If you’re feeling inadequate use this time to reflect and as a celebration of your own personal journey. Even if someone’s life looks 100% perfect, it’s not. Here’s my story and the ways the ways that I have achieved my goals and dreams.

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In High School, Art, English and Textiles were my favourite subjects. They let me express my teen angst and I could get lost in creativity in a time that was confusing and pretty damn crap.

When it came time to elect my senior year subjects I began thinking of what I wanted to do post school. I knew I would love to do something creative, but I had no idea at the time what kind of jobs were on offer post school or post university for the areas that interested me. It’s pretty ridiculous to put that amount of pressure on a 17 year old in hindsight. The department makes it seem like you need to have your life all figured out as soon as you leave school. There isn’t nearly enough education about it being okay to not know your path straightaway.

When I finally selected my electives most of my friends were electing things to achieve a high UAI (which at the time was your Universities Admission Index was used in New South Wales, Australia). This mark was the primary criterion for entry into most undergraduate-entry University programs – to me though, I wasn’t so focused on going to Uni straight after school which was a shock to my family initially as I come from a family of academics. I ended up choosing  4 Unit English (Advanced English, extension 1 and 2), Art, Food Tech, Modern History and for a brief moment in time Legal Studies, but I dropped it after a month – I didn’t like my teacher, I was doing too many units anyway and it really didn’t live up to how Law & Order represented it. I did these subjects to achieve a high mark, but I wasn’t set on this being the only way I could achieve things I wanted to achieve.

By the time school finished I had already lived out of home for one year, but this was the first time I was experiencing the real world for what it was and it was damn scary. I moved to Queensland three days after year 12 finished and I began to feel like I had to have everything figured out that moment. I also began to feel the pressures of friends and family to study and felt I had to appease them, so I went against how I was feeling and I applied and was accepted for journalism, but I knew deep down I knew this wasn’t going to fulfill my wants or dreams. I knew I wanted to try some different things to see what I liked before I found myself elbow deep in textbooks again.

My memory is a little blurry now but I think I deferred my degree (which at the time made me feel like I was way behind in life compared to my friends). A month or two passed (I was working in retail at the time) and I realised we all have a choice to make. Life may seem tough or you may be lacking direction – we can either choose to accept our circumstances, or we can choose to make the effort to rise above them. That choice usually starts with what you believe about yourself and your dream. I finally listened to my gut and realised I didn’t want to study and started realising that, that was okay. I knew if I just got out there and did the things I wanted to do, I could achieve my dreams. That’s the great thing about life, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to what each of us want to do – everyone has their own aspirations, wants and dreams and it’s okay to go about them in your own way. I finally didn’t feel like I was way behind. I felt I had direction, even if other people couldn’t see where I was going just yet.

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To this date I still have not studied.

When people ask me now if I regret not studying or if I will ever study in the future my answers are: I definitely do not regret not studying. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision, but then I realised I could always study – there really was no limitations. I still may study – who knows, I would never say never.

I have learned so much post school and I have so many skills. I have a theory: If you really want to do something you will just get in there, get your skills up and figure it out. I have self taught a lot of things, asked industry people and learned copious amounts from JD. In the 8 years since school I have managed my own online store, grown my blog into a business, modelled, freelanced and worked alongside JD in various roles. I have worked at them because they are all things that interest me and I have wanted to do them – they were all my dreams.

I’ve never wanted to have “one” job for the rest of my life. I want to try things, fail at things, learn from things – all in all I want to follow my dreams and do things for me, not do things because society tells me I should do things a certain way. I want to forge my own path and learn from doing things instead of sitting in a class waiting. I definitely am not talking for the masses here – If you’re at Uni or have studied I commend you. Just like I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to what each of us want to do.

Without coming across like the cheesiest person in the world, I have put together a list of five things you can do to start living / achieving your dreams.

Stop being self limiting

“I CAN’T DO IT”, “I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. We’ve all got these nasty voices who are a massive pain in the arse. Imagine if we could just get rid of them? Oh, that would be incredible. Doubt, fear, and self-limiting beliefs are normal but try re-framing these thoughts because they’re not accurate, it’s just your brain not wanting you to take risks, which brings me to point #2.

Take some risks

Sometimes realising your dreams and taking some steps towards them is terrifying. It usually means a huge step backwards money wise. Trust me I have been there before. I think it is a risk you need to take though. Another reason it’s hard to work towards our dream is because we are scared to take risks and fail. The thought of failure sucks, amirite? Never let the fear of failure get into you – all you have to do is let it pass and try again. Any time something hasn’t quite worked out / I have “failed” I have used it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Stop comparing your path to others that aren’t your own

Don’t compromise who you are in order to make other people happy and don’t compare your life to other people’s. In today’s social media driven society it is so easy to compare and feel inadequate about your career path compared to those who have their career paths charted. In this time of feeling inadequate use it as a time to reflect and a celebration of your own personal journey. Even if someone’s life looks 100% perfect, it’s not. #staytruetoyourpath

Stop caring what people think of you

As soon as I stopped caring about people finding it strange I wasn’t studying and lived for myself, my direction became a lot clearer. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore and I felt determined to achieve my goals. It was quite funny (and still is at times) to explain my job to people. Accomplishing my goals was my priority, thus my attitude quickly became “fuck what people think of me”. If they don’t understand me working from home, then it doesn’t affect me.

Become self aware and discover what you really want

It’s scary to admit what you want to do and what you want from your life especially if it means sharing it with your family, friends and the world. GET REAL. BE REAL and SHARE IT. You’re having these thoughts for a reason, the next step is to act on them

I’m still constantly writing down dreams and goals. There is one in particular I hope to share with you this year – fingers crossed I keep working towards it! I know it’s hard to put into practice advice from other people, but realise that it is all worth it in the end. Step one is believing you can.

Let me know your thoughts or your dreams!

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Author: Ally Carey

Hi, I am Ally, a writer and creative at Substance. I have worked in the fashion industry for 6+ years as a model and now on Substance. Substance is a lifestyle blog about fashion, beauty, health and self-improvement; hoping to inspire you to live a life filled with Substance. For more: @AllyMayCarey

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