When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to move to a big city.
I had also decided I wanted to be a journalist because of my two favorite shows, Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown. These women were everything I wanted to be: independent, successful and confident.
Of course, if I watch these shows now, I realize I totally missed everything they had to overcome. Why don’t I remember Murphy Brown’s addiction problems?!
At the age of eight, I loved to write and draw. I had notebooks in which I would try out different handwriting, do math problems, and sketch everything I could think of. I was constantly re-sketching and rewriting everything. Nothing was ever good enough. I would crumple and toss pages after spending hours on them. I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to practice. And I was practicing what I loved.
I would freak out if anyone found my sketchbooks. I felt like they were my journal and all my drawings represented my emotions. Instead of using words, I would draw. It was what I used to escape and get out of the real world.
I couldn’t hide my love for art. I was lucky that my elementary school art teacher noticed my potential and, unbeknownst to me, signed me up for award shows. He knew that, had he told me, I wouldn't have agreed to it. And so I became one of the youngest students to get awarded for an air and space museum art contest and was also handpicked for scholarships to local museum art classes. My parents made sure I was able to attend each class, even if that meant taking a taxi home with my mother who doesn’t drive while my father had work. At the time, I was so embarrassed for my peers to witness the taxi-rides, but if it weren’t for humility, those pushes, and support, I would have never shared my art with anyone! Being confident has been a life-long struggle. I still have my shy moments or those times when I don't feel 100 percent "on."
By age 16, I felt it was time to begin thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Looking at the stacks of sketchbooks and notebooks that had been piling up for nearly a decade, I decided I would go to school for journalism. Once I began school, it didn’t take me long to discover my passion for graphic design.
One year after graduation, my husband and I had made our move to a big city. While the possibilities seemed endless, I had problems: I didn’t have a job lined up, I was at my heaviest weight, and I accepted an unpaid internship. I no longer felt like myself and fell into a slight depression. It was hard to leave my small studio apartment some days. It seemed I had lost all the confidence I developed through the years.
Eventually, I realized that the best thing I can do in life is to take care of myself. One of the mottos I began to follow was “Work harder on yourself than anything else,” as that, yourself, is where growth and success originate.
I would make eight-year-old Anna proud. I’m okay that all the details aren’t the same as I had once envisioned. I would be proud that I am independent, successful, and getting paid for what I’ve been doing for decades. Sketching, re-sketching, crumpling up papers, and starting over again.