Every person holds inside their heart one particular moment in time: a time when their lives changed. Whether it was for the good or bad, it doesn’t matter. What they know to be a fact is that after that day, their life was never the same. Some people call it an epiphany. I call it a turning point.
Several years before this turning point, I had nurtured a gift of seeing and I had developed a love for the visual and the emotional through photography. I had an ongoing conversation with God whether I should pursue this craft and turn it into a calling. Naturally, I had laid out the cons in front of Him. It didn’t come as a surprise to Him that He knew how hesitant I was. And surprisingly, He never offered any pros. I think He knew He didn’t have to.
As someone who believes in authenticity, I knew I had to be true to myself. Not to say that the wild, wild west of the corporate world had not lived up to its promise—it actually did. It offered me so many things that I am thankful for today: accountability, professionalism, ethics, a proper system, transparency and a community of the best and brightest minds that the workplace had to offer. I had even found a place in the company as one of the best facilitators in our team.
But I knew that this gift of photography was given to me for a reason and I knew that if I didn’t use it, I would eventually lose it. But more than that, I didn’t want to have any regrets. If I tried and failed, at least I knew that I had tried and found out the answer for myself. So eventually, I took the plunge and now I am neck-deep in this sea of creatives. The feeling is overwhelming—as overwhelming as someone who hardly knows how to swim. Sometimes, I manage to keep my head afloat while most times, I feel that I go under for hours, days and sometimes weeks.
I was recently invited to be a guest speaker in Ateneo De Manila University to speak about pursuing one’s passions. So I shared to them who I am now and how I am doing today. It was quite an experience because I never imagined that I would be talking to others and sharing how God had led me to this decision of my life right now and how I have been able to use this gift to memorialize moments.
I had begun this journey of faith with no clue of whether I was going to succeed or not. I still haven’t. I’m still that person who is still thrashing and flailing around him, trying to grab hold of something—anything—that makes sense. It’s like I’m in freefall except that I’m caught in waves and waves of doubt, fear, insecurity and every other hang-up that an artist and creative has in their lifetime.
But I am still kicking. Sometimes screaming. And one thing will never change: I will do this for as long as I can because I know that it is what I’m called to do.
So for those of you who missed out on hearing my platform I leave you with a message of encouragement. I say to you—whoever you are who’s reading this—that all is not lost. As one of my favorite books go, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
To close out this entry, I would like to share with you a few pointers on how to pursue any field. Here they are:
I think it’s safe to say that you don’t know everything. So make sure that you include God in your conversation when you’re deciding on something. You’d be surprised to get an answer when at times you ask for a sign. I actually got a go signal from Him when I asked if I should pursue photography full-time. He answered with the clearest of signs. And the day after, reiterated the sign, just so I wouldn’t forget. It’s like being swallowed by an immense wave of peace when you finally get it. And whether you get that “sign” or not, as long as you have peace with it, you’ll know that it’s the right decision.
One of the things that most people take for granted is the concept of everything as being part of a process. Be patient. Always understand that it doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop going there. You will definitely encounter roadblocks. Some of them might take you a longer time to get around and some might just entail you taking a step back and waiting. Whether it’s the long kind of waiting or the short one, be prepared to wait. Work while you wait and good things will eventually come to you. Which brings me to my next point…
Be prepared to hustle. Write that word down in big, bold letters, put it in front of your workplace and make sure you see it everyday. Hustle. There are no shortcuts. You will have to work hard for everything. And when you’ve finished working hard, you’ll understand that in some cases, you’ll have to work harder. I despise the belief that you have to work smarter instead of harder. Sometimes, efficiency helps. But it’s the grind that forms your character over time. It’s the scheduled practice sessions, the consistent churning out of drafts and their accompanying revisions, the late-night sketches on paper of the same subject for the umpteenth time. Nothing will ever replace hustle.
If you are a perfectionist—may it be in the field of photography, writing or any other creative endeavor, remember this: “Done is better than perfect”. I think the best way to address writer’s block (or any block for that matter) is to JUST. DO. IT. You will make mistakes so before you do anything else, just make sure that you’ve reconciled in your heart and mind that you will make mistakes and your work will suck. But not for long. Eat, sleep, work, make mistakes, learn and repeat.
One of the things that I’ve currently invested in nowadays is education. I am no longer under an apprenticeship but I still learn on my own and have made it a point to educate myself in different ways. I have invested on different online courses that will help me in my craft and the business. I have not stopped learning. The goal isn’t to know the answer to every possible technical question out there. The goal is to be become better than who you were yesterday.
Be thankful for what you have. If you’re struggling as an artist, then be thankful that you’re an artist to begin with. If you’re still in that phase where you’re still trying to find out your passion and you’re immensely confounded as to what option you’re supposed to pick, then be thankful you have options. Some people don’t. There will always be something that you can be thankful for. Someone that you can call to mind and remember that they helped you in one way or another. Be thankful for your blessings, yes. But more than anything, if you’re stressing about a particular problem, that, in itself, is a blessing to have only because some people aren’t as fortunate and blessed as you to have that problem to begin with.
If you lose your way or find that you need to refocus, just remember #ThatThingCalledTiwala
I showed this video to the students and I’m sharing it also with you. May you find your passion and pursue it doggedly and relentlessly without fail. May you remember that you have your own voice to follow and your own shoes to fill and what the world needs now is for you to be exactly who you are.
If you know anyone who needs this message, may you pass it on with love and kindness. Until then, stay with the chase and never give up.