There was a moment in my life as a student that I think is quite pivotal in my decision to embark on a creative work environment. I was a third year Nursing student then, assigned to work from 3pm to 11pm on the fourth floor of St. Paul’s Hospital. Vividly, I could recall this deep throbbing feeling that nothing there made sense to me – my presence in the hallway, my hands flipping through the patient’s charts, my interactions with my patients that deep down comes out a bit off and staged – it felt so wrong that the moment I arrived in the area, I immediately checked on the number of hours that I had to endure before the shift ends.
That was when I realized that the hospital did not suit me, that Nursing was never for me, that I could never see myself working day and night in a closed setting, responsible for the lives of innocent people, doing something that does not excite me, something I don’t truly love.
The build up of that strange feeling continued until I finished my degree and got my professional license. Yes, I was extremely happy because it was a milestone in my life – similar to the milestones of the rest – to perform well, to get good grades, to graduate, to find work, to thrive in life. But what is lacking in that happy feeling of achievement is something deeper than just the superficial certificates and medals and diplomas.
That was the void I was trying to fill all of these years – that even if people are very much pleased of your achievements and expects you to perform well in the actual world, here I am worried about what makes me shout for joy, what keeps me awake at night and what really wakes me up in the morning.
Seven years have passed since my college graduation, since I got my professional license as a Registered Nurse. Seven years that I gave up on the many opportunities of greener pastures, of working abroad and earning more than what many dream of. Those seven years that lapsed led me to an exciting life filled with creative projects and innovative ventures – introducing me to the right people, the like-minded individuals, and the free-spirited buddies I have met during my search for happiness, joy, and passion.
Passion for art, for design, for life. It took me years to acknowledge my passions when I woke up one morning by the beach without any worry of the daily grind, that all I had was a mind full of ideas waiting to be implemented, and time that no one could ever take away from me. That was when I fully trusted my instincts that “this” is truly what I have been ceaselessly seeking since I was a student. And ever since that void was filled with my passions, every single day I have always felt whole – that what I am doing transcends to a greater purpose, that what I am working on matters to me, which makes me happy and contented of the life I intentionally chose.
It is difficult to explain these feelings though, especially to those that are more on the ideal life path. They tend to question my earning capabilities, my credentials, and my wasted education. They would lecture me on the cash flow that a life of working abroad could provide – to make me rich, to take me places in exchange for being someone I am not. Somehow, explaining a feeling that some might have not felt yet can be difficult. And I don’t really feel the need of elaborating anything to anyone – because most would just shut their ears and close their eyes and remind themselves of what is “ideal” for them.
I’ve always been placed on the spot. That people could never accept that what I am doing makes me happy. Even until this day, I get unsolicited remarks from people that does not even matter to me. And I fear that it would be something that I have to get used to until my death – that there would always be people who criticize you for deviating from what is expected, for purely loving something with burning passion and yet being called crazy for letting grand opportunities pass. I guess that’s how cruel the world is lately – engulfed by the idea of concrete road maps to success.
There is this irony that I have observed in this life – that at a very young age, we were all told that we can be who we ought to be because everyone is unique. We were encouraged to stand out from our peers because we are different. And yet, after the years of education, the years of understanding the sciences of existence and philosophies of life, we, those same children taught to stand out, to be “unique” are expected to conform to societal standards. That being adults, being unique is just a metaphor. That being unique subjects you to be criticized for deviating from what is being expected. That there, is the problem. That is the irony.
My life is my only luxury. The years of my constant search for happiness led me to a lifestyle that caters to areas that I feel are very important, very essential to my identity, my uniqueness as an individual. This intentional living led me to a life of uncertainty, a life revolving around creativity in art and design, implementing ideas geared towards social enterprising and some small-scale to large-scale projects that are backed up with passion and love.
The life that I chose enables me to wake up and create, innovate, play, and enjoy, without the pressures of time and society. It allows me to grow fully and mature with the principles that I have embodied, accumulate a wealth of knowledge through books and hands-on application. This life gave me the freedom of doing – that at a fleeting moment, I could decide to stop gardening and work on a painting, take a short walk and snap some photos, travel to somewhere I’ve never been, browse through my e-mails, take a quick swim, drink a glass of wine at any time of the day, do absolutely nothing, ride a boat, learn a new hobby, meet strangers, or cook a good meal. That, to me, is a beautiful kind of luxury.
Going back to that moment, that turning point, that afternoon when I was just a student nurse closely staring at the hands of the clock, begging for my shift to end. I would never forget that feeling of emptiness, of that lack of purpose in the life that I was living. I believe that was the only time that made me completely sure that it was not the path meant for me.
And so, here I am, seven or more years later after leaving the nursing life, embarking on a scary yet fulfilling road to the creative life, sitting quite comfortably on the path that I think I could claim as really my own.