So you just have to be different
Oftentimes I wish I picked a more traditional career path. Mostly because of the whole "path" part. I literally could not get anywhere without Google Maps, and somehow I thought pursuing a career as a freelance illustrator would be the right move for me. WHY - WHY DO THIS TO YOURSELF, RESHMA? As someone who is surrounded by success in more traditional careers (doctors, engineers, lawyers...oh I'm sorry, did I not mention I was South Asian yet? Well - YOU GOT ME!), when you tell people you are freelancing, you are met with a combination of curiosity, skepticism and straight-up confusion. And I totally understand all those reactions, because that's how I feel everyday.
How did we get here you ask? A long time ago (not THAT long - I'm still what the kids call ON FLEEK), I was in the 5th grade, and I vividly remember one class assignment. I had to draw a shoe. From 3 different perspectives. AND I WAS TERRIBLE. That was it. My fate was sealed. I was bad at drawing at the age of 11 and no one was to speak of it again. This is the narrative we are taught from an early age: When it comes to being creative or artistic, like the front holder of the peach on the Real Housewives of Atlanta, there can only be one. WHICH. IS. INSANE. I also couldn't drive in the 5th grade, but I learned and now I definitely know that speed limits are just suggestions. Look, what I'm trying to say is that in school, I was never the quote unquote "artistic" one. I was the "Dang girl, you study a lot and care about your grades" one. And both are important. I'm glad I put in the time to study, I just wish there were more times where everyone was given the encouragement to be creative. I apologize in advance for slowly slipping into motivational tea-towel speak, but I do believe that we all have something unique to bring to the table. And now is the time to do it.
As an adult, it has only been through trial and error that I've been able to rediscover my ability to be creative. I've worked in marketing, non-profits, social work and design, and each experience has helped me figure out what I like and don't like. Some may say I took the long route, I like to say it was scenic. Both are true. Either way, as I journey down this unknown path that I have to create for myself, I will quiet that 5th grade stamp that says I can't draw. Like halloween with an unlimited budget, plenty of time and a team of craftspeople, I can be whoever I want.