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Why I Decided "Practical" Was Entirely Impractical

There are a few decisive moments in my journey when I realized I wanted to lean into a creative career path. This particular moment was after I had fallen in love with drawing and painting. I was ready to see what would happen if I took the time and energy to nurture my artistic spirit. By this point, I had already traded my short-lived International Business degree route for a Graphic Design route. Hold on. Why, out of all the art degrees did I choose graphic design when I had only fallen in love with just drawing?

The answer was simple, it was the practical thing to do.

I had heard all of the stigmas about the "starving artist," and I was hesitant to opt into a field with that kind of baggage. I also felt many people fall into this assumption that an art degree is for the lazy college student. Because how can you get a bad grade in an art class, right? *Heavy eye roll.* I felt this pressure that if I was going to choose to be an art major I at least needed to be reasonable. Because somewhere in my mind I made this entirely false connection between unreasonable career paths and artistic career paths.

And I was scared because I always thought of myself as a good student, and the last thing I wanted was for someone to label me as a quitter or that I didn't have what it takes to "challenge" myself to reach higher aspirations. But I learned in my first drawing class that making good art was no small feat, and it certainly wasn't going to happen for anyone who wasn't willing to work hard at it. The same principles apply in this field as they do in so many others: if you don't take initiative and push yourself, you will not grow and you probably won't waltz into your dream job.

At the end of a semester, I struck up a conversation with my advisor in the art department, a dear mentor of mine. He asks me what my next steps look like, and I tell him, with a bit of strain in my voice, that I was starting to get into my graphic design major classes.

He immediately caught my air of hesitancy and saw that I was simply unenthused about the whole idea. I hadn't even decided if I was ready to narrow my scope to digital art. I was sad about the idea of setting down my paintbrush. I told my advisor about my fears.

My fear of telling my dad I wanted to paint for a living; he was still convinced graphic design meant drafting for an architectural or engineering firm.

My fear of losing an edge in my future lucrative career hunt.

My fear of investing in an impractical skillset.

In response, my advisor gave me a piece of advice that I treasure to this day. I'm paraphrasing, but this is what I gained:

If you are passionate about something. Your love is not impractical.

If you are good at something. Your gifts not impractical.

If you are willing to work hard to achieve your goals. Your dreams are not impractical.

Your portfolio will speak for itself.

He was so right. Practical does not equal right. There is no practical reason that flowers are so beautiful or that that food should taste good or that colors fascinate me. It is an every day grace. Not all good things need to be "reasonable."

That was all I needed to be catapulted into a new stage of confidently pursing a creative path under the title of an Studio Art major. Not all fears subside quickly, but the more I worked, the more I saw a career take shape. Sure enough, I still took a lot of graphics classes and learned on my own time. I can still put those skills on my resume. My portfolio speaks for itself, often. My dad saw it recently and validated the work I was so afraid to share with him.

So if there's something holding you back from pursing that wild beautiful thing that scares you, let me be the first to say I am here to cheer you on. Even if you have no idea where to start. Feel free to reach out on my contact page, there are lots of ways to get in touch with me. Full speed ahead. Educate yourself. Work hard. Find good mentors. Be a good mentor. Share your passions even if it doesn't mean making a fulltime career out of it. And most importantly, sometimes "practical" is entirely impractical.

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