As some people know I have been off my legs for a few months now, recovering and exploring other interests of mine including photography, writing, and film. I have also had an opportunity to do some fitness modeling which I have always wanted to do. I have been lucky enough to sign with a fitness modeling agency, and this past month I got my first big job working with Adidas. This was extremely exciting and rewarding, and I am hoping that I can continue to explore this field of work because I never realized how fulfilling and empowering it would feel.
Another exciting change that I have made with my life is dedicating more time to my creative self. I was accepted into a summer program at USC where I studied Music Video Production. Now when I tell people that they are surprised, music videos, really? why would you ever study film? I thought you loved volleyball. My answer is yes, I do love playing volleyball. But I also have other loves, and the arts is one of them. This music video production course inspired me in ways I never imagined. I not only made my first music video (watch it on my website), but met a group of kick ass people that taught me so much about the business and the film industry. Challenging my capabilities with brutal honesty and providing me with support and hands-on experience. I couldn’t be happier that I spent all the money I made in Puerto Rico on a summer long film course. It sounds crazy, but It was exactly what I needed. I know you're thinking, ‘you should have saved that money’ or ‘you should've invested it’, ok yeah thats probably what the smart, financially responsible adult would have done. But I genuinely wanted to learn in a field I have always wanted to study. I remember learning at San Jose State that I couldn’t be an illustrator due to scheduling conflicts with the athletic and art departments, this changed everything for me. And since then, I have been eager to get back to my creative self. If you knew me in high school, I rearranged my schedule so that I was working the majority of my time in the art studio; creating my own work in independent study art classes. That was me, that has always been me, and now I miss that. So I have decided to do everything in my power to get that side of me out again.
In my time off, I have also volunteered at the San Francisco Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival. These amazing places have brought me closer to people like me; people that enjoy watching movies by themselves, going to talks about careers in film, going to museums, exploring cities, drinking tea at the botanical gardens, and ultimately creating art in all forms. Whenever I would tell my fellow athletes about this they would often laugh, thinking I was weird and unusual. But this is something I’ve always loved, even if I was too afraid to love it. For a long time I kept these desires a secret, in fear of what people might say. But recently, I have stopped caring about what people may say and began creating. I want to create so many things from film, photography, design, and music. It sounds like too much, but at this point, I don't think anything is too much for me to handle. This does not mean I don’t love volleyball, because I do. I really, honestly, enjoy the competitiveness of sport. I have grown as a person through volleyball and learned how to fight despite all odds against me. I often welcome a challenge, and when people doubt my motives, it drives me even further. But right now, I have shifted my focus towards another career aspiration of mine.
My career so far has been hectic, unlucky, and yet, extremely beneficial. I have had a diverse group of coaches, all teaching me in unexpected ways. In the two most recent teams I have played for I have had unfortunate endings, and a rude awakening to professional sport. My first coach asked me to leave within a week and while on the second team, I was told to leave due to injury. Through these experiences I was left confused at my goals, what does it mean to be a professional athlete? who do I aspire to be? can I be the best in the world without being on a national team? why am I still not satisfied after making it to my ultimate athletic goal, the olympics? I am still confused, where do I want this to go? This past month I found out from my doctors that I will be out for at least another 3 months. Although I had signed a contract to play in France, the coach was extremely understanding and taught me a lot about the importance of recovery. At this time, I am just not physically fit to play, so I am not playing for a team. It is best to give myself a break, because that is what my body is telling me at the moment. If I listen to my mind, I would play to fight against belittling expectations, to reward those who have supported me (my mother, you, my coach), and to make the right financial decision. I would also be able to travel, something I have always enjoyed doing while playing a sport I love. From a financial standpoint, I need the money and the stability of volleyball. But for my wellbeing, I need rest.
I know these words are jumbled like my thoughts, and I know the alternative to playing volleyball seems ridiculous and unreliable. But what other time than now should I explore this? I’m 21 and I’ve already experienced the peeks and lows of one career, now I have the opportunity to put the same time and effort into my other interests. I feel more clear in that I now know financial stability is not what I want out of life. As cliche as it sounds, I do seek a life more meaningful and my wellbeing is my highest priority. I hope I can continue to see that as I continue my journey in life and my responsibilities become greater.
Moving forward, I don’t know what is next? I booked a flight to London not knowing whats in store for me. All I know is right now I can’t walk away from the arts. I love work; I’ll give everything I have just to improve my craft. Quite honestly I’m very far behind my peers; I do not own a rediculously expensive camera, I don’t have a degree in the arts, and I’m not a techy person who can tell you everything about computers, lights, and cameras. But what I do have is determination unlike anyone: if I make a goal, I will achieve it. I have experience in a diverse range of things from sports, to psychology, to traveling, to teaching, to art. I have books of my writing; from poetry that has never been read allowed, to blogs, to short-stories, and treatments. I have a unique, creative eye, and I know what looks good and what looks bad. I can communicate problems and I can work in team environments. I am open-minded yet firm in my beliefs; I am willing to listen but I won’t always agree with you. I know I have what it takes and by writing this now I am making an agreement with myself and anyone reading this that I will make it in the arts industry. Whether it is 5 or 10 or 20 years down the line, I will become a director and I will win awards for my work. Taking this leap of faith and trusting in my work and my capability, is all part of the dream.
"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." ~ Steve Jobs