Just Say When

I can't believe I'm saying this, but When Studio turned One this week!
This happened because of you and I'm so grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I have had because of your support and encouragement.
You've heard the phrase about when you shop small, a small business owner does a happy dance... While my dance moves are so-so at best, and few people ever actually see these 'happy dances', instead I'd like to tell you a bit about what it has meant for me.
From the day I discovered a crayon, I was drawing. Whatever piece of scrap paper or notebook my parents left unattended, I was there. My mom would keep little notepads and crayons in her purse for trips to restaurants, appointments, really any time I would have to sit still for a little while. 
It was fun. A lot of people will say that drawing is a talent, but I think two things contribute to that way of thinking; practice and empowerment. Practice, because I believe that if you do anything long enough and diligently enough, you can be great at it. But almost more importantly, is empowerment, especially the empowerment that comes (or doesn't come) from the people we value most. When we are little the world starts to tell us from day 1 what we can and cannot do well. What we are good at and what we aren't. Sometimes we aren't even asked if we like something before we are deemed talented and encourage to keep up with it. 
We are told to pursue our talents, forget about the other stuff. Maybe it's because society tells us that our talents are the quickest route to success. Maybe it's because our talents are believed to come more naturally and you won't have to fight as hard for the life you want. And that's what most people want for us, to live our best lives.
So with that in mind, I won the jackpot by finding something I enjoyed and I was empowered to practice. That's right, I was lucky to be considered talented.
Lucky?! Why would I say that?! 
Because when you believe you are good at something, it stays fun for you, you have the confidence to keep pursuing it.
But then you get a little older and the world comes in again and layers on a dose of "practicality". If you're lucky, your "talent" is going to make money... If you have the "wrong" talent, society tells you to shift your focus. 
"When I grow up I want to be an Artist."
That was it. That was the intention.  It was set at age four. 
Do you remember yours? 
The trouble with waiting until you grow up, is that I've learned there's no set time, and different parts of you grow at different speeds. You could feel mostly grown up and then some days you're back in your infancy. 
When they asked that question, four year old me figured everyone grew up at the same age, or the same milestones.
So I went ahead and grew.
But the time never presented itself.
The GPS never said "you've arrived at your destination".
So I stopped the metaphorical car and got out. A pandemic hit and like you, it made me rethink everything.
In my thirties, an architect, married, a mom of two sweethearts, the script practically wrote itself. 
Except, during a pandemic on mat leave, I wasn't drawing houses. I found myself drawing fruit. Really bright fruit. A few colours, super minimalist, easy to draw for a "talented" person for a few hours after baby bedtime.
And it felt really good. I felt like I could take a break from an all engulfing global pandemic where each day I would tell my kids they were safe when really I had no way to protect them. These little drawing vacations to my IPad let me process the stresses, the worries, the guilt... The decisions that my parents never had to make for their kids. It was colour in a sea of grey decisions. 
And it made me feel great. But what about for you? What could I do for you? I knew I wasn't the only one feeling this way, but I also knew I had the privilege of an outlet. Too many of us don't.
So I called it When I Grow Up Studio (When Studio) as a time stamp for myself. Also a nod to the idea of "if not now, When?" A challenge for myself. Because as it turns out, you are in control of the 'growing up' and a lot of the time, that happens when you show up and step up.
If I've learned one thing in this first year of business, it's that it wasn't just about taking the first step, it was about taking a walk. And everyday you decide to take one more step and find where it takes you. How fast, how slow, how long the stride is, it doesn't really matter because progress is rooted in the choice to move forward and the action you take to see it through.
 So now when if you take a minute to think about that dream you had on repeat, in my case, "When I grow up I want to be an artist", try cutting out that first part... The part that holds you back... waiting... 
Because when you decide to strike through that first bit, you'll find you're just left with the dream. And it's a lot less scary to realize that the dream was actually just fact and you've been living it, embodying it all along. That the only thing that was holding you back from that first step was actually yourself, with a few little words, borrowed from a question you've had the answer to for a pretty long time.
And that's what I've been all along. An Artist.
I've always been able to do it, I just had to say "When".
So thank you for being you and making When Studio my dream come true, truly couldn’t do it without you!

Xo, Amanda

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