Be an artist
When I was a child, my favourite past time apart from reading was drawing. Every child scribbles something with crayons and the parents are crazy about his pictures, of course. But then in high school I specialised in pencil sketches and some imaginary fantasy worlds. I drew a lot and I even tried some colours but then... I somehow left it. Frankly I don't know why, maybe I got preoccupied with something else, maybe I thought I didn't have the talent so there's no use devoting my time to something that I'm not great at. It was the idea that was engraved in me at home, either you have a Talent or it's just a child's play and not worth mentioning. Either one or zero, no other option.
Many years later, in 2008 I went back to drawing and painting - first it was kind of the scrap booking journal, then mixed media acrylic paintings (some of them are hanged on my own walls). A few years ago I reached for the coloured pencils and then it was an obvious path to the watercolours - first some everyday impressions, then travel journal and underwater stories.
My parents always taught me to be careful, to choose the known and safe paths. That's why I lived my life along those rules for a long long time. To be on the safe side I chose the same highschool as my best friend did, studies were suggested by my mother (I had my own ideas but never dared to follow my dreams...), later I got stuck behind the desk in a company and never wanted to do anything about that. I never thought about what to do with my life, didn't want to make my own choices and take responsibility for them, I just went with the flow at a medium pace. I'm not saying it's always wrong, but I didn't like it, it was like a breadcrumb under my shirt but never tried to do something about it. I remember watching my friends grab the life by the throat and squeeze it like a lemon till the last drop to achieve what they wanted, but I didn't venture, I was too scared of changes. Then when I was an adult I managed to make a few risky steps and my family's reaction was always "it's not a safe option", "it would be better to leave it and go back to what you know".
What would I tell the 18-years old me if I could? Don't be afraid of life! Try! You will not always succeed but try anyway! Try, taste, test yourself. You will find out what's your cup of tea and what's not but you won't know that before you try. Choose studies you're interested in, go to Norway to pick up strawberries, go out and meet new people that have interests similar to yours. You don't know anybody there? So what? You will get to know them. The worst thing that can happen is you won't like them and go back home. The world won't stop because of that! ^^*~~
To the teenage me I would say - don't wait! Even if you're young, healthy and wealthy, you never know how much time you have left, noone knows. We always presume that, if not forever *^v^*, we will live till very old age, long enough to find the time for everything we want to do. It's often the case that a person hearing a terminal diagnose and having a few months to live starts to make up for the lost time and do what he/she really wanted, we've seen it in many Hollywood movies. But why not start today when you're still young and healthy? How do you know you have plenty of time? Maybe your life ends tomorrow or next week in an accident or something? Why not try to live in every moment to the fullest? Enjoy our lives in every second?
Be mindful but don't let the outside voices discourage you from trying! - I'd say. I know all the pieces of advice always came from my parents' good hearts and concern about me (and also fear engraved in them by their parents...), but it also cut my wings preventing me from making my own mistakes and drawing my own conclusions. When I went outside the safety zone I felt surrounded by the atmosphere of fright of what might happen when I fail... (I failed a few times of course but I wouldn't give it away what I went through because it taught me what to do or do not do later.) I didn't feel any support to do the next steps. Rather a standby to be finally able to say "I told you so! you shouldn't have tried it!". Every decision about any new undertaking was built on my fear because I knew I wouldn't hear the words: "yes! try and if you fall we'll be here to catch you!", but rather "don't even try it, it's risky, you don't know the result, give up just in case, stay where you are because it's known and safe"... I finally decided to stop listening to those voices - they are with me all the time, I don't have to hear them everyday to be haunted by them...
When I sit down with a pencil in my hand over the white piece of paper I calm down, put my mind's my at ease, plan what to draw, how to place it, I put the first strokes. Then I cover the pencil sketch with more detailed lines using the marker, add shading. Then it's time for colour. With A3 size paper it takes me good several hours to finish one painting. Each work is a challenge and a study. I look at other artist's pictures, get inspired, analyse their techniques. Creating is my meditation and at the same time my learning path, my development, I learn new things - looking at the world and depicting it with a sketch and some colour. I take seeming failures with humbleness, I draw conclusions from every next painting, repeat the experiment and enjoy every moment of it to the fullest.