Why I went creative

Ayn Rand once said, “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”

This quote resonated with my several years ago when I was deciding what way I wanted my life to go. To set a bit of context, I had started University as a Physics and Math double major...I know, pretty nerdy...but at the time I thought that was what I wanted to do. I had always been into art, mainly drawing, and loved to express my creativity whenever I could. I found that I was not getting the fulfillment I needed in being a physics and math double major. Don’t get me wrong, to this very day I love math and science and regularly read scientific journals to stay up to date in the world of science, but it was not my path.

Here is a photo of me contemplating why I dropped out of school

Something that many people who know me have asked has been, “How did your parents deal with you switching majors?” and honestly it wasn’t the smoothest of sailing. As all parents they were concerned, and I think rightfully so, because deciding to go into the creative field in this day is extremely challenging. You face very stiff competition and ruthless clients who don’t give your what you deserve. But think about it, everywhere you look, everything you touch, had a creative person’s hands on it. This means the opportunities are out there, and it’s these opportunities that I decided to chase.

Flash forward to a couple years after I finish my degree in photography and you find me as a struggling freelance photographer. I was hustling through, but nowhere near where I wanted to be. That’s when I decided to go back to school for business of all things. Why business? I figured it would be beneficial to me as a photographer because I could make it more into a business and step up my game. Not only that, but by this point I had developed a huge desire to be an entrepreneur. Since I was little I was always making little businesses or selling things here and there to make some money. In high school, i’d come home many times with anywhere from $50-$200! From early on I realized there is money out there and people will pay if what you’re selling is worth it. So going to school for business, I had hoped it would give me more tools to know how to start with my business ideas (right now I have 27 business ideas).

One day my success will let me afford a car like this. Stubborn me will not buy it and just travel instead

What threw a little hitch into my plan was that I had to leave the business school one semester before graduation. Without going into too much detail, the school lied and stole from me, and there was no way I could stay. So here I am, business school dropout, what do I do? I turn back to my creative skills. I realized the parts of having a business that I really don’t like. I am very anti-corporate thinking. I don’t think of people as customers, I think of people as people. I want to enrich the lives of those who I get to work with and who buy things from me. As a creative you have so many avenues for making an income, the downside of this is that you need an audience to really make strides. This is why currently my focus has gone to creating. I create surreal Photoshop manipulations in my free time, and still go out shooting photography on a regular basis. Meanwhile, doing freelance gigs to get by. Is it the easiest path? No. Believe me, If I had stuck with the physics and math double major years ago, i’d have a stable job by now that pays very well, But sometimes you just don’t get fulfillment from certain things and that’s okay. You need to find where you fit best. And for someone, that may be in the scientific fields, that’s totally okay, but for me, my heart lies in creating and when your heart lies in something you have to pursue it with all that you’ve got.

Gary Vaynerchuk put it very simply when he said, “Without hustle, your talent will only get you so far.”

It’s a hustle to be a creative and an entrepreneur. I’ve not given up any of the business ventures that I have going and planned, but it takes time, hustle, and determination. For now, I am building my creative audience and in time i’ll have the means to further pursue some of my business ideas, until then, hustle hard!

I’m really interested to hear about your experiences in either pursuing your passion or what you would like to do! And if you want to hear more about entrepreneurship then definitely let me know because I have a few nuggets of wisdom that I think many people could find helpful, I know I could have used a lot of information when I was starting out.

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Love Yourself, Love Others, Love the Earth,

Tom Kai

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