Everyone Has A Gift

Everyone Has A Gift

I used to always be that person that complained about having no talent “I wish I could sing, I wish I could dance, I wish I could draw.” What I failed to realize for many years is that if I have a voice, I could sing, if I have a body I could move, and if I wanted to express myself, I could make art. Unfortunately, like most lessons, I learned that the hard way. In 2015 one of my best friends, Johnny, committed suicide and my world turned upside down. During this time I moved to a new state and transferred schools to The University of Connecticut, miles away from all of my friends that could share my pain. The world didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t bear to sit in general courses anymore discussing concepts I didn’t care about with a bunch of strangers that I didn’t care about. I became angry and depressed and stopped going to class. My mind was on one thing, and one thing only, Johnny. I began to make small graphics in his memory to share with my friends, and on social media for others to share, as he was a very loved individual. I started to get compliments on my compositions and felt inspired to keep going. It was no longer just about Johnny, at that point anything I felt, I created.

During this lost time, I had to remember that I was still on earth, and every day was accounted for. My disconnect with school brought me to realize I was not studying anything I cared about, which made the world meaningless. A coworker of mine who also went to UConn saw some of my work and recommended I look into his program, Digital Media and Design (DMD). That very week I got to meet with the Director of the program. I shared with him the tragedy that lead me to where I was, and the new found love I had for designing. He agreed to give me one DMD course next semester to try it out before allowing me into the program and that was where it all started.

The following semester I took his Digital Foundations course, and for the first time in a long time, everything seemed important, the world was important, I was important, and the role I play in this world was important. By the end of the semester, my professor, the director of DMD (who turned into my advisor and mentor for the following 3 years) was so impressed by my work ethic and passion, he granted me with a Fine Arts Talent scholarship and admission to the DMD program. In a span of one semester, my life turned back around, not even in the direction it was before Johnny’s passing, but in the direction it was meant to be in. I was learning the very same art I once criticized myself for not having, when in reality what I was lacking was self-belief. I went from academic probation (a result of abandoning my classes) to a scholarship and Dean’s List recipient.

What I love about creating content is the ability to explore emotion. To identify a tone or message and transmit that through your work, and onto another person. Naturally I am a very emotional person, some may say it is the Pisces in me but by understanding myself I have been able to discover my passion and the power it has to impact others. Currently, I work at Apple leading workshops that inspire others to channel their creativity in ways they never thought they could through music, art, coding, photography, video, and health. What you will find is that there is a lot of overlap in the things we enjoy and care about. My passion for designing has allowed me to contribute content throughout social media about topics I care about. My love for fitness inspired @loveabovethebar where my partner and I produce content that inspires and motivates others to get up and work on themselves. I also work as a content creator for @thegirlsroomnyc, a women’s hub that encourages women empowerment and collaboration. Through design, I’ve been able to reach thousands of people in ways I never could imagine, which is something truly powerful and fulfilling.

I believe everyone has a gift, a power that is bigger than themselves, but we are often distracted by things that don’t allow us to see it.

Sometimes it takes tragedy to see it, and I hope it doesn’t for you, but you can start off by listening to yourself. Understanding what you want to contribute to the world, will lead you to how you can contribute. As long as you are living, the world is yours, and once you find what you are passionate about you gain control of your life in a new way.

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Juliana Velez

Connect with Juliana!

LinkedIn: Juliana Velez

Instagram: @goooglesays & @loveabovethebar

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