Today I found a letter I wrote to myself exactly three years ago. I posted in on Facebook and after that someone asked me to translate it to English to have it published on a blog. Three years have gone by and things have changed. But I can only say: I was right that everything will always work out in the end.
October 12, 2013
A couple of years ago I worked as a graphic designer at a successful agency but it wasn’t making me happy. In fact, it made me unhappier every day I went there. I made the decision to take the leap and become a freelance illustrator. I gave up my well-paying job to follow my heart.
Weekly, and maybe daily if I came out of the house more often, I hear that people think it’s amazing that I do what I love.
To me it feels like I have no other choice because illustrating makes me happy. It’s not just a job, it’s part of who I am.
To not illustrate feels like running away from who I truly am.
“I would love to do something that makes me happy,” is something people tell me quite often. It’s a sentence I don’t fully understand. And not because I’m stupid. Just so you know, my mum had me tested.
What keeps you from being happy?
“Yeah, but I got to earn a living too” is not the suitable answer to that question. Of course you need to earn a living. But in my opinion happiness and money aren’t directly connected. Unless making loads of money brings you to a level op happiness that the rest doesn’t matter any more. Then you make a very valid point.
If you do what makes you happy, the money will come. Or not. The thing is: when you’re happy with what you do, it doesn’t matter that much. You will find a way to make a living. You will learn to be satisfied with less. I’ve learnt that going on holiday three times a year doesn’t make me a happier person, for example.
A job on the side (because paying your bills is preferable) can be found if you are comfortable with yourself. It doesn’t work when you’re going to a job interview with your head set to “If you don’t hire me I’m going to have a mental break down so prepare yourself for a big tantrum”. Nobody wants a person like that in their office.
My point is: start doing what makes you happy, even if it’s part time. Add that little bit of happiness to your life. It will make you a more balanced person. People around you will sense and appreciate that. And you will see: better things will come on your path.
I made this drawing around the same time I wrote this letter. I felt like I was falling in mid-air, not sure where I would land but having faith it would be alright.
Of course I’m down at times as well. Especially when my bank account is empty again. And sure, you will find me the corner of my room crying and feeling sorry for myself. A while back I seriously asked myself if I made the right choice by giving up my secure and safe life. I gave up a lot to pursue my dreams. It isn’t easy, you won’t hear me saying that.
To choose happiness isn’t that hard, but the consequences of that choice are.
Choosing a career or path that makes you happy comes with ups and downs. The downs are terribly low at times but the ups are sky high. I can understand that the majority of people prefer the safe way of living, like a steady line. Living that kind of life with ups and downs isn’t for everyone, and I’m not saying you have to. But when you feel unhappy and you know in your heart what you need to do, then by all means: do it. You don’t have to quit your job right away like I did. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it. But you can gradually build it off.
Ask yourself what suits you better. To have the career of your dreams and having loads of bucks in your bank account is only for the lucky few. Don’t try to accomplish that. Try to accomplish a bit of happiness in your life.
October 12, 2016
Looking back on it, I know I was at my worst right there. I left my home town just six months earlier, I had to sell my house with incredible loss, I had no money, little income, and still I was determined to make it.
To be honest, I think that’s the reason I pulled through: my determination to keep illustrating and doing what my heart told me to do. If I would have made sensible choices, then I would have quit and looked for a more steady job. But then I wouldn’t be where I am today.
This letter also reminded me that I’m lucky to be where I am today. I’m incredibly grateful for everything I have now.
At times I still struggle and I don’t think it ever will be really easy. It is still ups and downs, although it seems to me it has become more steady over the past three years. I work hard, I do it with a lot of passion, I have great clients to work for, I don’t have a lot of spare time, I cry sometimes but I also have a permanent smile on my face these days. Because I know I made the right choice even though a lot of people said it was risky. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m curious what you think! Please do let me know in the comment section below. What are your thoughts? What would you do? Do you do what makes you happy? Looking forward to it!
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All text and images © Marloes De Vries