Recently my little sister told me that I inspired her to want to become a counselor. I knew right away this did not sound like her. She’s always had a passion for singing and acting. I told her, I’m glad I inspire her, but it shouldn’t be on account of following the path I took. I told her she needs to follow her dreams and do what sets her soul on fire and makes her heart sing, no matter what anyone else tells her. I told her my story for the first time. I explained to her, I only followed the path I did because I wanted approval from family members and hadn’t yet developed my own self-confidence in my creative abilities.
After talking with her I realized that my undergraduate years in college should have been a giant sign of what’s truly important to me. In my undergrad, I completed a dual degree in English Literature and Psychology, while working on completing a separate art program. Although I wanted to please my family doing something “practical and safe,” I couldn’t let go of my need for creative writing and art in my life. My heart has always belonged to my creative pursuits. In school, I was always involved in creative activities; drama class, art club, art class, creative writing club, chorus, poetry club.
After I finished my undergrad and went on to pursue my graduate degree I locked up my creativity in a little bottle and rarely let it come out to play. I often felt like I was suffocating. My journaling described feeling like I was drowning my very essence, cut off from my source of passion and true happiness. I felt untrue to myself, I felt like my soul was dying and my heart was crying.
Despite these facts, it took me getting my master’s degree in general counseling and dipping my toes in a few ponds, within the field of mental health to realize I’m not actively doing the things that light me up and set my soul on fire. It was only during the first year of my current job, working as a Prevention Specialist that I was honest with myself.
That summer doing arts & crafts with kids at summer camp I had a wake-up call. I finally admitted to myself that art and writing have always been what kindles my passion. All of a sudden, I couldn’t turn off my creativity. Creativity flowed like molten lava warming my heart and making my soul sing. For the first time, in a long time, I began to feel in alignment and in harmony with myself and the world around me. I realized that I’d unlocked the ingredient to my happiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping guide kids in my day job as a Prevention Specialist, teaching them valuable life and social skills to help them be successful in life. However, I’ve come to realize, while I value the need for taking care of one’s mental health my focus is on living a happy and healthy lifestyle from a holistic perspective (mind, body, and spirit). I realized that it was important for me to make time for the things that light me up from the inside out.
The last few years have been a turning point in my life to help me become more self-aware and discover what a happy and healthy lifestyle means to me. My confidence has grown immensely as I’ve learned to tune in and listen to my inner voice. It’s been a life lesson in living with intention and creating with purpose. I’ve come to fully understand the importance of self-care and self-awareness. I’ve learned to nurture myself from the inside out. If there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone it’s, follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, and do more of what makes your heart and soul sing.