Continued from Part 1…
After graduating from high school, I was really lost about what to do next, other than some vague idea that I was supposed to go to college. The only problem was, go to college for what? At this point in my life, the only two things I was really passionate about was my art and my horse (Not much has changed in this regard, lol). From my perspective at the time, neither of those directions looked like a viable career path and I really can’t blame myself for having such a limited view. It was a different time, the internet was not what it is today, and I had a much smaller understanding of the world. It didn’t occur to me that it was possible for an 18-year-old kid to start their own business. Not to mention, I hadn’t learned a VERY important skill yet, one they really ought to be teaching in school, and that is HOW to overcome the many obstacles life throws in our path. Back then, if I saw an obstacle in front of me or a string of obstacles, I would just give up. I didn’t even try to figure out how to get around it. This way of thinking made me feel very boxed in and stuck.
I really struggled to find a direction and a career choice that suited me. After a year of crappy minimum wage jobs, I decided that school had to be better than what I was doing, and almost on a whim, I enrolled at a private college. By my sophomore year, I had to decide on a major…and it being a small school I chose the thing I disliked the least, English. Now I have to admit that I enjoy reading and also writing to some degree, but it never felt like, “Yes! This is what I need to be doing with my life.” I questioned what I was I was going to do with an English degree, what kind of job would I get after I graduated? Since those options didn’t appeal to me, I decided to transfer to a large state university where I would have more choices.
It was around this time that I fell into a bit of depression. I felt disheartened with my art, what little I created, because I had lost my purpose. I thought, “I will never be as good as a camera, so why bother?”. I was still stuck in the mindset that art wasn’t something I should pursue professionally. I was afraid that if I had to make art for a living, it would ruin the joy I found in the creative process. On top of that, I was now at a large university, I could major in whatever I wanted, but suddenly there were WAY too many choices. I ended up choosing Environmental Science, which was a return to the path I had followed in high school. Again, I liked studying the environment and greatly enjoy the natural world, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Unfortunately, my required courses only added to my depression because they were all focused on how humans have had a detrimental effect on the world’s ecosystems and basically the planet was dying a slow and painful death (Global warming, hole in the ozone layer, pollution, species extinction, the list goes on). Just what I needed…NOT!
My senior year rolled around and I got a serious reality check. Environmental Science was not what I wanted to be doing with my life. After a small meltdown and taking another semester off to try and find myself, I figured I had been in school long enough, and settled for a degree in General Studies. My last semester was great, I took Italian, drawing and art history. Finally, in December of 2007, I earned my first bachelor’s degree. It had taken me a total of 6 years, minus the two semesters I had taken off, to finish school and yet I STILL felt just as lost as I had been when I had started (I don’t know how many times I’ve looked back on this and thought of it as a huge waste, both of money and time). I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, spinning my wheels but not getting anywhere. A few months later, I got an assistant manager position in a retail chain store at the mall. I love clothes as much as the next girl, but retail was not for me and I didn’t last very long working there.
This was the beginning of a very disjointed and largely unhappy time for me, during which I produced little art (And I have a bad habit of giving away my best work as gifts!). I did a LOT more floundering around, trying different jobs and living in different places. None of it felt right career-wise. I invested my energy in personal relationships since I didn’t have any real self-goals or a set career path, but this was in vain as the relationships didn’t last. By 2011 I realized that something had to change, I had to move in a new direction, and I decided to return to college to earn a more specialized degree that would get me a job I could tolerate.