I moved out of my parents' house at seventeen—a week before my senior year of high school.
It was an intense situation as it was, but to be completely honest, I had never truly been happy there. Moving out was almost like the shift that I never knew I really needed until I manifested it.
If you would have asked me then if I was okay, the answer would have been yes. The answer would have been that I had never been better.
That may have somewhat been true, but on the inside, I was more vulnerable than I had ever been—purging the only life I had known for the past seventeen years. Sure, this is what I wanted, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. I was scared, my feelings and intentions open to the world for the very first time. I secretly drew on the strength of those that were there and happy for me. I didn’t transfer to a new high school until that new school’s second trimester, so being with my lifelong friends helped in the transition. By the time I moved on, I was okay. I was ready.
I discovered Christina soon after I moved out. I don’t at all remember how I found her account on Instagram, but I immediately fell in love with her work and her personality.
I would never attribute a tremendous amount of personal growth to someone other than myself, but I still give credit where it is due: Christina catapulted my spiritual path. She was the first person I had ever discovered on Instagram that had a lifestyle centered around spiritual growth. She was also an artist, and the more enamored I became with her lifestyle, the more spiritual artists I discovered. People expressing their own souls and stories in ways I never thought possible.
I found them in a time that, now, I see that I needed them the most. But I also recognize that the vulnerability I was left with in such a huge shift allowed me to idolize Christina and other artists, defining my own success in comparison to theirs. During a time where I was busy rebuilding my whole self and existence, there they were. I realized that I wanted to be an artist “like them,” because that was how I would be happy. It’s how they were.
It wasn’t a stretch for me. I had dabbled with paint throughout my childhood, and the people outside of me, even myself, saw that I was simply discovering a passion that had been there all along. Everyone knew that I had a creative soul, and it didn’t feel wrong; I liked to paint. The more time went by, the more I wanted to be an artist for a living. Around the time this conviction strengthened, I also finally realized that I didn’t want to work in a corporate environment and that I wanted to start my own business to help people become their best selves—as I recognized already that that path was important—so I told myself that I could sell artwork alongside whatever else I chose to do, health coaching or however I felt called to help people.
This was the perfect path for me for a long time.
Then, one day, Instagram locked me out of my account.
I tried for hours to retrieve it, to many dead-end steps and no avail. This panicked me for a bit; my plan to grow on social media and promote my business that way was simply erased, to be reconstructed as if all my efforts were for naught.
As I concluded that there was no hope for my account, I started to realize some things. First off, I only had about 600 Instagram followers. I don’t know if that sounds like a lot to you… but that is nowhere near the business promotion I was acting like I had. And secondly, my business had not even started yet! I didn’t have a website, I only had one and a half paintings ready to sell, and absolutely no customers.
I had already begun climbing a ladder of entitlement for something that I hadn’t even worked all that hard for yet.
After I began seeing these thought and habit patterns, I decided that staying away from the bulk of social media was a good idea. In the end, I wasn’t very active on anything aside from Instagram stories anyway, because I no longer felt inspired by my own content or my surroundings enough to create more.
I now had a lot more time on my hands than I expected I would gain (raise your hand if you also let social media consume hours of your day unknowingly). I started to read a new book called Start. I’d owned it for years. It had gone through multiple book purges due to the strange commitment I felt to read it “eventually,” and in all honesty, I figured I could get it over with so that I could hand it over to Half Price Books next chance I got.
I didn’t expect it to change my life.