Hi! I’m Angelia Trinidad. And this is my story:
The Realization: Mid-College Crisis
"What do I do with my life?"
Overwhelmed by uncertainty, I had hit a mid-college crisis. Sounds ridiculously dramatic I know, but to an over achiever surrounded by and competing with other overachievers, the struggle is real. I was finishing my second year at UCLA as a premed major, along with the other 85% of the other freshmen pursuing a career in medicine.
Raised in a strict Asian household where perfectionism is standard and B's are equivalent to failure, I was expected to either become an a) doctor b) engineer c) lawyer d) college professor e) nurse. For the first time, I didn’t want what my parents or family members wanted for me. I wanted an F; freedom to do what I wanted. And I wanted to make art.
My History with Art
Art has always been my outlet. Growing up in a poor military family, we couldn't get the bells and whistles all the other kids had. My favorite possession was a high quality eraser my neighbor had given me. I drew and drew, never fearing mistakes with my handy eraser in hand. If a line ventured off course, I knew could always go back and rub it out.
In high school, drawing was my home away from home. A piece of paper and pencil was the equivalent to a plane ticket on a new journey. Sometimes I would work in solitude, other times I would draw while talking to someone, or watching tv, or sitting in class. It was my safe place away from the drama of sports, clubs, and all the other things I needed to juggle as a wee overachieving straight-A kid. My drawings were products was the result of a slow, steady and gradual process that culminated into a final visual product.
The Switch: Bye bye Doctor Dreams!
In college my passion for art was strengthened and challenged. After being rejected by the Art Department once, I applied again and was accepted the following quarter. Then I signed the paperwork and without telling my parents I made the switch from Pre-Med to Art.
I loved being an art major. We brainstormed, researched, collaborated, built, failed, and tried over and over again. After a couple of weeks our projects were due, they were critiqued in front of the whole class, professor and teaching assistant and we moved onto the next project. It was my favorite learning style, systematic with a little wiggle room.
It was an amazing experience. I loved it because my professors and peers we’re so amazing, and they structured their class much like I wish real life was. We started with nothing, we’re given a prompt or general direction and a time frame in which we would work and were sent to “make it work”. It was true trial by fire.
But.. I hated being an art major. Without the structure of the sciences and multiple choice tests I would feel like I was floating in a vast ocean with no life jacket. I would often hit a dead end in my projects spending hours running in circles. Everyone was still fiercely competitive, ready to use their overwhelming vocabularies as missiles in their vocal arsenals.
Professors had obvious favorites and because of their prestige and status students clung to every word they spoke. And lastly, when most people would find out that I was an art major and then ask me “So, uhhh what do you plan on doing with that after college?” (especially my family) I would say “Hm, I’m not sure, but I know it is something that I love.”
It was truly a flip flopping of emotions.
The Most Important Thing Art Taught Me
Art has taught me so much over the course of my life. It has taught me patience, collaboration, direction, and focus. But most of all it has taught me
how to make something out of a mere idea and hard work.
So here I am, a proud recent UCLA graduate with no “real job”, no paid benefits, no 401k. But I do have big dreams, a giving and grateful heart, a driven soul, and an amazing support system of friends and family. And I think that's plenty.
I Don't Love Art.
I realize now that I don't love art. I love:
- the process of art
- the conversations about art
- the collaboration of art
- the feeling that you get when you see a piece and you just know that its beautiful, heart wrenching, soulful, powerful, heartfelt, relaxed, carefree.. etc.
- the freedom to do just what I feel in the present moment without having to justify why
- teaching the fundementals of art and seeing the beauty that unfolds when I let my students follow their intuitions and just go with the flow
- the act of sharing art, feelings, ideas
(I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it all) Sigh, I don't love art.. but I love all of the above. The day that I realized this,
I realized you could substitute the word "art" with any other passion.
Kayaking, skiing, collecting pokemon cards... WHATEVA! This realization led me to become a passionate chaser of LEARNING. I love experimentation, cross referencing different skills, and being the ready apprentice of amazing mentors of all ages and talents.
(Side note plug alert: Are you freakin amazing at something amazing making you amazingly amazinger and willing to teach me that amazing ability?
MESSAGE ME PLEASE! I beg you... Haha, but seriously, get in touch with me! Even if I have to learn through Skype, me flying out to you, phone calls, text messages.. we will make it work.)
For Every Problem There are Many Solutions: Passion Planner
I woke up and checked my phone, I had been sleeping for 14 hours, recovering from the back to back to back all nighter that I had pulled to ship all of the Passion Planners that had been ordered.
I received my Passion Planner today and all i can say is WOW!!! i suffer from certain Learning disabilities that i have struggled with since i was young and those disabilities are mainly regarding organizing and keeping schedules, so i am looking for things to help me in that regard!! this is it!!!! can not wait to use this as the New Year Starts!!!!
Thank you so much for making life that much easier and more organized for me!!!!
I started crying. This was the first thank you email I had ever received from someone who was helped by my planner. In that moment, all of the doubts, all of the fears, and all of the sleepless nights didn’t matter. That morning everything changed. My dream of helping people all over the world was becoming a reality.
Passion Planner was the tool that I made to make peoples passions a priority. It is an all-in-one weekly appointment calendar, journal, goal setting guide, and to-do list log integrated in one notebook. What I like to call a life coach that fits in your backpack.
In just 23 days, more than 1,000 people from over 40 countries contributed $48,030 to turn my dream into a reality. In just two very very sleepless months I was able to turn a sketch in my notebook into an actual product that was helping people all over the world find clarity, balance, and gratitude in their lives. Within a month after my Kickstarter campaign, Passion Planner had reached the number two best rated planner on Amazon.com.
But the road to Passion Planner was definitely not perfectly planned.
At the beginning of 2013, while suffering from the feeling of "directionless floating" caused by post-college uncertainty, #postgradproblems I realized that I was clearly not the only person facing this feeling.
I felt like I had done everything right, graduated with honors from one of the best universities on the planet, followed my passions by changing my major from pre med to art, earned enough scholarships to graduate college without debt, but despite my accomplishments something still wasn’t right.
I felt stuck, I felt scared and I felt I had no direction. I felt incapable of just about anything and I had no idea of where wanted to go next.
I thought about how was this possible? How could the years of overachieving leave me feeling so lost? And after three months of avoiding just about everything and slipping into a dark lonely place in myself, I decided that I needed to do something. I decided to map out the drama that was replaying over and over in my head. I went to the drawing board and with pen and paper made a mind map. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
With this mind map I gained clarity and concluded that the expectations of people that I respected - my parents, my teachers, my friends - had shaped my reality of what success was. Our culture has been constructed by rewarding those who follow someone else’s expectations, meeting someone else’s deadlines, and getting paid to do work someone else has assigned to us. But not our own.
This works out fine... up until we graduate from college. But soon I realized that this sheep mentality of doing what we are told and never questioning it has left us feeling unable to define our own deadlines, our own dreams, and our own passions. Because we are haven’t exercised our decision making muscles, we feel weak and we fall. And we feel like we can not start again.
I wanted to make a place to give us the piece of mind to restart, to find direction when we felt lost, a planner where people pursue their passions not just ideally with “one day’s” or “I wishes” but in doing something everyday and holding themselves accountable. I wanted people to talk the talk and walk the walk, and I wanted to use my life to prove that the walk was possible.
After a year of going back and forth debating with myself being scared of not being able to create the perfect planner, or please everyone, I realized enough was enough. I needed to stop letting fear paralyze me and I was going to take action.
I focused on the positives and wrote down at the experiences that I had collected by teaching, making art, coaching and so much more to remind myself that I am capable. I can do this. This could work. I had all the tools, I just needed to take action. I just needed to leap.
I told myself it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be a start.
With this newfound courage I finally started again. Every day was broken down into one major goal, one major step that would move me closer to getting this thing out into the world.
One day at a time one step at a time action cured fear. I was no longer guessing about what ifs. I was no longer looking for perfection. I was no longer thinking about the things that could go wrong because I was too busy taking action to make them go right. And after two months of non-stop passion inspired hustle I had taken an idea in a sketch book and turned it into a tool that people were using to chase their passions all over the world.
This is my journey and my hopeful gift to you, in its imperfect but truly nurtured state. With the ups, downs, missions, failures and successes, I hope you enjoy, learn, laugh, cry and grow from it and make me do the same.
“A society grows great when (young and) old (wo)men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
This is my small tree.
I hope you enjoy its shade, and grow your own tree to let others sit in.