In Silicon Valley start-up terms, a “pivot” is usually a polite way of saying you’ve screwed up and are starting over.

In life we don't fail. We pivot.

The last half year has been immensely defining for me as I'm navigating my way into the professional career field. I've grown so much and, through constant struggle, learned that everything I used to know was wrong.

A year ago I was still applying to architecture jobs. Working at an architecture firm wouldn't be so bad, I thought. I have the degree and experience and can build up my freelance photography career in the mean time. But I only wanted to work for the big firms. And a dozen rejections later, I crossed out Plan A. Who was I kidding? They could smell I was a fake. A fraud who never really even liked architecture. Screw it, I never really wanted to do that in the first place.

Plan B. Okay, so what I really want to do is photography. It's my life's biggest passion and I work so hard on building my portfolio. I'm just as good, if not better, than the actual photo students which means I'll have a better chance at making it as a photographer right? I feel like I'm talented and passionate. And I'll move to New York City. Isn't that the recipe to success?

Fast forward six anxiety-filled months and I'm sitting in the photo studio of renowned photographer Mark Seliger in my dream city. But there was nothing dreamy about this. My supervisor hands me a huge poster-sized package and a Metro Card. "Sophia I know there's only an hour left of work, but can you go deliver this to the Upper East Side? And you can go home after that. And tomorrow before you come in can you pick up two bottles of this shampoo. It's for Mark. I'll text you the brand he wants."

All this anticipation, hard work, moving my whole life across the country, paying New York rent, and the pressure of making something out of myself ended up with me running endless frivolous errands at an unpaid internship. But it wasn't just the internship. It was New York. It's glamorous on the surface, but inside it's cold, unwelcoming, and mean. Just about everyone I came in contact with or offered to do free work for took advantage of me, because it was the normal thing to do. I also met many people in the same boat, all struggling trying to make a career out of their artistic passions. It brought me to question what the hell I was even worth as a person and drove me to constant depression. 


I'm in the midst of my third transformation, and I'm excited about this one. I'm back in California where I found my roots again, my support system, and a sense of belonging with people who genuinely care. But I didn't know exactly where I was going with my career. 

I had to rethink everything. So I love marketing but I hate social media. I love art but I hate business. I love creativity and I hate following rules. 

I was always artistic, and used different outlets to express that creativity. But what I've never noticed is how these outlets were usually digital media of sorts. I loved the freedom of being able to create art on a computer and share it on the web. And that is visual design.

I want to be a visual designer.

I believe my biggest accomplishment in life is having the courage to pursue what I love to do, even though it's hard and nearly impossible. I think it's this struggle and constant growth that makes life meaningful. Change is important in life. Creatives constantly reinvent themselves, innovate, transform, and evolve. I'm not afraid to go down a new path, regardless of what you have to say about it.

The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage.
— Thucydides

I didn't go to art school but I'm gonna try my whole life to fake it anyway. I can teach myself, the same way I taught myself photography, graphic design, illustration, every creative skill I know. I'm still growing as a designer but I'm so excited about being in a cutting edge industry that welcomes instead of competes.