Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chosen or Inherent Paths, That is the Question.

I'm sure you've noticed that it seems as if you can't really ever read a biography of anyone great without hearing about how they were pretty much born to do what they do, or at least that it was quite apparent at a very early age that they were going to become great at what it is they had a natural affinity for. "Jane took to the piano before she could walk", "Johnny had a toy box that he never opened because he was happy doing nothing but painting", "Michael was given a small basketball at age 3 and he loved it so much, he couldn't sleep at night if he wasn't holding it," or "Billy was destined to be a computer engineer because he was always taking apart electronics and putting them back together," etc., etc.

Reading such bios over and over again, it is easy to see how those that do not necessarily relate may take away that because they, as aspiring whatever, did not share that same "born to be" commonality then they may need to reevaluate their path. And where does that put those who feel that they have some inherent talent (perhaps not to the high degree as those born "naturals") but are not quite sure if it was noticed so early in childhood? Do we continue on the path we chose anyway? How do we know when we need to redirect the path or even if the path needs to be redirected?

As for me, I find that I am constantly exploring my past patterns to discover what it is that I am inherently meant to do. What am I a "natural" at and am I on the correct path? Don't get me wrong, I feel that I am most definitely supposed to be an artist/designer because I am passionate about it, but sometimes I find it difficult to tell from the things I did as a child, especially things I did really well. I really can't seem to find anything that I did so naturally well as a child, besides just typical child-like things. I mean, every child paints, draws and creates, so how am I to tell from that, that I was born to be an artist?

The only thing that is blatantly obvious is that there is no obvious "born to be" for me. It hasn't been so easy for me because, for one, there isn't a whole lot that really jumps out at me from childhood memories.  I also don't seem to have much childhood artwork. The only piece I could find from an early age is this one:

I think I was in about 1st grade when I drew this and it was to act as a wrap/cover in order to disguise a regular coffee can as a "Change for Change" charity of sorts. The artwork that I do have quite a bit of is from junior high and later. So for me, 7th grade was when I realized my affinity for art and, thus, the path to becoming an artist, and later designer, began.

I can safely conclude that I am an artist by nature and a designer by nurture and that without that semi-early awareness of my affinity of art, I would not be on the path of a designer.  Sometimes I am not always certain that the path of the designer is the correct one, but I also don't think it is the incorrect one because I am passionate about it. I can confidently say that creating and expressing are something that I have always had an affinity for. In fact, I recall expressing myself more often in the form of performance or makeup/face painting than on paper.

The stories my grandmother loves to tell the most of my childhood were of the times I was over at her house playing in her makeup. Apparently, her vanity was the first place I went when I would come over. (And apparently, I was quite the natural at flawlessly applying lipstick...and without a mirror!) When I was not in my grandparent's bedroom trying on all of the makeup from my grandmother's vanity, I was showing off my makeup on their fireplace platform (that was my stage) begging for everyone to, " 'ook at me, 'ook at me!"

I also recall quite vividly (and there are pictures to prove it!) after having seen the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller video over and over, that I just had to try out the special effects make-up techniques that they applied to Michael for the werewolf scenes. I was always so enthralled by the entire process, from the plastering of his face to create a mold for the mask, to the delicate application of the latex mask, and especially to inserting the yellow werewolf contacts, just because I couldn't believe they were putting something in his eyes! Of course I was too young to try out any kind of serious special effects make-up creation and application, so naturally I utilized the minimal amount of tools and supplies that I had around the house; paper from my coloring books, water, and a paintbrush. A simple, yet very effective process that involved tearing small pieces of the coloring book pages, applying water to them and then layering them on to my face until I covered my entire face in a paper-mache type of mask. Later, clown makeup became one of my favorite past-times, especially when my step-brother would visit for the summers. He was always such a good sport when I insisted he sit for me so that I do his makeup...after I completed my own, of course.

Being that these stories were the only obvious clues from my childhood, I decided to try out theater in 9th grade instead of taking art class (which I also really wanted to do, but couldn't do both). After the semester was complete, my theater instructor pulled me aside to strongly advise me to continue theater in 10th grade. For some reason, I did not take her advice. Instead, I really wanted to take more art classes. So, that is what I did and because of that decision, I continued on that path into college. Ever since, I have always wondered, "What if? What if I would have continued on the theater path instead? What would I be doing now and where would I be? What if I should have taken my theater instructor's advice? What if I chose the wrong path?" Because of the what if's, I have since dabbled in theater a bit. I've explored everything from taking an acting for non-majors course, to volunteering to act in plays for local community theaters, to taking stage make-up classes. I concluded from those experiences that, although I enjoyed acting, I feel that I am too shy to actually let go enough to really become a character, but that I still love everything about theater. As such, if I were to get involved in theater or performing arts now or later, it would either be stage-makeup, special effects make-up, or doing graphic design work for theatrical companies.

So, chosen or inherent paths? Of course it is different for everyone, but perhaps the inherent path is just not as immediately obvious to everyone as it is for others and so we must choose...and hope that we choose correctly...and that if we don't, we will eventually reach a fork in the road and have the opportunity to choose again.