Nine years ago I was walking the streets of NYC and passed by a guy’s table. On them were crappily hand painted wooden boxes. Winter was approaching. I remembered it being cold.
I forgot how our conversation got to this point but he looked at me and said, “I’m an artist, just like you.”
My initial reaction to the man’s comment was, “What? I’m no artist.”
At that point in my life I wasn’t sure what the heck I was. I got my Bachelors in International Development from UCLA because it was important to my parents that I had some sort of degree. I moved to NYC after college and was waiting tables at a restaurant while interning at a fashion agency. I didn’t know what I was and just wanted someone to tell me.
As the man stood next to his table it hit me – you can be whoever the hell you want. You don’t need other people’s approval to be something, and anything anyone says to you is true only if you decide it true for yourself. Up until that point I NEVER thought it was possible for me to be an artist. I hadn’t given myself that option because I believed I had to do something more practical.
This guy was selling his boxes and to be honest, they looked like they were painted by a 4-year old. But he was happy and confident. He had decided for himself that he was an artist – a darn good one.
Today I proudly look at my work and say, “Yup, I am an artist.”