Originally published at www.womanworks.net

Dear Students,

As I indulge in the energy of your excitement, swirling around me, I am elated and also observant for your new journey into adulthood.

If your experience is anything like mine, I will give you my blessing and warning that it is going to be ground breaking for you.

Like you, I bypassed the idea of attending a state university to pursue an art conservatory. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and had my whole life planned within my first semester as I became engulfed by my passion for my studies. School was my life, my safe haven, my love, my inspiration. My emotions were so heightened by the stimulation of happiness that I neglected to realize that personal hardships could feel just as intense when parallel within this time frame.

My first year, I went through a very hard breakup around the same time my parents were at war with each other. As the serious conflicts erupted, I threw myself into work to feel safe and retreated to silent dark corners of an empty room because I was too scared to talk to someone about how raw I was feeling.

I attended parties, hung out with classmates, while silently feeling that whatever is happening needs to happen, stop judging, start digging.

Within the dark corners of my silent place, I took my journal with me. I could turn my happiness, my sadness, excitement, anger, into works of art. And the more I dug deep into those pages, the more I discovered that new outlooks, new meaning of life can happen at any moment if I let it.

It was then I realized how lucky I was to be in this art conservatory environment where in a way, life was giving me a launch pad of stimulation, while I tried to figure out how to function in this next chapter of my life called adulthood.

Speaking of adulthood, it’s been years since I’ve graduated from the conservatory. Did life go according to plan for me? No. In a lot of ways, far from it. But I can still tell you that it has been wonderful. I will also be the first to say that it has been hard…extremely hard. I’ve had to take odd jobs to survive a recession, I spent my twenties with a lot of people not taking me seriously, not to mention, trying to figure out if I still wanted the same things I did when I was eighteen.

Someone once told me that tumultuous twenties are great because you get all of the trials and errors of life out of the way so when you turn 30 you can evaluate what defines you, what make you happy, and how to make something of it. I’m not quite sure if that has been the case for me, however, I remember the morning of my 30th birthday and feeling like I had just finished a very long marathon. I started piecing together my very own products and visions I had developed through my performing arts education and I’m happy to say that things are getting easier, clearer. The uncertainty is slowly coming to a close. There have been successful moments, awards received, accomplishments I never dreamt of having.

But if there is one thing that I can say that I feel is not addressed, mainstream, is that success and awards do not define me. Overcoming the obstacles do. That’s where I found myself learning the most, feeling the most and once the life lesson is learned, it can never be unlearned.

So welcome to your first edition to your many volumes of art and adulthood. Your energy is wonderful and I cannot wait to stand on the platform as the first canvas of this chapter. I hope this provides you with deep insight as you choose and create your colors to tell the story of my mind and body.

Best of love, best of luck,

Your Model