Create your Own Path
As a young girl, I was raised to think that I had to live my life based on the example of others who lived their lives successfully. This pressure to live like others was heavily influenced by Nigerian culture, which expects you to outdo your peers. I grew up hearing my parents compare me to other people’s children all the time.
While I understand the value in showing young people a success story, I don’t agree with forcing them to literally do life like anyone else. There is a difference between learning from the example of other's and imitating the life of others. In case I'm not making myself clear, let me say it again;
You do not have to live your life like anyone else.
Living a successful life is a subjective term because success looks different for everyone. I know that sounds cliché' but in terms of being a creative, you have to get comfortable with unknowns. You can learn how to effectively brand yourself and promote your work, but your creative journey may be all trial and error. Your career, success, and life will not look exactly like anyone else's and you should be okay with that.
Creating my own path is important to me because I grew up being compared to others. Even to this day, I still hear family members tell me "So and so is doing this, or is married or is going to this school", and my response is "good for them". Listening to these comparisons used to make me feel inadequate, and behind in life because my achievements never seemed to match up to others. But I made up my mind, to live MY life for myself and that meant doing things on my own terms. I'm aware that in this structured Western society there is a prescribed timeline for accomplishing lifetime milestones. That timeline or blueprint can be a guideline, but you are an individual with a different destiny and purpose than everyone else. You don’t have to follow the path that most people follow. I know it might be scary, it might be unpopular and your family/friends may not support you. But I have a few tips on how to create your own path.
How to create your own path:
· Do some soul searching
o What are you passionate about? What are you most interested in? If you have multiple interests, try to narrow them down or combine thm.
o What do you enjoy doing for free?
o What career/art are you interested in pursuing?
· Take time off (College isn’t for everyone and that’s okay love)
o Do an apprenticeship: You will be surprised how much more you learn from hands-on experience under the supervision of someone in a field you're interested in.
o Travel: Expose yourself to a new environment and new experiences that may spark an interest in something bigger than what you already have access to.
o Volunteer in different fields: Volunteering always looks good on your resume and it exposes you to new people, organizations and you learn a variety of skills.
o Peace Corps or AmeriCorps: These programs are amazing resume boosters with great networking opportunities and most of the time, paid stipends.
o Work in a non-profit: Similarly, looks good on your resume and you get work exposure.
o Get a starter job in the field you’re interested in.
o Work part-time while you pursue your passion. You can be a server by day, and comic book writer by night or a barista by day and model by night. Many actors, singers, and creatives had to go through the part time job struggle while they pursued their dreams. You gotta do what you gotta do to get where you wanna go.
You will not figure it out all, it may take months maybe even years to get into your own path, but the first step is to make up your mind that you will live on your own terms, create your own destiny and be original.
Writer: Ori Onazi
Editor: Diana Rubio
Photographer: Joe Cudjoe