To My Fellow Fine and Performing Arts Students

Much to my dismay, there is a lack of motivational posts on the internet for individuals pursuing a fine arts career (yes, I already scoured ThoughtCatalog). This blurb is my attempt at composing one in the hopes that it will encourage fellow arts students to continue following their passion, despite the voices in our heads that tell us otherwise. If I’m being completely open and honest, I’m still trying to convince myself to do the same as I write this.

Take a step back and think about the number of professions and skilled trades that exist. You have teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects… right next to them, you have teaching assistants, nurses, paralegals, visual artists, engineering assistants, construction workers, chefs, tile installers, A&R representatives, and interior designers — all of whom play large roles in their field. They help people grow, both personally and academically, they make improvements to our healthcare systems and homes, they represent clients, they support those in administrative roles, they scout talent, they write, they bring creative ideas to fruition. There is so much that makes this world turn, and you are a fundamental part of that process. If you’re anything like me, you’re a dreamer, a giver, a lover, and an artist in your own way. There is no calm to your storm, and your life is not a simple, straight line. You’re a kite that refuses to be tied down, yet still wants to share your hopes and dreams with someone. You see the world through various lenses, you empathize, you let the artist in you fall in love, you’ve been hurt, and you express your feelings through your craft. There is so much depth and complexity to you that is only measured in human experience — experiences you want to share with others through your creativity in the hopes that those around you will be able to relate. Read that last sentence again. Isn’t that such a pure and beautiful thing?

Unfortunately, there will be times when you feel like your ideas, your abilities, and your hard work are for nothing. There will be moments when all the negative thoughts and comments will catch up to you. Their words will echo through your head everyday, saying you can’t do this, you can’t make it, and that they don’t see how turning your passion into a career is realistically going to happen. It will come from a parent, a friend, a teacher, or someone you love. It might even be one of the reasons they reject or leave you. They will give up on you, give up too soon, and will not care enough to stick around to watch you succeed. You will feel despondent and dejected. You might even convince yourself to quit. Some will tell you it’s just their difference in opinion and experience, but it’s not about the intention — it’s about effect. It will hit you where it hurts.

“‘Be a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer’, they say. But there’s one thing they can’t hear: the silent beat of creativity within you — that calling beckoning you to trust your gut, follow your heart, and do what your soul demands.” — Connor Franta

I am here to tell you that this is when you need your art the most. In your loss of faith, do not forget why you do what you do. Do not forget the hope you want to instill in others. Do not forget what forged your passion in the first place. Do not forget about the people who DO support you. Do not succeed to prove others wrong. Do it because it’s what you want. Your drive is internal and your passion is what motivates you. Who convinced you that one person’s opinion is enough to change your course of direction? That with just a few words, what you’ve been working towards for years (or in my case, my whole life) is completely useless?

What people sometimes fail to understand is that the road to success is not paved the same way for everybody. For some, it looks like this: An IB Diploma, a Bachelor’s degree, writing the LSAT/GMAT/MCAT, getting into law/business/med school, an apprenticeship/residency, etc. For others, it’s never finishing university and funding a startup company. For me, it’s working until I have enough money saved for business school so I can go into the creative rights and music industry. For you, it might be something different. However, remember that just because it’s different, not traditional, and has a greater element of uncertainty, does not make your career any less valuable.