Listen to the audio version of my story here:
I come from what we call, The City of Lights – Lahore in Pakistan but I grew up far away from the big city life. My mother recalls that I used to play in the garden outside and arrange, rearrange fallen leaves and petals and call her from the inside to show the art pieces I had made. I don’t remember it. I was probably too small to remember it. She said I could spend hours and hours doing just that. Sounds blissful! I long for that similar kind of blissful unapologetic living. I remember falling in love with painting, the materials, colors, patterns and the way I was good at drawing and how much I really enjoyed it.
For me, it was the definition of pure joy.
On the contrary, whenever someone used to ask me what I would like to be when I grow up. My reply was always, ‘I want to be a doctor’. Back then, I didn’t know art could be pursued as a career. I was totally in awe of my father’s profession and the way I saw him constantly trying his best to serve people sometimes even at the cost of the family’s time. I am the ambitious type who wanted to play her part in making this world a better place and the empathetic one who wanted to make a difference with her existence. When I did learn that art could be a real career, I was devastated as it wasn’t one of the honourable approved by society careers. I believed the lies that art is just something you do as a hobby in your spare hours of the day.
It could be a luxury but not a real career.
You can not make a difference if you are not saving people. With time I learned and realized a few things which for me forever changed the course of the future.
I learned to redefine two important things on my own terms for myself; the difference I wanted to make and the success that I wanted to have in my life to feel fulfilled. At that time I didn’t know I was redefining these for myself. All I knew was that I was staying true to who I am and who I wanted to be. In retrospect, I can say now that I was following my intuition.
I guess the rebel in me wasn’t ready to accept the preconceived notions even at that tender age. I don’t like to call this part of me a rebel though as I somehow associate negative meanings to this word. Let’s just say, I was aware enough to not let society decide what was right or true for me. The more I grew older the more I realized how I didn’t want my life to look like. What I did want it to look like was still a mystery but I was open to trying something that was different, a path that hadn’t been walked by many before. I’m a strong believer in listening to your self and understanding when your intuition points out, ‘this is not the kind of life I want to be living‘. I was open to risk failure but to be really honest with you, I had this belief that whatever I’m going to put my heart and mind into, I will figure it out. I have what it takes to figure it all out. I still adored my father’s profession but as soon as I accepted that it just wasn’t what I was meant to do new ways opened up.
I choose to follow my curiosities despite the odds. I accepted that I’m more passionate about creating, colors, bringing my imaginations into reality and being able to express myself in a way that was authentic to me. Funny thing, before I realized this, I didn’t even know there were any Art schools that offered degrees in Design or Art.
Talk about living in a box!
Maybe because it wasn’t on the list of the honourable paths to pursue or maybe because I never saw any such examples growing up. When I decided to give it my all and go for my passion, I kept hearing from *almost* everyone around me that there is no future in pursuing art. That redefining of the kind of impact I wanted to have and the kind of success I was rooting for came in handy at those moments of despair.
I knew in my heart that if I will stay true to myself, I will be able to crave my way out. Also, I loved walking the less-travelled roads, I still do. Studying Product Design was one of the best and bravest decisions I have ever made in my life. I fell in love with the design process, figuring out ways and mediums to express and there, I was still helping people by designing products to make their lives simpler and easier. This was my way of playing my part in serving the community.
Side note: Considering that I am an empath and a highly sensitive person who can cry watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. – I would haven’t survived to be a doctor myself. Just saying!
The minute I graduated I was super excited to become part of a multi-national company. That’s what you do when you graduate, right? You find a job and build a career, check off all the boxes you need to check to prove yourself a worthy part of the society. Soon my excitement turned into resentment. I guess it was once again time for me to decide what success meant for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in all those big corporations as an employee but the creative inside me started to call me out a corporate sell-out and I wasn’t really happy creating to cater to the corporate demands. I was missing having a sense of meaning and connection to my work. It started to feel inauthentic to me. I loved creating! I wanted to create just for the sake of creating. I loved the process and now the whole process was dependent on making the perfect product to get the maximum sales. It wasn’t the kind of creativity I had longed for.
This is not something I was comfortable with so I decided to change that. I changed quite a few jobs as I was in search of finding the best fit for myself. I did find some exciting positions and I absolutely loved challenging myself until I was unhappy again. Meanwhile, I got married and my husband and I decided to move abroad. We choose one of the happiest countries to move to, Denmark.
Moving here acted like the permission slip I had always been in search for. It was new, exciting and challenging at the same time. Previously I never had enough time in my hands to rethink everything that I had built but now, all of a sudden everything was changing and I had the opportunity to start all over again. This move allowed me to find the courage to start my creative ventures as an independent creative. I started creating again. For the sake of creating. I realized the societal pressure or checking the boxes wasn’t the only things that had been standing in my way. This venture and creating art for the sake of creating led to a better understanding of why I never pursued it ever before. I loved painting ever since I was a little girl but I never did it. I took all these years to pick up my paintbrush again. Why?
- I was afraid.
- I was afraid of failure.
- I was always waiting to feel ready.
- I was a perfectionist. I still am a recovering perfectionist.
- I was procrastinating all these years.
- Doing it for the corporate world was way easier than to create art that is authentic to you.
- I let the guilt of not being creative consume me. Click to read my story of guilt
- I believed the lies that you have to be just ONE thing. Click to read about my struggles as a multi-passionate
I was a multi-passionate. I still am one. All those jobs that I switched in those five years were all very different. I was hoping to find the ONE thing I’d love doing for the rest of my life. But maybe that’s not how it is supposed to be for people like me who are curious and passionate and want to learn new things and want to keep trying exciting new things as they go.
To give you a little background of the kind of positions I have done previously worked on:
- as a Creative R & D designer for Bata.pk
- as an Interior designer for National Furnishers
- as a Jewelry and Accessories designer for Shubinak
- as a Fashion and Accessories designer for Generation.com.pk
Here is a link to my Linkedin, in case if you are a little bit more curious.
Coming back to my own creative ventures, I started this blog as a way to hold space for my own creativity, I started writing thoughtful and honest letters to my newsletter community, sharing my musings and artwork on Instagram. I also did a 100 day project of unapologetic painting in April 2019.
This is my story of choosing to live a wholehearted creative life.
I still struggle with imposter syndrome, fears and limiting beliefs and I don’t think these fears ever go away. You just become better at dealing with them and start understanding ways you can still show up despite feeling oh so afraid. My struggles of all these years with creativity, the creative process, and my creative expression has equipped me with a much better understanding of myself, my own creative process, and the creative mindset. This struggle is what I’m willing to be doing as my one thing for the rest of my life.
This is me living my truth out loud.
This is exactly what I want to help fellow creatives with, in believing that their stories and ideas are worthy, in living their truth out loud, finding their authentic voice, living true to themselves and building their lives on their own terms in their own messy and human way at a pace that feels right for them while creating the kind of art they love to create.
I offer 1:1 Creativity Coaching and if working together seems like something you’d be interested in you can find out more about the ways to work with me here or get in touch this way. I’d love to support you in your journey.
Enjoyed reading this?
Then you’ll enjoy reading my thoughtful letters too!
I write thoughtful letters packed with tiny nuggets of inspiration, personal insights and behind the scene messy life stories along with occasional updates on what’s coming new and what I have been working on. I believe, we gain much more by simply learning how others are coping with the same.