“Find that one thing you enjoy doing, get good at doing it, then make a living doing it professionally.”
How often have we heard this preached to us in one form or another? Though it sounds like solid advice, what happens when your passion and expertise lies in more than one area? When you have multiple interests, strengths, and feel drawn to excel in multiple fields?
Well, if you’re like me, this article’s for you. This article’s also for anyone convinced that pursuing multiple passions is the perfect equation for chaos.
Over the years, I’ve found it challenging having to narrow my dream career to just one —constantly finding myself gravitating towards different interests and opportunities that seem to have no clear connection to one another. Frustrated from feeling like I was doing the whole career selection thing wrong, I started seriously reflecting and asking myself important questions like, “What do I see myself doing? What makes me feel fulfilled? What do I have to offer the world?”
I haven’t figured out all the answers. However, asking these questions made me realize my frustrations were stemming from trying to live out my dreams the way society has mapped out the course. Life doesn’t often follow that route, though. It’s okay to go against the grain, to go down the road less travelled.
I’ve now managed to shift my perspective. I’m learning to truly trust and follow my heart, and the endless examples of people who’ve successfully done the same have helped make journeys like mine less rugged. An enthusiasm to pursue multiple passions shouldn’t be considered a risk, weakness, loss of focus, or misdirection. Continue asking the necessary questions and trust the process.
Here are 6 guiding steps to fall back on when you find yourself second guessing if you’re making the choice that’s right for you:
Surround yourself with positive support systems.
Living out your dreams isn’t easy. Constantly being in the company of negative people with a lack of positive supports can make this process more challenging when you’re making important life choices. It pays off to dedicate time towards identifying the people you trust will be there to support you best at whatever stage you’re at. It can be a family member, friend, teacher, pastor—you name it!
If you don’t know who or what your supports look like do your research. Find people who are pursuing careers in the same areas of your interests. Learn from their successes and their failures. Watch interviews, read articles, attend workshops, events, and conferences that’ll give you insight and connect you with the people, information, and resources that can equip, aid, and direct you.
Invest in self-care.
Self-care is vital. It’s impossible to build a secure future without looking out for you. While working towards building your dreams, it becomes easy to get caught up in caring for everything and everyone other than yourself. Demanding work schedules and a tonne of responsibilities coming from managing several pursuits can prevent you from crafting out time to take care of you.
What self-care looks like varies from person to person. Whether you choose to do it big or keep it simple, investing in you goes a long way. Remember, abandon any idea in your mind that says self-care is egotistical.
Silence the voices of naysayers.
When you’re trying to gain focus and work towards a dream or goal, people seem to voluntarily show up in your life and go out of their way to offer “friendly” advice, share their experiences, or “direct” you…
“Actually, teaching doesn’t seem like a field that you’ll grow in, you’d make a great realtor, though!”
…Thanks, but no thanks!
Too many negative and biased opinions can stop you from attending to your main focus—which is doing what you feel called to do. Whether or not the intention behind someone else’s input or advice is good or bad, one thing to be cautious of is how much influence you allow naysayers to have in shaping your choices, decisions, and actions. Seeking advice from anyone who wants to chime in is a big NO, NO, because not everyone has your best interest in mind. Even the ones who do won’t know entirely what’s ultimately best for you.
Get organized and prioritize.
Knowing where to place your time is crucial. You definitely need to be prepared to multitask, which requires you getting organized. Knowing what’s priority on your to-do list will save you from additional stress. There are a lot of great free apps and resources that’ll help you get the job done if you use them effectively.
Life happens, but planning ahead will make a difference that gives you a strategic advantage in the long run.
Trust your heart
This is another simple yet very essential step. Many of us know ourselves enough to know when our heart is leading us to act or not act on a thought, belief, or emotion. Our minds can get us into the habit of doubting, trying to make logical decisions to come up with solutions, and understand everything. It’s not always easy to remind ourselves to trust our hearts.
Just do it!
Most of us are familiar with the ever so popular Nike slogan, “Just do it.” The act of just doing sounds simple—however, the process isn’t quite so, if you know what I mean. Things like doubt, uncertainty, and fear can get in the way of progress. There’ll be times when you don’t feel ready, but it’s just a matter of following through with the first step and moving forward from there.
There’s no solid blueprint or error-proof formula that I can share to get you from point A to point B, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not know, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way, as long as you don’t allow the fear of moving forward to stop you from reaching your goals.
In a realm like fashion that is not only demanding, but highly competitive, the path to a successful career isn’t an easy feat for a young model trying to establish a distinct brand alongside thousands of professionals striving for similar milestones. However, for 2017 SuperModel Canada winner Nini Amerlise, the captivating story of her steady rise in fashion is one of higher purpose and triumph.
Since beginning her career in 2014, the internationally-featured, award-winning model has confidently slayed an impressive list of runways including New York Fashion Week, Toronto Fashion Week, and African Fashion Week Toronto. She has graced the pages of popular publications like Vogue and is working endlessly to promote a message of faith, positivity, self-love, and empowerment amongst millennials.
Redefining Her Passion and Finding Her Purpose
Throughout childhood, Nini was often bullied and endured years wrestling with extremely low self-esteem and depression. The emotional and mental scarring caused by ongoing verbal abuse and mistreatment by her childhood peers spanned as far as racist slurs and death wishes. In 2014, however, her life took a transformative turn. Nini responded to a casting call and auditioned to model and become the “Face of African Fashion Week Toronto”, all the while battling with damaging thoughts, painful experiences, and numerous insecurities. Despite questioning if she had what it took to stand apart from the other competing models, Nini stepped out in faith and walked into her newfound passion and calling.
I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Nini, who is now using her story to influence the younger generation and impact the fashion industry. Continue reading below to find out how this purpose-driven model has managed to build a strong brand, while connecting with millennials along her journey.
What led you to get into the fashion industry?
After auditioning for African Fashion Week Toronto in 2014, it sparked a desire for me to learn more about the industry and how to become a professional model. I’ve always been a creative person, and because fashion is a creative-based industry, it fuelled that desire for me to express myself through this platform. It led me to understand myself. That understanding developed into self-love and appreciation—something that I didn’t feel before this experience. I once felt unloved and unappreciated by the world due to the harsh experience of being bullied.
With fashion being such a competitive industry, what are some of the challenges you have when it comes to gaining exposure and setting yourself apart from other models?
In most fashion shows and casting calls, they particularly choose one token black model. This makes black models who attend castings feel threatened by one another. There are also challenges that I have when hairstylists for shows and photo shoots are working with my natural hair. Despite that, I don’t view modeling as though it’s a competition. If one door closes, I can go through another. There are opportunities for everyone.
How have you carved out your personal brand?
My afro has set me apart—it expresses my personality and gives me that unique look. The more I became confident in my skin and truly understood what it meant to be fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator, the more I found my brand identity. I am a reflection of God’s love and this love is reflected through my brand. Through it, I’ve been able to influence millennials and connect with them on a deeper level.
As a young rising supermodel, has expressing your faith and weaving it into your brand identity been challenging?
I get pressured to not share my true love for God. I used to be afraid of how others in the industry would respond to this. I find that many people place judgments on God without knowing Him. I honestly don’t focus on religiosity. For me, it’s all about relationship—this perspective is what has allowed me to speak openly about my faith, which is founded on love.
You have also managed to build many authentic relationships through your unique brand. How have you managed to strengthen these connections throughout your career?
I try to bring a sense of humility to fashion. Many view fashion and entertainment as elite industries. We often put celebrities on high platforms. So, I try to make a welcoming connection with my audience. I do my best to reply to comments on social media and show that I am approachable and not above my followers in any way. I believe that’s how God intends for it to be. In this industry relationships are extremely important! Every time I do a casting, I try to make a close connection with everyone who’s involved, including the designer. Since interactions at castings are so brief, when I get the opportunity to, I make an effort to learn more about the designer I’m working with and understand what the inspirations are behind their collection. The industry is so diverse, and I’m always happy to constantly be learning.
According to you, what are 3 steps to nurturing a successful brand?
One, identify what the purpose is behind your brand. Two, once you’ve done that, put your vision into momentum in order to see it become a reality. Three, once that vision-driven momentum is fuelled, stay consistent until things come into fruition. Consistency is key. Never give up!
Nini Amerlise did an interview for the GT Network sharing her journey and the obstacles she faced growing up being bullied. Through these challenges she was able to rise up and provide advice and inspire women everywhere to love their bodies, continue to fight past the negativity and embrace the skin they are in. Beauty comes from within and is not judged according to how other people see you, because your soul sparks so much light into this world and you deserve to shine.