I've been dreaming about this moment for SO LONG. Years and years of dreaming about it, thinking about, talking about it. My Pinterest boards brimming with ideas on style, layout, functionality. It's been a looong journey in looking for the perfect space. First of all, I've been broke. I moved back into my parents house while trying to figure out how to make a living as an Artist, and stabilise Project Mirro. That was at the end of 2017. I told myself, i'd find a way to be able to move out again after a year or two. Work a lot, save money, get a studio - that was my mantra all this while. Fast forward to now, early 2019, after about a year running Project Mirro, working on a variety of wonderful creative projects and collaborations , months of research and visiting spaces, I found a place perfect for Project Mirro.
It was a long process looking for the perfect space because of the typical layout of studios in KL that i'm not very fond of. For some reason, the architects think it is a good idea to only have 1 window in the entire place, situated right at the bedroom. The living space and kitchen do not have their own windows and is dependent on that one window in the bedroom. This means that one must switch on the lights in order to be in the kitchen during broad daylight, and 2, people who depend on natural light to work such as myself won't be able to use the space effectively.
A few weeks ago, I was doing my usual iProperty / PropertyGuru scroll, and I came across a unit in a building I was familiar with. I've never seen this layout before in the building and immediately I had a good feeling. It is a 2 bedroom space, with big windows all around, affordable, and in a building I liked. I went to visit the space the same week, and put down a deposit. Now it's mine, and i've gotten the keys! It all happened so fast.
It's an empty unit though, and I will probably need to patiently furnish the place as I go. I will have one space for my bedroom, one space for my studio, and a living space that i'll turn into a showroom. Finally, I have a space to call my own, and keep all my artworks in one place. I could also start painting larger pieces now that I have space! I could finally run my workshops too. Everything is FINALLY falling into place.
I am also entering the new semester of lecturing, and I will be teaching Product Development and Career Development. I have realized that teaching is something that comes very natural to me, I enjoy it and I feel good when my students do well. I think it is something I will carry on in the future.
A few years back, if you told me this is how my life would turn out, i'd be asking "are you sure?" At the time, I thought a "good life" didn't exist. I would forever be a slave to a 9-5, life is about paying bills and surviving, and what I wanted in life was too much to ask for. I am glad I decided to risk it and explore an alternative life. A life that is not necessarily the easiest path, but would work for me in the long run. It was a BIG leap of faith, going against everything i've been taught as a stereotypical Asian person. Picking a "safe" career option is safe, and that is all it is.
Now that I made those big decisions - to quit my job, give up my apartment, give up my car, move to London, study, come back, move into my parents place, start Project Mirro, find jobs to try to make it as an artist, while lecturing on the side - was it all worth it in the end? How is my quality of life now?
My quality of life is TENFOLDS much more healthier, happier, productive and fulfilling. You CAN have a good life after all. You CAN have a life that works for YOU, makes YOU happy, AND pay the bills at the same time. I never thought one could be THIS happy and stress free and still make money. Of course, it took a few years of grinding, no money, no income for me to get to this place, but it was all worth it for me.
Now when I look around the life I used to have, with the friends who are still in that life, I can see how much I grew from that experience. From now on, I will never subject myself to a life that is "safe" to societies standards. I know myself enough to know that I am able to design and create a life that I want as long as I make intentional changes to my lifestyle and work hard for it. I remember the time I worked soooo much for a salary (that is still higher than average) but it was still, just a salary. I work for a fraction of the time now, for much more money. But money was never my goal, it was peace and fulfilment that I was chasing.
Work doesn't feel like work anymore. It's become part of my life, part of my day to day. I don't even realize im working. Thats how much fun i'm having. I am so blessed and grateful for all the ups and downs and that inner voice in me that kept me going. I am so glad I never gave up this dream of mine.
To most creatives and artists out there who have dedicated their entire lives to their craft, I am not sure they can relate to me right now. I am an individual that has been taught, from a young age, to suppress my creative spirit all this while in lieu of a job that "pays the bills" and a professional career.
It was a really big decision for me to make that leap a few years ago. I had to go against what what was expected of me, prove everyone wrong, and continuously do what I love despite little support from my family.
That's why, moving out into my own studio, being financially stable and independent less than a year after launching Project Mirro, is a big next step for me. It proves that i'm able to make a living doing what I love. Something my parents and a lot of other people thought was impossible as an artist in Malaysia (even though there are MANY artists in Malaysia who are making a living with their art) My parents (more like my mom's) idea of "stable" is to be a Management Consultant and work for PWC/BCG, or a lawyer, or work in corporate finance. Something she wants for me but funnily she doesn't do for herself (#moms) I don't understand why she would want that for me when everyone I know who is a consultant has become the most miserable people I know. Is it even worth it? To some it is, for a free spirit like me, my soul will die. Until today, despite all the exciting projects i've completed as a full time artist, my mother is still suspicious and weary of this career choice altogether. However, it doesn't stop her from bragging to all of her friends when my project gets featured in the media (insert shrugging emoji)
In life, you cannot always depend on other people to validate or approve of your life choices. Sometimes you just gotta do what you feel and think is right for YOUR life. Taking risks and having courage to take risks and believing in yourself, is one of the most valuable lessons i've learned throughout this journey. Courage to fight for what you believe in, courage to choose to believe in yourself even when you doubt yourself, or when others doubt you.
I also believe people who are unhappy with their own lives also propels them to stop you from doing what you love. As much as I hate to admit this, some people can become envious and jealous of you when you try to chase your own dream, and may try to sabotage you or stop you. If I could get RM1 for every person who tried to stop me from doing what I do now, i'd be rich. It's sad for me to admit this, but it is true. It's up to you to defend your dream in these instances. And i'm glad I did.
I'm very excited to start this new chapter of my life, and i'm very proud of myself to have made it this far despite all the challenges i've faced. It really is possible to create a life that you want!
Till next time!