"Make things. Know thyself" - Inspiration Sundays


So I got a new art journal! My daughter managed to work through her entire sketchbook, front and back, in a matter of two and a half months so we made a trip to the art store. And when I go to an art store, I'm like a kid in a candy shop. This book is BEAUTIFUL! I am so picky about sketchbooks: the paper needs to be good quality, sturdy, and be able to absorb any medium I throw at it without disintegrating. I thought that the Canson XL Mix Media book was all that was readily available that met those standards, until I came across the Strathmore Mixed Media book. It's not wirebound like the Canson, but the pages are SMOOOOOOTH. I'm talking nearly hot-pressed watercolor paper smooth. The Canson has a bit more of a tooth to it. They're both 90lb, differ a little in size. Canson has more pages but is also heavier, so if you want something lightweight to carry around, the Strathmore is better for that. The cover is so soft and sueded... I LOVE IT. So, I had to get it, and couldn't wait to do my Inspiration Sunday quote in it. I thought this one by Austin Kleon would be a good opener for an art journal.

Those of you who know me in person know I have a tattoo on my wrist that reads "Gnothi Sauton." (There are two spellings for the transliteration, either gnothi seauton or gnothi sauton with the e contracted.) If you remember studying Greek mythology, either in school or for personal enjoyment, it's one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, which literally translates to "know thyself." I was 19 when I got it. I decided that if it stood the test of time, it would likely still hold meaning decades later. Plus, they're good words to live by. So when I came across one of my top favorite inspirational books ever and found this quote, it really touched me.

I find it amusing how we're quick to ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. Some are smart enough to answer "happy." Because how can they know? Can they? They've been on this planet how many years? Maybe 6 or 7 when they start hearing this question, possibly sooner? They just got past what they thought were the biggest hurdles ever, like potty training and tying their shoes, or figuring out the alphabet and that the letters combine to make words which have meanings, and now they're already having to think about future career choices. HA! OK, I get that for most adults it's just one of those questions to find out what really interests them at that moment, but when you're a kid, it's a serious question! I guarantee most kids you ask ACTUALLY BELIEVE that's what they really want to be when they grow up. Plus, when you're in first or second grade and having to dress up as your career and make a class presentation, you might as well have signed the job contract. My four year old has already listed a few possibilities, including artist and architect (she says she wants to build a city when she's 20 - gotta love her ambition). But I know that her choices are based on what she knows and loves to do, that being her art (especially drawing and painting) and playing with Legos. 

"It's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are." Did you notice as you grew older, your "career choice" changed as you gained life experience? Maybe it started out with people who inspired you. Or maybe they drove cool vehicles. Maybe it was the same thing your parents, or a relative, or a close family friend did for a living. Then, as your interests changed, or you took that really fun class in school, so did your choice on what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. Then by the time you reached high school, you realized there are so many possibilities there was no way you knew what all they were, you may have not known what you wanted to do any more other than an idea of the type of thing you wanted to do. The teachers handed out career cluster tests to help you figure out what your best fit might be, for which the results may or may not have aligned with what you had in mind. Then you're choosing colleges/universities (or maybe you didn't, maybe you decided on vocational training instead), taking tests, filling out applications, writing essays. It's all so confusing and exhausting. Then it hits you, especially if you were accepted to several of your choice schools, everything, your entire life, your future as you know it, hinges on this one decision. What to do. Where to go.

Funny thing is that, for me, I am ultimately doing what I knew I wanted to do when I was my daughter's age. I remember when I was at a party with my parents, I was drawing pictures on a pad, tearing them out and selling them to the attendants for a coin (I didn't know currency yet, but money was money). That idea was quickly extinguished (my mom admitted that they were afraid to encourage it), and my career choices after that included scientist, astronaut, doctor, military, CIA agent, National Geographic photographer, and architect, obviously none of which I ended up doing. So, on second thought, maybe we should be paying closer attention to what the little ones say they want to be before they are influenced by outside sources. Or at least we shouldn't be so dismissive of it as "aww, how cute." Maybe, just maybe, before school and career day and take-your-child-to-work day, we should pay closer attention what really captivates their interest. After all, they're busy making things and doing the work and figuring out who they are before someone else steps in and tells them what they should be doing instead.

Can you remember what you wanted to do when you were little? What you really enjoyed doing for hours on end? Did you ultimately end up in a career that closely matches your childhood passions? If you didn't, are you happy with your career choice now, or were there other motivating factors? And if not, do you think you'll ultimately try pursuing a career closer to your heart?