Growing Pains

I was never a person who had to worry about my career choice or what to do with my life.

When I was around 12 years old, I took a few art classes and my mom and teacher told me I had a knack for illustration and art, and since then I was always pushed into it. Actually, I should probably mention that although my mom kept me in these classes and encouraged me to pursue being an artist (which isn’t typical of your Korean immigrant parent at this time), I genuinely enjoyed the arts and didn’t mind it at all.

I got to high school and missed out on applying to LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School of the Arts) and OCHSA (Orange County High School of the Arts). See, at the time, the internet wasn’t such a huge part of our lives and most information was shared through word of mouth or television. My mom only realized that I had missed this opportunity after a close family friend mentioned that her child had been admitted to LACHSA.

For the next year of my life, my mom sent me to art classes after school to work on a portfolio that consisted of paintings, drawings, and illustrations with the expectation that I would enter LACHSA as a sophomore.

If you don’t know me very well, but have an idea of who I am- you probably would assume that I got in.

I got rejected, and this wasn’t soul crushing in any shape or form, but it did hit me pretty hard. I felt like I was pretty talented and didn’t have to work as hard as others to accomplish my dreams. In my eyes, I was the main character of life, and everyone else played a supporting role. I would eventually end up with a happy ending with all my dreams fulfilled, because… I’m me. I see the world only through my perspective and I consumed all this entertainment and culture that gave me this false sense of entitlement that really doesn’t exist.

As I’m writing this, I’m wondering to myself- “what’s the point of this entry?”.
At this time I can’t really figure out if I’m doing this as personal therapy or if I feel I really have something genuine to share. If it is the latter, I think I rambled on way too much about myself and if you’ve somehow made it this far, I’m very thankful that you did so.

I got into high school and started experimenting with Adobe Photoshop. I got pretty good at making little graphics with anime characters and trolled internet fan forums with cool banners and GIFs that people really enjoyed.

I stepped into “3d abstract art” in 2004, when I discovered on DeviantART that people really enjoyed these images of ethereal explosions and light beams flying all over the place (if you’ve never heard of it, just search up 3d abstract art on Google, it’s pretty cool). I got a good following and even got front page exposure to my work a couple times. I felt really good about my skills and applied to Art Center College of Design. I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I knew this with confidence when all my friends were struggling to figure out what major they wanted to study in college.

Fast forward to 2017. I’ve been working since 2007 with several companies through contract and freelance work. I made enough to support myself and move out, and for the last 4 years, I’ve been on my own (for the most part). It’s pretty awesome. The freedom I had to do whatever I wanted on my own time without having to worry too much financially was a great experience. I spent a lot of time with close friends and got to play a LOT of basketball and guitar.

But it got harder. My contract work stopped for a while and I had to find a new job that was full-time in a new field with a new base salary that didn’t come close to what I used to rake in. This was a foreign feeling to me. Everything kind of just fit into place my entire life, and all of a sudden… I felt like I had to make a real effort at this new job. And it’s tiring work. I feel like the work actually never stops, and it’s gotten to the point where I want to quit, but I can’t tell if it’s because I can’t handle the stress of a full time job, or if I truly don’t believe in the company’s future and direction. It’s a pivotal point and my boss actually really wants me to stay with them and grow… but I’m at an odds with myself.

I miss a lot of people. I miss spending time freely with the people I care about. Prioritizing time with relationships is one of the most difficult things I had to learn and accept as I close out my twenties. As 2017 closes, I’m trying to decide what to do, but I can’t figure out if it’s driven by my incessant struggle to stay childish or a true understanding of what I desire in my career path.

There isn’t an answer for this. I’ve talked to many people and everyone has their own opinion, but I hope that I can make the right decision. I feel like I’ve grown up more in the last year than I did in 26 years of my life, and it’s because it was hard. I hope that if I do decide to leave this job, that it’s because it’s a wise decision in consideration for my future, my relationships, and my church. I don’t want to be a kid forever… but my the kid inside wants to hold on as long as possible.