Something that I always felt like I was lacking throughout college was a true creative outlet. Each week, it felt like I was going through the motions, losing all of my creative habits in the process of waiting for the next big assignment. In a sense, it felt like I sacrificed part of my identity in order to excel in my classes.
Most college students can relate to this feeling. Sometimes, it’s hard to see where all of your work is going and what the end goal is. It wasn’t until my junior year when this started to become more clear.
It all changed once I actually paid attention to the emails in my inbox. I came across an email advertising the MUD Magazine internship. I read the email and considered applying, going back and forth on whether I would send an email back or not. This time, I didn’t want to be all talk, I actually wanted to pursue something that could enrich my college experience.
Looking back, my decision to apply and my acceptance into the internship was one of the best decisions I’ve made here at Sacred Heart.
Being surrounded by the most supportive, creative team made me feel like I found a group of people that just … got it. They understood and supported all of my ideas, and having this group that saw my vision as a creative individual increased my confidence to unseen levels.
I started to believe in myself and my abilities again. Just when I thought that my first article wasn’t good enough, the creator of MUD, Hector Gutiérrez, posted on his social media, “This story by Ashlin Haley for MUD gave me my peace back today.”
This was my moment where I asked myself, “Why can everyone see your potential but you?”
Maybe because I was depriving myself of things I loved, and made more time for content that didn’t excite me.
I remember telling my parents that through this experience, I felt like the fire inside of me was lit again. Writing weekly creative articles encouraged me to look inside myself and even find art in the little things in life. Making graphics and art for my articles also forced me back into my old hobbies that I loved: creating and designing.
Even through meetings with the MUD team, hearing “Oh yes, I’ve read your articles. I’m so excited to work with you,” made me feel like I was important, and that my ideas were genuinely seen. It’s easy to produce work that means something to you, but to have like-minded individuals commending your work is a feeling like none other.
My purpose in sharing my experience in MUD is to inspire those that might feel like they are losing a sense of direction and purpose. I’ve realized that once you pay more attention to things that excite you, your whole perspective changes. My worst mistake was thinking I had to sacrifice these activities in order to succeed.
Additionally, invest in a group that understands you and your work. Throughout high school, I felt like I had to go to college on the west coast in order to find that group of like-minded, creative people. Social media drills the notion within creative people that places like Los Angeles are the only locations to succeed. Even throughout my first couple of years in college, I felt like I was missing out on opportunities, and that life would be better out there.
If you look hard enough and go for opportunities that ignite something within you, you’ll find that group right where you are. Although it took some time for me to find it, I wouldn’t have changed that liberating process for anything.