I’ve never been much of the sporty type, but if you consider rearranging your bedroom at 3 a.m. a sport, then I was an Olympian. Training took place nearly every three months, or whenever I got bored of my room and needed a change. It consisted of shoving my bed up against the wall, dragging my nightstand along, and cutting up my mom’s lifestyle magazines to freshen up my bulletin board with things that inspired me.
If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, up until I actually started school, I would usually say an artist. To me, at age 4 or 5, that might’ve meant turning egg cartons into funny-looking cardboard caterpillars or finger painting for a living. I never really thought about how my dream of becoming “an artist” would actually manifest itself. But what does being an artist actually look like? Do you have to make money from your creations to earn that title, or can anyone who brushes paint on a canvas call themselves one? At the time, it didn’t matter.
But let’s be real, when a kid says they want to be an artist, it’s cute and fun, but when a college student does, it’s unrealistic, worrisome, and potential-gone-wasted-inducing. So, whether from exposure or external expectations, I began to shift my mindset of what my aspiring occupation should be. Luckily my parents were supportive of nearly any career path I wanted to pursue as long as, “you’re the best at what you do.” But I couldn’t be the best artist, right? Guys like Picasso and Van Gogh already took those titles.
Luckily my parents were supportive of nearly any career path I wanted to pursue as long as, “you’re the best at what you do.” But I couldn’t be the best artist, right? Guys like Picasso and Van Gogh already took those titles.
Classmates throughout middle and high school were already setting their minds on becoming doctors and engineers. What was my thing? Ideas started to fall into place when I enrolled in the only elective that fit into my already heavy high-school schedule—Journalism. During those next four years of high school, I worked my way up from staff writer, to advertisement manager and finally to editor for our school newspaper. I competed in journalism competitions and spent my summers in writing workshops. Soon enough, I set my sights on USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
My time in undergraduate classes was filled with tons of networking events, plenty of writing assignments (as one might guess), and a lot of deadlines. My four-year plan was to graduate and land a job in the empty seat of a news anchor desk. I spent the majority of my time in the media center, hosting daily radio shows, editing weekly podcasts, and building connections so I could complete that four-year plan. But as my assignments were piling higher and higher, I found that I had less and less time to be creative.
Now don't get me wrong, my time in college was great, fulfilling and worthwhile. I wouldn't change my path. In fact, for what felt like the first time in my life, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be—doing what I was called to do. Reporting on local news, conducting interviews with strangers and transforming their thoughts into accessible and sometimes life-changing stories felt like my calling. And maybe missing that very feeling is what inspired me to start this blog. To this day, writing is the one thing that gives me that excited stomach-rush feeling and I haven't found anything else like it since.
For what felt like the first time in my life, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be—doing what I was called to do.
With nearly 8 more months before graduation though, coupled with a pandemic, I finally unlocked the understanding that storytelling can come in many forms—I could be an artist and a storyteller all in one. So I blended the two and came up with Halaballoo—something that felt authentically me. And if that ever changes, I've come to the acceptance that choosing one career path over another doesn't need to mean that the other passion should be buried or tossed out. I've paved a deep enough passion for myself within the world of Journalism, that I know if I were to ever turn back, it'll be there waiting for me and I'd be ready to take it head on.
My future, as is anyone else’s, is still uncertain. I’m fully aware that my passions and future pathways will warp and twist and turn into something I may not be able to imagine today. And who knows, maybe I will turn back to news reporting and radio shows one day (I really still do love it). But for now, I’m on a continued journey to fill my creative cup in a different way—through my small business, Halaballoo. So thanks for tagging along for the ride! Let’s see where it’ll take us.
Written by Hala Khalifeh
Have any thoughts? Want to share your take on this? I'd love to hear it! Comment below to share.