TAKING OFF TIME FROM SCHOOL TO PURSUE WHAT YOU LOVE
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE OVERLY OPTIMISTIC
I would guess that less that 1% of the population does what they love while also making a substantial living from it. Its the sad truth. Very few people can say that they love their 9-5 behind-a-desk job and wouldn’t want to do anything else. Its a difficult situation because at the end of the day, and there are 240324 other things you’d rather be doing with your life, but at the same time you need to pay your rent. The struggle….well, its way too real. So, at what point in your life do you think its okay to take that risk and pursue what you love? Its a leap of faith to say the least, but a leap I was willing to take. Here’s my story.
I started my college career as a business major for the soul reason of not knowing what the f*ck else to do. When in doubt, study business right? Either way, freshman year is supposed to be filled with cheap beer and bad decisions so you’re supposed to have way too much time on your hands. I decided at the end of my freshman year I wanted to switch over to biology. My dad is a doctor so I figured, “Hey, why not follow in his footsteps?” Or maybe it was the one too many Grey’s Anatomy episodes- who knows. It was time consuming to say the least, but I enjoyed it. Or at least that’s what you’re supposed to convince yourself of. I had a feeling that every single person in the library at 4 A.M studying Organic Chemistry was thinking the same thing: “F*ck this S*it. Im becoming a stripper. This is the most useless sh*t ever. I’m done”. Yet we all smile at each other because we’re all technically competing for jobs. Its a weekly cycle.
I was laying in my bed one day with my roommate while asking her which picture I should put up on Instagram (meaning which do you think would get more likes) to which she responded, “stop posting food you look like a fatass”. It was then that I decided to create a separate Instagram for food to which she responded “Now you look like an even bigger fatass”..and thats where it started. I went through 500 names before I picked The Naughty Fork. It was first OppsIAteItAgain (Love you Britney) and then it was the McDiet. I didn’t love either and I knew i’d come across the perfect name, and I finally did. Tackling school work and the Instagram was difficult so I would repost a lot of pictures. I think thats why I didn’t totally love the Instagram to start with- it wasn’t a reflection of me. At the same time, it was also just an Instagram, what could really come from it?
It was the summer before my senior year that I began getting emails from PR companies representing restaurants who wanted me to come in. The first meal was the most awkward experience. I walked in pretending like I had done this 50 times before and started ordering food, to which they said that it was a prefix meal for us….Uh, okay. At the end of the meal, they never brought the check. I sat there for 30 minutes before the lady came over and said I could leave. Clearly my first rodeo. As the restaurants started piling up, it became a daily thing. I met media, food blogs, pr people, ect. and totally joined a community I didn’t even know existed. After that, I began posting original content on the Instagram. I realized that this could potentially be a job for me. It only grew from there.
I was then faced with a decision: Do I go back to school at Florida State (in Tallahassee) or take the semester off and continue my work in Miami. Im a pretty good student. I’ve always held a 3.6+ GPA and have never really slacked, so taking off time was a scary thing. A few weeks before school started I got a call that I was featured in Cosmopolitan. Emails started pouring in from restaurants all over the country. Although, that wasn’t the call that changed everything. It was a call from my dad, who mind you graduated top 1% in med school, and he told me that he wanted me to talk the semester off. I was like…WHAT?! He wanted me to pursue this. His support was all I needed.
With the few supportive people, you get 2x as many pessimistic people. The “You’re taking off school to pursue an Instagram page?” people. Many hate on Instagram “fame” because they believe its a false reality. While some pretend to be who they are not, you cant fake the beauty of a cheeseburger. At the end of the day, anything and everything is connected on social media these days. Advertisement is no longer on newspapers or magazines. Believe it or not, I don’t even think having a billboard on the side of the road is good advertisement. Chances are, they’re driving past it while looking down at their phone and scrolling through Instagram. You can pay 3 million a year for a Times Square advertisement but people are just taking selfies there to throw up on Instagram or Facebook. Sorry, its true. Knock it all you want, but Instagram is a window to 400 million people.
So in essence, I ended up taking the time off. It was weird at first, not having homework or classes. But my time was filled with restaurant invitations, festivals, traveling, and connecting with some of the most influential companies in the industry. I am a firm believer in pursuing what you love. It has made me the happiest form of myself I could possibly be. I had a plan, and despite any negativity I followed it. Now i’m doing this as a profession and loving every second of it. Take a long look at your life and think, “Do I want to sit at this desk until I’m 50?” Its a leap of faith, but it could be the best leap you ever take.