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I’ve generally always been a smart person which is what gave my family the expectations they have for me. I felt this “blessing” of knowledge has become more of a curse over time. My obsession with finding some unique ways to express who I am that aren’t necessarily educational, or something that I already knew how to do, led me to my new passion in art. I started out terrible. I knew that I had found what I wanted to devote my life to, but I never knew what type of art that would be. I’d written stories in the past, but I didn't know if there existed careers that included art or writing in them that I would be able to do, and I wanted something to do with music as well since that's one of my biggest inspirations.

My journey really started when I was in a darker place in my life. I was figuring out I was trans, I found a song called “self care” by Mac Miller. Since I liked it, I thought it was a good idea to look him up, if you want know what I found just look him up yourself. It was an odd thought to know I was listening to the voice of someone who isn't alive anymore, and it made me think about how I was mentally myself. I knew that I made art, and if anyone were to see it, might have that same ghostly feeling in their gut that I did finding Mac. I knew that I wasn’t in a good mental space and was considering “things” but just listening to that song made me feel sick to my stomach. It made me think more about it and whether that option was what I wanted to do to myself, so I guess you could say I was saved by music’s past or something cheesy like that, but I don't care.

“You can't make money pursuing art, you need to find a real job” is something I'm used to hearing, especially when I tell people I do freelance art, make music, etc. And I'm self aware enough to know when things sound cliche, but I don't plan on letting that stop me. For me, I don't want to make art for the money or some sort of internet fame that will give me some weird satisfaction, but I just want to make people happy whether my name is known throughout art history or not, that's what I'm putting my time towards. Obviously, if I sell art it's going to give me money, but that's not the point. I want to be the person for someone that I needed when I was hurting…BUT, when I look at jobs people keep telling me “to settle” because “it's your first job, you need experience”. I don't plan on ever settling. I learned that I can change the plan but never change the goal, and that's what I plan on doing. And if I were to settle, then I’d just be doing what everyone else seems to be doing, sitting around 9-5, barely making it by, and not enjoying life. After seeing this happen to many people in and out of my life, I knew that I needed to break that cycle and figure out how to practice better “self care”. Heh, puns. Whether my dreams become a reality isn't something I wonder; I know what I'm going to do with my life, and I don't think I could do anything else if I tried.

© Reagan Melecio. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.