my story [so far]



I grew up in a traditional Filipino family. In the Filipino culture, the ultimate definition of success is going through school, achieving high marks, graduating, getting into a good college, obtaining a doctorate degree of some sort and becoming some form of a doctor (surgeon, pediatrician, physical therapist, nurse, etc). I can't tell you how many times an uncle or my parents looked at me over dinner or at a family get together, nudged me in the arm and said, "You know, if you become a doctor you'll make good money". So when it came time to go to college, I pursued a degree in psychology with plans to become a psychiatrist. It was engrained in me that I was doing the right thing to prepare myself for life ahead.

It wasn't until my senior year of college that I began to get the feeling that I had chosen the easy route. Let me explain: college itself is by no means easy. I definitely struggled through staying focused enough to study and write research papers. I found myself saying "I just DON'T CARE about this!!" multiple times. But I made the grades, and I graduated (Summa Cum Laude to be exact). But signing up for a 4 year program to earn my bachelor's degree allowed me the luxury to not think about the bigger picture. All I knew was that I had spent a lot of money to be there, so I had to finish and get my degree. I'd surely find a job in the field I wanted when I graduated and I'd be set. Work till I see retirement.

Another disclaimer - I'm not knocking those who DO follow this path. In fact, I applaud you for it. You probably are a lot clearer minded than I am and are so much better at keeping your focus.

In my senior year I began to feel "the void". The void is feeling incomplete, no matter how much you are doing or involved in. It feels like a hamster spinning its wheel going no where, a dull routine, a means with no real end. I felt that my entire last year of college. I think deep down I knew I wasn't giving my all to pursuing a career in psychiatry, but I didn't want to face the fact that I had already put all my eggs in this basket, so to speak. The last 4 years of my life had been dedicated to building this dream, so what else could I possibly end up doing?

So I graduated, told myself I'd give myself a year long break before applying for grad school. Took up a job as a waitress to make some money. A year turned into 2, then into 3. I had a lot of fun just being a young adult, making money and not feeling the pressure of a midterm exam looming around the corner. I started getting questions from my parents.
"When are you planning on going back to school?"
"What school are you thinking about for your doctorate's?"

When I moved to North Carolina, I moved with the intention of going to UNC. They are tied for the second school in the nation (with UCLA) for their clinical psychology program, at least at the time. When I started studying for the GRE, it was the first time I had ever felt like I was not good enough in the academic setting. I'm sure my time away from school played a major role in it. So I found myself a tutor. I did all of the online practice tests. I printed out pages of practice problems. I studied for months. And I took the GRE. I sent in my application. I was ready to continue the academic trajectory.

Then I got the rejection letter.

I felt so defeated. I had no idea what my next move was going to be. Apply again next year? Apply for another school? I saw no point. Through all those months of studying, I also knew deep down - though I didn't want to admit it - my heart just was not into it.

I also started playing around in the makeup artistry world right around the time I moved to NC. I would go through the beauty aisle the first few months when I was out of work and come home and experiment with makeup. I had been practicing different looks when I was still cocktail waitressing back in Richmond, VA. My friends had always asked me to teach them how to do their makeup and ask me to do their makeup before their shift started. I never saw myself as a makeup artist though, and quite frankly I hate seeing old photos of how I used to do my face up haha!

One day during my break from work (I was working as an occupational specialist at the time, i.e. social work), I had this overwhelming feeling that I had to change something. I knew I was unhappy with the work I was doing, I was growing tired of working in restaurants to make ends meet, and I was just unsatisfied. I felt like I had nothing to look forward to, nothing to work towards, and I had accepted that going back to school was just not enough to pique my interest for another 4+ years. 

I made a Facebook business page for my makeup work, and uploaded a few photos of the best makeup looks I had done on myself. I put myself out there and posted in a group about wanting to do makeup for shoots. I wrote down a list of photographers and models I wanted to work with. I networked. I worked with more and more people, got my name out there, and learned everything I could.

I'm not saying I have everything together. It's been two years since I started delving into the world of makeup artistry, one since I've decided to pursue it full on. I've got so much to learn and I'm so excited to see where this new journey takes me. Maybe one day I'll go back and get that coveted PhD my family talked up so much. What I do know is that every shoot that I do does not feel like work. I can feel myself livening up when I talk about makeup. I love to learn everything about makeup that I can. I'm not afraid to push myself to try something new. My mindset has changed so much since pursuing makeup artistry. I'm addicted to the feeling of being my own boss. I study makeup day in and day out. I love learning about the ins and outs of marketing and branding myself and my work. I can be myself on set. My true personality comes out when I'm working and meeting other people. Most importantly, I feel like my actions are finally in tune with my heart and my passion. I'm no longer going after something that I've been taught will bring me happiness and success. I am going after my craziest dream and the journey alone has brought me so much happiness. Everyone says they want a job that doesn't make them feel like they're working. But rarely do people want to take the chance to make it happen. Until you decide that the possibility of doing what you love everyday outweighs the risk of failure - will you truly find success. 

xoxo War Paint


Meliza Generoso