we all grow up eventually.
Someday I’ll probably move back to SF and live in the Mission, Potrero Hill or around Duboce Park and when I do I hope my parents and I will be able to take long weekend urban hikes to new parts of the city we never typically included in our quests. Maybe to Clement Street or out to Stern Grove or even to the Zoo. Maybe to the Presidio and down to Chrissy Field to walk beneath the Bridge. We always have the best talks during our walks and I’m always surprised at how much more I have to learn from them. In the mean time I hope they come visit me in Brooklyn to take long walks around my neck of the woods. It will be beautiful and feel historic and perhaps we’ll manage to walk more because of the more even elevation. Maybe the food tastes better and the views look more beautiful not just because of the effort we’ve put in by walking, but because of the special company we share.
That’s what comes to mind when I think of the impact I want to create. I want to work with clients to make their visions and passions a reality. I want to leverage what I’ve learned in corporate advertising to help entrepreneurs and start ups effectively share their message and value with the people they want to reach. I want to live in a world where everyone wins, where everyone can benefit from lifting one another up towards success and fulfillment.
I want to help bridge the resource gap while working for people I believe in and whose energy and drive I feed off of. Nothing fills me more than sharing in the excitement of launching a new idea and innovative strategy for something that could fundamentally change the way the world works. I’ve always been an optimist, sometimes to a painful degree. I believe in people’s absolutely limitless capacity to create a better world, and I clearly see how social media and digital strategy can play a central role in making that world a reality.