Monday, March 24, 2014

Find Your Dream Career


When I graduated from fashion school last spring, I, like many other new graduates and job seekers, felt ready to take on the world. I had devoted 4 years to studying the thing that I had hoped would lead to a bright, shining career in the fashion industry, a dream I had held since I was 7 years old.
It didn’t happen like that. After graduation, I applied to over 20 jobs – in the first few months, the only reply I ever got was from a start-up company who insisted that their employees be Japanese and sold t-shirts with crude drawings on them.
Needless to say, my job search didn’t go too well. After a while, there was one position that I applied to when I had just started to give up that seemed to be the light at the end of the tunnel. I fought for the position, and almost got it.
It was a very unhappy and stressful time for me. At the time, I was being overworked at my full-time job in the wedding industry, however, I wanted very much to get my feet wet in fashion – my passion.

The irony was that the reason why I didn’t get that job was because the company felt that I wouldn’t have enough time based on my existing job in the wedding industry.
I admitted defeat, but began to think of the possible reasons why I was experiencing such bad luck – I started to doubt my skills as a designer, my cover letter writing abilities, I thought of applying to grad school, I even blamed my hopeless job search on my name.
It’s now been almost a year since I graduated, and what my life looks like today is a completely different story. I am happy, focused, and productive every single day, doing what I love.
But the thing is, I’m in exactly the same position I was in a few months ago: I still have the same job and have not managed to get a position in the fashion industry. Why? I stopped trying.
This isn’t a piece about giving up, which is not something I condone. In fact, it is more about persistence than anything else. You see, since I was a child, aside from my dream of being a fashion designer, I also wanted to be independent: my biggest goal was always to be my own boss.
And now, through clarity and insight, I am happy to say that I’ve found creative ways to pursue my passions in ways that are more meaningful to me.

Personal Insights

Following are some of my thoughts and insights on creativity, clarity and happiness from my lens as a recent graduate trying to cultivate a creative and meaningful career doing something I love.

Creativity

While it is obvious that people in my field of work need to be creative, creativity isn’t just about being a great artist or designer. It’s about finding solutions and solving problems.
During the time that I couldn’t find a job, I was focusing so much on the strife that it was bringing me, instead of focusing on what I could actively do to “turn my luck around“.
In today’s world, anything is possible with a bit of creativity and hard work. I realized that if I wanted something and no one was giving it to me, that I needed to find ways to get it myself.
Since graduation, I’ve also opened up my mind about what a career in the fashion industry could look like, and the avenues through which to achieve them. I’m no longer focused on becoming the world’s greatest fashion designer; instead, I choose to take advantage of what I am good at and what brings me joy doing in order to carve my own unique career.
I think we are all capable of going after our dreams, but that does require a little bit of thinking outside the box on our own part – nobody is going to hand us a cookie-cutter dream job.

Clarity

My mind has never felt clearer and focused, now that it’s been stripped of expectations. Originally, I thought of my day job as something that drained my energy and was the barrier to my career I really wanted – now, I see it as the enabler to my success. Like it or not, freedom requires financial security. Once I let go of the idea that I was trapped, I saw every aspect of my life as an important ingredient in the eventual success of my vision.
Nothing is holding us back – we manifest our lives through what we do. Knowing how each act consciously contributes to our vision is key, and the power in knowing this is freeing.
Creativity means nothing if we don’t have the clarity to know what it is we are going after, and how we are going to get there. After that last interview was over, I took stock of what I had to offer and what my best skills were, and then decided with laser-sharp focus what I really wanted to do and how I was going to get there, one step at a time.
As my design teacher liked to say, “KISS” – Keep it simple, stupid. Understanding and figuring out what we want to do with our lives is deceptively simple (I simply went back to my childhood craving of independence and love of fashion and writing), as are the steps towards our dreams – you just have to focus in on what they are, and cut out all extraneous things that sidetrack you from your true vision.

Happiness

In the end, it all boils down to happiness. I wasn’t happy at that point. I felt trapped. What I really wanted was freedom, not a job. And the act of job searching was not only draining and unfulfilling, but it got in the way of my grand plan for happiness.
Why are we conditioned to view the working life as the precedent to retirement? I no longer think that way. I am reaching for happiness and fulfillment today, every day. Had I found a job, I may be toiling my days designing clothes for a company whose philosophy doesn’t match mine, or worse, I may be left working 12 hour days as a design assistant, doing nothing more than measuring samples all day.
What I do after I get home from my day job brings me so much joy that I would do it for free – of course, my aim is that I will be able to make a living out of it.
Through joy, creativity and clarity, I know that my true dreams are possible – all I need now is persistence.

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