For those that know me, they know that I've always dreamed of doing something creative for a living. When I was little, I would take photos of my cousin on my polaroid camera forcing her to become my model (which is where the featured image above comes from). I took countless selfies long before they increased in popularity. When computers lacked the built-in technology, such as iMovie, to properly put together a short video I found a way to create movies with music on systems in which I can't even remember the name of. It was a time where dial-up connection was used.

There was one moment at the age of eleven that I made a cd for my new stepfather while the two newlyweds were on their honeymoon. I stayed with my grandparents for a couple weeks of summer and somehow ended up being able to stay home by myself which is rare because one of them always seems to be home. This project was special because it was featuring myself singing. One of the most embarrassing things that I had ever done to date, but I did it because I was proud of it. I was fearless. I sat down for hours taking pictures of pictures to download onto the computer because there wasn't a scanner and carefully edited the images into a compilation that moves in time to my horrendous singing. Of course it did take over an hour alone to make sure my voice sounded presentable...or so I thought it was at one point.

Throughout high school and early on in college I had absolutely fallen in love with my Literature of Film and Graphic Design classes. I got to use Illustrator and Photoshop to manipulate beautiful photographs and create logos or business cards that I one day thought I could use for my own creative journey. When it came to film, I learned about the many aspects of work that takes place in every single scene. Again, my poor cousin had to suffer while I watched hours upon hours of special feature footage. The angles, the set, the mood, the depth of focus...I was in love and anything seemed possible.

I was set on one day being a director or cinematographer in LA. I realize now that it could have happened if I tried hard enough. People do it all the time, right? Instead I told myself that I couldn't because of the cost of living. Sure, it still is steep for me to consider living there, but I could have made it happen and still can. I continued to pursue my Associates degree in general studies telling myself that it left plenty of time to decide if I wanted to continue taking the safe route of entering the business world, or venture off into a more creative route. I'd have my collegiate start that would transfer anywhere regardless of what I decided on.

I finished my AA and decided that I would study graphic design as it is unique and lets me express the creativity that I felt I kept pent up inside during that time. I looked online and although the campus was far away I decided on a school that catered to artists. The excitement to tour the campus of the beautiful school I had chosen to attend in Phoenix was unreal. I got to see the numerous art studios where brilliant ideas were born and get an idea of the classes I would be taking. As prude as I was when it came to viewing the naked body in public at this point in my life, I was even excited to learn about drawing live nude figures! And guess what? You got a brand new Mac computer that you can keep to study and do your work on. Is this real life? It was.

But at last I woke up from the dream once I learned about the outrageous tuition expenses. Back to the drawing board. Or in this case it was the white board that would be used in my boring office for meetings that I would find myself using while continuing the pursuit of my BS in Marketing. That was my future I decided. I'd have the education I believed would lead me in the right direction in order to obtain the American dream and ultimately conform me to fit the societal mold. Perfect.

I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong or why I decide that I couldn't do the things that I told myself for so long that I had wanted to do. I worked in an office job and was blessed with a position in program management. I was proud of what I had accomplished at such a young age without a degree. I loved the technicalities and responsibilities that came with holding the prestigious title. It didn't take long for it to become a bit dreary working in an office that handled serious accidents for the Risk Management team which led me to applying for a job that sounded almost too good to be true. I remember how happy I felt once I parted ways with the company I was at. I was relieved to say goodbye to my extremely stressful boss that did not understand work-life balance and upsetting, tragic meetings.

My rebound job was indeed too good to be true as well and before I knew it I was one of the many laid off. From then on I continued working at restaurants (which I am still doing now), and studied to become a personal trainer. Ok, I admit I've been procrastinating on taking my test just as with everything else I set out to do. I still want to do it. I want to do lots of things. I want a life that I enjoy living where work doesn't seem so much like work. I keep telling myself I need to make things happen then I end up feeling like I sound stupid and put off yet another project I'm excited to work on.

I started this online journal back in April of this year. No one knew about it. I had told my cousin about it but as foolish as it sounds, she was not allowed to know what the forbidden site was called. I hand selected certain passages that I felt were more appropriate or not as embarrassing for another person I knew to read if I decided to share anything. My interest in writing started almost three years ago now when I began keeping a physical journal. I was encouraged by my then boyfriend to write things down whenever I confided in him with my sometimes odd revelations. I couldn't decide if it was a good thing to be encouraged to do or if he legitimately believed that I was insane but thank goodness I listened to a man boy for that advice.

The journal I decided to keep was a cute little brown imitation leather bound item I had bought as a decorative piece. It was very private and hidden in plain site so that if anyone were to visit, they would never dare take a peek for fear of ruining the aesthetics. I decided I actually liked writing about things that came to mind but never in a million years did I think I would be online doing just that. Of course a friend of mine (one of the few that knew about my secret passion) said it was "the blog that no one is allowed to see." Well yes, that is technically what it has been, I just hadn't meant it to be. Truth is that I get scared. I get terrified of people actually seeing who I am. The thing is I can't put my finger on why this was viewed as such a bad thing.

Something happened this past weekend that I am beyond thankful that I got to experience. My best friend that I have gotten to grow into a woman with treated me to a retreat in Prescott, AZ with her church. Given that at one point I almost resented going to church, she was ecstatic when I told her I wanted to go. It wasn't that I didn't like it necessarily, I just really didn't understand. I went to long services Sunday morning and night. I loved those that I had the pleasure of knowing, had the opportunity to go on mission trips and enjoyed several youth group experiences throughout beautiful CO.

It wasn't a bad life I led as a church goer, but I always felt that I was lying to myself pretending I knew what our Pastor was speaking about when really I had learned when to nod and clap on cue. Later on after moving back to Arizona, I decided to give church going another chance which led to me dating a Pastors' son. I had sworn of going to church again due to that fact that he ended up being someone that led two completely different lifestyles. I realize now that we all have our own trials and tribulations, but that was a red flag for me.

I had gotten to the point of being miserable after being laid off. I was emotionally unstable thanks to the hormones in the pill (believe me, it is real) and was debating on filing bankruptcy which I later ended up doing. I felt like a failure.After lunch one day and being bitter about something so minuscule I can't even recall what it was now, my friend had a talk with me. She invited me to church with her if I was ever open to it. The same friend that had been there for me at the lowest part of my life when I felt more depressed than I ever had. The friend that had cried for me because she wanted me to be happy when I didn't know how. I said no. That was about two years ago and I can't say how happy I am that my mindset changed.

I trusted that I could make my move to Las Vegas work and had faith that everything in my life would be as I wanted it to be because I wished it for myself. I am in such a positive place in my life that when I was asked to attend the retreat back in August, my gut response was yes! I am working on being who I know I am deep down. Heck, I recently bought a camera that I can't afford because I am finally giving that creative route a try eight years later. I felt guilty, but only for a second because the excitement to put it to use made me even more excited.

This weekend was emotional. Sometimes I didn't even know why I was crying, the tears just kept rolling down my cheeks as I looked into the other watery eyes in the room. I also had a sore throat from trying to refrain the tears. I would be here all evening trying to explain the specifics of it all, but one thing that really made me find comfort in what I am doing trying to find what makes me happy is a scripture I received. The leaders in the camp had come together to pray over cards for all of us attending the retreat which led to us receiving a scripture for each woman specifically. Mine couldn't have been more perfect for what I needed to hear.

John 15:7

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

As I have been contemplating what I am doing with my life and trying to figure it out, I realize that I am not alone. I was amazed at how real the women that I surrounded myself with this weekend were. They had faced much more than I feel that I ever had yet here they were speaking of His love. It was amazing. I have some work to do on the relationship with Him and myself. I honestly don't know what the future may hold, but I am excited to find out.

Going back to the topic of my creative longing and my spontaneous urge to purchase a camera, I decided that I shouldn't deny myself the things that bring me the most joy. I probably sound like that little girl who keeps changing her mind on what she wants to be when she grows up and thats ok. It might still take some growing up for me to share this site with the world (meaning the one that is filled with people I know on a personal level), but I will get there one step at a time. Hey, I'm still just figuring it out as I go.

Published by Nichole L