The Art of Starting (and Stopping)
I can’t even begin to count the amount of times in my life that I have chosen to start something, with guns blazing, only for it to come to a screeching halt at some point later down the road. Part of this is simply growing up, exploring hobbies and passions, and allowing interests to wax and wane as time goes on.
In elementary school, I collected things with an intense focus: stickers in second grade, beanie babies in third grade, Pokemon cards in fourth grade, and Spice Girl lollipop stickers in fifth grade. In sixth grade, my obsession with designers was borderline crazy. I loved Prada. I became an expert in fake bags and how to spot the most convincing knock offs. Somehow in middle school, my designer obsession switched to knitting. Say what? I know. Don’t ask. I probably knitted a total of two really heinous scarves. (Sorry Mom if I ever gave you one of those as a present!)
In high school, I had an intense interest in France. I took French classes, did several teen tour/study programs in France over the summer, and even studied abroad in Rennes during my junior year of high school. Despite all of that, my French is now complètement nul. C’est dommage! All I can say is that I accomplished my goal of getting a French boyfriend. Aww yeah!
When I returned back to NYC for my senior year, I became really interested in going to flea markets and second hand shops. I found the process of sifting through clothing therapeutic. I decided I wanted to start an Ebay business; however, I sold a few things on my account and nothing more ever came of it.
In 2007, I started my Freshman year at USC with an undeclared major. I dabbled with the idea of film, French, creative writing, communications, and even international relations. When I befriended several art students my second semester I thought, OMG YO, this is what I’m meant to be doing too! I went with my gut and started my degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in graphic design and a minor in ceramics. Check out my final ceramics project and a super emo goth drawing of mine below- good lord! Oh, and spoiler alert, I worked as a graphic designer for a few years after college, and then completely changed careers.
When I came back home after first year at college, I decided that the coolest thing I could possibly do was become a bartender. You’re allowed to bartend when you’re a mere eighteen years old in NYC. My friend Lucy and I completed a week long bartending course out in Long Island, I somehow convinced a restaurant on the upper east side to hire me, and I attempted to mix drinks for about three months. I sucked at it. That was the end of my bartending career.
During the summer of 2010, I became obsessed with the clothing store All Saints. I desperately wanted to work there. I thought it was the be all end all of kewl-ness. I connected with the head honcho of recruiting, who secured a position for me in the Santa Monica store once I got back to LA in August for my senior year at college. After working at All Saints for one entire month, and after commuting back and forth on two super sketchy buses to and from the USC campus since I was without a car, I decided it fully sucked and I quit. Peace out, shitty retail job!
In 2011, after graduating from college, I began to work as a graphic designer. One day, sitting at my desk procrastinating from doing some meaningless work, I discovered Grace Chon of Shine Pet Photos. Not too long after, I wrote her an email:
So I guess I decided rather swiftly I wanted to become a dog photographer. When my boyfriend and I moved to Boston in 2012, I bought a cheap SLR Canon camera off of Ebay and linked up with a Boston photographer who allowed me to assist him during a shoot for the MSPCA (despite having no idea what I was doing). Aaand that was the only time I ever photographed dogs! HA! After that, I took one intensive day long photography course at some point, and that was the extent of my photography career. Woop woop!
Side note, totally had a momentary stint with surfing over the course of a few trips and summers. What can I say, eh?! I’m a Jane of all trades!
Next passion I picked up: drawing. I’ve always been creative and artistic my whole life. Aimlessly scrolling through instagram one day in 2014, I came across some hand lettering accounts. The first two I found completely blew my mind: @roxyprima and @draw_ul. I felt incredibly inspired by their talent, so I decided to give it a go myself. I started hand lettering, and created my own instagram account for it: @bean_robin. I worked tirelessly on these pieces. Some of them took me up to eight hours from the initial sketch, outline, to final inking. My hand ached and my neck was strained, but I hadn’t felt enthusiastic in this way about something in quite a long time. And for my standards, I stuck with with for a long time. My account was active for a little over a year.
In April of 2015, I unintentionally fell into my next passion: fitness. And spoiler alert, this is one of the few things that I have stuck with. Fitness helped me change my life not just physically, but in a emotional and spiritual sense as well. As I gained a following on my instagram account, I realized that the combination of both exercise and social media helped me find my place in the world. I started to feel excited about life in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Pokemon cards (tee hee!), graphic design, and hand lettering were all great, but the intertwining of fitness and social media gave me purpose.
But, taking a closer look within this period of my life, my habits of starting and stopping things still persisted. Some examples:
-I started a hashtag called #IBeanDranking where I would post a new healthy drink each week. I did this for a total of two weeks.
-I started my own #MotivationMonday hashtag where I would share motivation tips each Monday. This lasted for a month or two.
-I started a 1 minute video update that I thought I would often post onto my account. Nope. Did it one time.
-I started this blog in April 2016 with the intention of posting on it regularly… this did not happen.
-I started a YouTube channel and posted one video on it.
-I started several books and stopped reading them half way through.
-I started mediating for a few days here and there, and then completely stopped.
Here’s the thing. I look back at old hobbies and passions that I started and stopped with a fondness in my heart. I see a lot of those moments as steps that I had to make, or even trudge through, to get to where I am today.
I do have an issue, however, with some of my present day starts and stops. Why? Because they are things that I still have an interest in pursuing. I want to work on my blog because I love to write, and I want to expand my platform from solely instagram. I want to create a YouTube channel because I enjoy the process of making videos, I think that I’m good on camera, and I truly love the process of editing. I want to read more books (both fiction and non-fiction) to keep my creativity running and to continually learn. I want to meditate so that I can focus internally and learn to not look at a screen every other ten seconds. And the list goes on. Somehow, I have managed to find excuses not to do any of these things. Yes, I am busy, but if these things are important to me, I need to make the time for them.
There’s nothing wrong with starting and stopping. As we grow, shift, and shape into our current selves, we are endlessly trying on new hats and then exchanging them for others till we find what feels like the right fit. But I challenge you, as I have just done for myself, to identify something that you’ve stopped, whether recently or a long time ago, but still feel attached to. Is there an activity you gave up but feel a nagging feel to try again? A person you used to hang out with, but haven’t talked to in awhile? A hobby you used to pursue after work hours but let go for whatever reason? Whatever it is, if there’s something drawing you towards it, give it another shot. Begin slow if you have to, set parameters if that helps to give you structure… and start.