Marloes De Vries blog

Doing what makes you happy

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.

Marloes De Vries

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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14 reacties

  1. Hi Marloes,
    Dankjewel voor deze post. Raakt me heel erg. Ik sta nu op zo’n punt in mijn leven. Ik wil tekenen, het liefst de hele dag. Het maakt me zo blij. Maar idd, hypotheek, kinderen, zo af en toe nieuwe sneakers, lekker eten. Zucht.
    Nu teken ik alleen nog maar voor mezelf, en misschien blijft dat ook wel zo. Maar het opgeven voor een goedbetaalde fulltime baan zou ik zo zonde vinden.
    Ik ga nu ook proberen het te combineren met een parttime (flut?)(misschien, maar whatever) baan. Jouw verhaal trekt me net over de streep.
    Wie weet waar het me brengt 🙂 Ik blijf je gave illustraties iig volgen op IG!
    Liefs Peet (@somesimplelines)

  2. I did. I did choose what make me happy first because if we can make ourselves happy than we can spread the happiness to other people and by that means we make people happy. And I can related to all every words you write up there. When we come to the downs it is a very down line, and when we came to the ups it is high as the sky. And I love your illustration of this situation; jump from the cliff with big smile. And those soft and calming colours palette is amazing.

    I am now in my very first step of this decision; I’m making the decision. But I notice so many things have changed in my life; I became more energizing, it’s easy for me to feel up after some breakdown situation, no more depressing, I laugh more, I feel veey healthy inside out, no more sickness every once a month, and happy inside. Even my drawing develop well.

    And yap about the money. Maybe I became happier inside, but the money not follow that rule I guess (lol). But money still can afforded, right? And if (I hope not, I wish not) the worst thing happen about financial, at least there is still fertile ground to plant edible, clean water to drink, chicken to rise, and this nature will be home.

  3. Thank you Marloes, for these encouraging words! Very inspiring 🙂 I too love to be doing what makes me most happy. Downside is the financial challenges, but of course happiness is priceless 😉 Keep up your beautiful work!

  4. Oh so amazing! And I’m deeply grateful for this article because I am in the middle of a similar process as well and it always puts a smile on my face how we get little signs and confirmations in different forms (like your letter today was!) that we’re on the right track once we start to listen to those little wispers in our hearts and let go of all the loud “shoulds” from our environment. So heartwarming ❤ thank you. And I love love love your work.

  5. Thank you for sharing, I have a very similar experience, although I’m not quit there yet 😉
    Yesterday Elizabeth Gilbert posted this on Facebook and it made so much sense to me!

    “”To yell at your creativity, saying: “you must earn money for me!”, is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you are talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”

    Keep up the good work, you are such an inspiration!
    x Sharon

  6. Thanks for the sharing. I happen to be experience that too. I left my steady job to pursue my dream job. Struggling right now. But your words and experience encourage me alot. It will get better in the end 😊

  7. I did things the other way around and started as a freelancer (full-time, with an occasional small part-time job on the side). I spent a few years being happy with an occasional teary self-pity session and financial frustration. After some years, I decided to try doing things differently. Now I have a full-time job that pays the bills and a part-time career as an illustrator. The nice thing is that I am not dependant on client projects and can devote more hours on my personal ideas if I want to. That’s one of the reasons I took a full-time job to begin with; it was a way to buy myself creative freedom. On the downside, I’m still trying to balance this new kind of life, as it can difficult to find the energy to be creative after a full day at work. But I’m hopeful that I will get there!

    You are right, though; it was never really about the money. Sure, I would sometimes be scared of how my future as a full-time freelancer would be when I would get older, but at those moments I was always fine. There was always a way to survive, living a simple life. My current bigger and more regular pay check hasn’t changed my life, either – it has just given me a bit more peace of mind.

    Rock on! 🙂

  8. It was nice to read your story. To quit your job, lots of courage is needed for that. I know because i quit my job too because i was unhappy with my life at that time. We even had to sell our nice big house for my decision. That made my decision even more difficult. I have like you, my ups and downs too. But it has given me more peace and i enjoy life more than before this decision.
    keep on sharing stories:)
    from Afke (@afkes)

  9. Very inspiring post. I can relate, as a Graphic & Web Designer, working for myself, I understand very well what this is all about. But as you, I do what I do, because as you wrote above: “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.”
    It’s very inspiring to see someone living the dream (my dream in a few years is being able to say the same things you’re saying). So, Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. I discovered your blog about a month ago and your posts have inspired me to work on being happy with what I have and where I am. I stopped drawing and creating a long time ago. I used to go to school and not pay attention in class because I was too busy doodling. Art class was my favorite subject. After school I would go home and I would still be drawing. Now, I find myself sketching maybe once or twice a week and I come up with excuse after excuse as to why I don’t spend more time doing the things that I like. Is it fear? Laziness? Maybe both and more. I have spent the past twelve years working the same typical 9 to 5 jobs, and I’m still doing it. It’s like you said, I’m just not happy and I can’t help but feel anxious and tired just thinking about spending ten more years at an office job feeling stuck in life and not actually LIVING it! I’ve started to make small changes in my routine to kind of kick start what I want to do, where I want to be and who I want to be in the future. Thank you so much for your inspiration!

  11. I’ve been starting to think about this a lot lately, doing what makes you happy vs. doing something that pays the bills. I do like my job but it doesn’t seem to be enough anymore…I just hope I’ll have the courage to choose my passion one day. It’s encouraging to know that there are other people going through this struggle. Thank you!