I grew up in an very average school system, one that is the product of the ever diminishing funding for programs like art. I excelled at math and sciences and felt, heading into college, that meant I was supposed to major in something related to those fields.
It was during this time my long lived struggle with mental health reached a head, and I faced a turning point in my life. I discovered art, in every sense of the phrase. Art became the way I worked though my thoughts and the more I created, the deeper I felt connected to the workings of my own mind. I abandoned the honors engineering program awaiting me and decided to dive head first into something I was inexperienced with, whatever the cost.
I was fascinated with language, and devoted myself to calligraphy. I would steal phone-books from the enormous hallway pile in the apartment building I lived in and practice singular straight lines repeatedly. There is so much nuance to communication, and I was determined to master this aspect of it - the style something is written in and the way it is presented can affect the meaning just as much as what the letters mean collectively.
I found something I wanted to do wholly for me. For a while, I was tentative to refer to myself as an artist. I said things like "I'm just some kid making stuff". I didn't have an audience in mind, my work was and is a way for me to converse with myself. An internal dialogue in pursuit of something fundamental. I now realize that this mentality is the foundation of my legitimacy as an artist. I create with intention, authenticity, and feverish devotion to my craft.
To paraphrase one of the biggest influences on my developing identity as an artist:
I know I'm an artist because I wouldn't be happy doing anything else.