How I Found My Creative Self in my 30s

How I Found My Creative Self in my 30s
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Today marks my 34th year around the sun and for my birthday, I wanted to share some words on how I found my true creative self in my 30s. Yes, I’m over 30 and yes, I think women should promote their age and be proud of it.

Big confession: I never felt like I was truly a creative individual until this year. Hear me out. A couple of months ago, I was beyond stressed with my workload (yes, even the CBD fairy gets stressed from time to time). I was talking to my friend about feeling overwhelmed with both my work and personal life workload (getting engaged is so fun, but after you’re done drinking that bubbly, it’s time to get to work and start planning that wedding; update: I haven’t started yet) and told him that, “I never thought I was really creative until this job.” Right when I said those words, I knew this topic was going to be my next story because I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way I do.

Working for a small company as an editorial director has a lot of perks but it also means I wear a lot of hats. Fun hats, chill hats, weird hats, stressful hats… but a lot of hats indeed. This means that I always have to be on top of my game! Working in digital media also means that I’m always working months and seasons ahead whether that’s planning, connecting, developing or writing. Translation: no days off but at least creativity is promoted and fostered in my work environment.

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But first, a little back story…

I mentioned this before, I’m a proud child of immigrant parents. My parents have lived in the same house for the past 40 years in the Bay since they emigrated here in the 70s. During my formative childhood years, I was raised to believe that I should always work for a large corporation. Working in corporate, to my family, meant financial security and stability. It meant that I had a 401(k), health insurance and my future dreams of moving up the corporate ladder could potentially be met. I was taught to not talk back or challenge those superior to me in ranking, and to aim for a stable career.

Every New Year’s Day, all the kids would get together at my eldest uncle’s house before our big lunch of Tteokguk (떡국) or sliced rice cake soup, which symbolized good luck for the new year. After we ate, we would eagerly line up for our New Year’s envelope full of money (in Asian culture, giving money is symbolic of a year of good fortune to come), but before we were given our precious envelope that we would most likely spend on stickers, pogs, or rollerblades, we had to answer the question of: “What are you going to be when you grow up?” correctly. We would always answer, “A doctor or lawyer” and then would receive our envelopes.

You see, to my elders, being a doctor or lawyer meant that one day, we would have a nice home, a stable family, and it meant that we wouldn’t need to worry about paying our bills or experience the same struggles they did. Being a doctor or lawyer meant that I wouldn’t need to struggle here in America as they did. It meant that I would be okay for the rest of my life with my high paying salary. It meant social class stability and a noble career path. Being a doctor or lawyer signified intelligence, hard work, respectability. You had achieved the “American Dream”. What more could you possibly need out of life?

Fast forward to 20-something me attending UCI where I thought, hey, maybe I CAN be a lawyer? To which I quickly realized, nope, that wasn’t the right career path for me.

I ended up graduating in 2008 (which, if you remember, was the worst U.S. economic crisis since the Great Depression) and found myself having post-college blues. What was my purpose? Did I deserve to be happy? Why wasn’t I born with my “passion”? Would I ever find it?

A few unglamorous years later, I eventually got out of my rut and moved to Los Angeles with the help of a recruiter friend.

I was working in customer service, answering 80+ phone calls a day, questioning my existence, but hey, paying bills was a start. Was it my dream job? No, but it got my foot in the door and I made some amazing friends in the creative department along the way. Moral of this story? You never know where something will lead you. Take chances and don’t be afraid to do something that will give you creative experience later.

From there, I got promoted to being a social media manager where I learned EVERYTHING about digital media. I quickly realized how fleeting the Internet’s memory is but I loved it. I got to learn about people, what makes them tick, engage and most importantly, connect. Although I was doing well in my role, for some reason, I never thought of social media as a true creative job because titles were blurry and I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. I wasn’t categorized as being in the marketing or creative department.

So, here’s the thing that I began to realize: we’re all born creative but we suppress it because we’re told that we can’t make a living from it because we’re “too busy” or “it’s not making us enough money.” I was guilty of that! I found myself chasing what I thought I wanted versus pursuing what I knew I wanted deep down. Working in a creative field was a dream job to me but who was I to chase that dream?!

So, I want to challenge that natural inhibitor, that notion that you can’t work in a creative field either because you don’t believe you deserve it or because you don’t believe you have that creative muscle within you. Because when you deny your creativity, you’re denying these beautiful parts of your DNA that need an outlet and eventually, believe me, they will come to light. The choice you have is if you will fight it with frustration and an inner voice of “what if” or if you will dare to explore and channel it constructively. Be bold, let that joyful creativity explode.

When Chriselle asked me if I wanted to be a contributing writer, I was terrified to have a voice here on The Chriselle Factor. Even though I enjoyed writing, I was afraid to put myself out there and again, I sold myself short. I always believed in the power of words but was I any good at it? Did I deserve to have a voice? So many people are better writers than I am, do I have a place here on the Internet? Moral of the story?! Comparison gets you nowhere. Focus on what you love doing, work on your craft, stay true to yourself and keep doing whatever fulfills you. That’s how you blossom, keep evolving and keep creating.

Here are some things I do to stay creative and honest to myself because the journey is hard!!!

My Tips to Embrace Your Creativity

  • Embrace Mother Nature
  • Mediate/Yoga
    • I love going to a sculpt or sweat yoga class. When I practice yoga, it’s truly the only time that I’m able to focus on myself and my body without a cellphone/internet. The mental clarity I have afterward is so soothing and calming. I never thought I would be one of “those people” that bring their own mat and spray while wearing their cute matching Outdoor Voices outfit, but here we are.
  • Get Away
    • Book that Airbnb and travel somewhere new. When you travel to a foreign place, you’re exercising a part of your brain that is usually dormant so it’s actually good for you. Get inspired by a new place, city, and the culture. Not only will it boost your creativity but it will also (hopefully) humble you because you realize how small you are in comparison to the rest of the world.
  • Physically Read
    • I don’t know about you but I’m not into the kindles or digital/audiobooks. I love holding a real book in my hands and using my imagination while reading. Although I don’t read as often as I would like to, there’s so much magic in reading.
  • Listen to music and playlists
  • Block Out Time in Your Calendar
    • Whether it’s to write, research, concept, whatever – when you block out time, do deep contemplation work during that time frame. You’ll be happy with the results.
  • Be Open to Criticism
    • Don’t be easily offended when someone offers you feedback. I used to be so scared of any type of reaction that I wouldn’t do anything and ended up handicapping myself.
  • Stay close to those that inspire you and challenge you
    • If you have a circle of friends who motivate you to be more creative or create better work, keep them close.
  • Dream on!
    • My dad always told me that my head was in the clouds and I lived in the movies but you know what? The fact that I dream that big means that I get a lot more done than limiting myself to the possibilities and parameters of a “normal person.” Whatever that means. I’m able to get so much more done because I do dream big. I’m also loving this book called You Are a Dream by Prof. G right now.
  • Don’t Settle!
    • You deserve to be challenged and live the kind of fulfilling life you want. Of course, it’s easier said than done; no one found happiness by just waiting for it. If you’re not inspired, go find it!


What do you do to stay creative? @ me and let me know in the comments below! Let’s chat!

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