A Sense of Purpose

Just two years ago I was in a place in my life where things were uncertain and the future was unforeseen.  I had just graduated from college where I spent 5 years studying for a degree I had no interest in and pursuing a career that was never my dream but more so my parents.  It’s strange being placed in that position, even thinking about it today sends an uneasy feeling to the pit of my stomach — I was lost to say the least and in many ways a lot of things seemed hopeless.

I felt like a failure — not only had I disappointed my parents but I disappointed myself.  I should have realized my unhappiness from the beginning and put a stop to it, spoken up to my parents when there was still a chance.  Now here I was: a college graduate, unemployed, uninspired and without a single clue as to what I should pursue.

Limbo is  a scary place to be in.  A million questions pop into your head “What will ever become of you?” “Where are you going to even be 10 years from now?” “What if the only thing you ever become is an EPIC failure?” It was depressing, really.  So much of me wanted to give, I wanted to make a positive difference in this world — I just didn’t know how or what it was going to be.

But the funny thing is, sometimes the answer literally is right in front of you.  Sometimes you just have to place all extraneous thoughts aside and study the facts that are there.  Collin was my saving grace.

“Why don’t you pursue cooking or something food related, you love that stuff?”  He asked one day over dinner.  I looked at him and laughed “Collin, that’s crazy.”

He seemed very perplexed by my comment… “Why?”

I paused and thought for a long time and couldn’t come up with a logical response “…I don’t know why.  I just…I just don’t think my parents would be up for it.”

“But this is your life, not your parents.”

I looked at him dumbfounded.  Who the hell am I dating here, Confucius?  And why the hell didn’t I realize this sooner?  This is MY life.  Why am I going after something I have absolutely no interest in for the sake of my parents’ happiness?  If I found my sense of purpose in this life and worked to the best of my ability, what could go wrong?

The solution just seemed way to simple, life is more complicated than that…right?

But it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.  Though I am still at the tender age of 25, I realize there are basic necessities in life, the most important being your own personal happiness.  Without it, life can turn quite sour, posing challenging obstacles that ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and negativity.

Since finding what I believe to be my purpose in life has in many ways set me free.  I no longer experience guilt or anger, I seldom feel sad or hopeless, and all of those worries that once jumbled my head with immense stress and anxiety have now dissipated.  I feel as if my spirit has been restored and day by day I feel myself grow, not only as an artist or writer, but as a person who only hopes to bring more positive energy into this world.  Whether it through a picture or a paragraph or perhaps even a meal or a gift — I strive to bring a sense of happiness to as many people that will allow me the benefit.

Today the sun seems to shine more brightly than ever, the trees seem to be singing me a song, the wind blows through my hair as if it wants to play and I am smiling.  I am smiling with my heart wide open, I am smiling because I’ve never felt better, I am smiling because I’ve found this wonderful place and I am dedicated and determined to never leave this feeling.  To wake up with a sense of purpose, alas, it really feels great.


The pictures throughout the post were taken at my friend Jenni’s new (beautiful!!) home along with her puppy dachshund, Brooklyn :).

I also had a fun cooking date yesterday with Natalie from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine and we attempted to make French Macarons.  After having a 100% failure rate (for the both of us) with these picky little cookies in the past, we finally had a success batch (of 5) but they were DELICIOUS and as you can see, awesome :).

We used the macaron recipe from Tartelette but did strawberry macarons with a peanut butter filling!  Thank you Natalie for being my newfound cooking buddy in Dallas, I had a wonderful time.

And also! For those of you curious about the wedding shoot I did in Nashville, you can find the 1st half of the collection here.  Here are some of my favorite shots thus far…

Happy Friday!

37 responses to “A Sense of Purpose

  1. Joy thanks for sharing I am sure this post will help someone out there who is in the same place your were 2 years ago. Thank you for making this world a better place. Your photography style is really come along beautifully!

  2. Hopefully you will find what you’re looking for…soon. Life is just too short! Just go for it, girl… with no regret. Btw, that wedding ring…. is killing me! I’m so envy! hahaha…. Have to ask my hubby to look at this. haha….. Wishing you all the best.

    • Kristy you’re the best hahaha you never fail me to make me smile, it’s wonderful! You are right, life is too short to pursue things that make you unhappy — I am glad I found my niche 🙂

  3. Wow, I completely related to this post in more ways than you think! I’ve been struggling with “finding” myself out my whole college career, when Andy, my fiance, just told me to do what makes me happy… and that’s cooking. So that’s exactly why I’m applying to culinary school after I graduate next year. I figure, I’ll make my parents happy by having a degree (after all these years) and I’ll do what I love in the long run. And by the way… I love the wedding shots you did! Wish you lived closer to Louisville because we’ll be needing a wedding photographer sooner or later! =)

    • Peggy — first, thank you so much for sharing your story with me second, your fiance is seriously a very very awesome man and lastly — I can’t put into words how happy I am for you that you are taking the reigns and pursuing what ultimately makes you happy at the end of the day. I think that was the hardest transition for me, I worried so much about what my parents were going to think that I forgot about myself. I wish you all the luck and happiness in your culinary adventure, I think you’re going to do GREAT.

      Thanks for the kind words — I would’ve loved to shoot you and Andy’s wedding!!! Have you guys set a date yet?

      • no official date set yet, I think we’re going to wait until Andy is out of school, so in about a year or so we’re going to start seriously planning! Definitely keep ya posted!

  4. I love you.

  5. This is such a sweet post! I’m glad you ended up pursuing your passion. And the wedding pictures are lovely 🙂
    PS: I am in Dallas and sadly, I have no foodie friends! We should definitely do happy hour soon 🙂

    • Azmina — Thanks so much for the kind words! I am glad I am going after my passion too, it’s much more entertaining than studying organic chemistry and neurobiology that’s fa sho. I can’t wait to finally meet you one of these days — hopefully we can do another happy hour soon 🙂

  6. Wow, thanks for sharing something that is very personal. Glad that you have someone that can encourage you to do something you enjoy! Great wedding pics by the way!

  7. Look at them smiling back at us! I am so pumped. We can do this! I bet on a sunny day (on the bottom rack, right?) our macarons will be PERFECT!

  8. God Bless you, Joy!

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us! Very wise words for someone so young! Sometimes it takes people a lifetime to find their inner happiness, but if we look inward and follow our own voice everything else is easy! Your words were beautiful! I am a fellow texan living in Fort Worth nice to meet you.

  10. So happy to hear you have found your sense of purpose, Joy! Your spirit really shines through. xo.

  11. joy,
    im touched by your words… how awesome are your pictures… and your cooking is fab… it would be sad to see you do other things aside from those things.

    follow your heart… it will lead you to where you’re supposed to be.
    good luck and god bless!

    • Malou

      Thank you for your words of comfort! Your encouragement really helps me solidify my decision to pursue what I love — I have days where I question myself “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? WHAT IF YOU DON’T SUCCEED??” but then words like yours make those pestering thoughts go away. So thanks for that 🙂

  12. Congrats on pursuing your dream! It takes courage. Dream on….

  13. I’ve been thinking about making a change in the last couple of years. First step has been made yesterday. Baby step. It is important to follow the heart and passion

    • Penny I am so happy to hear that, you are honestly so talented with your words and your pictures. I think big changes always happen in small steps — my personal journey definitely didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of building up the courage, lots of tears and confusion but alas reaching that final push of going for what you believe is your calling, it really feels great. I hope you find your inner peace and happiness — sending positive thoughts your way!

  14. Joy ~
    Thank you for sharing!!! I am loving your photography – I thought your facebook pics were links to other websites! I am sooo happy to see you doing what you love; it gives me hope for myself 🙂 Same place you were in…

    btw, your styling is RAD! I would love to come photograph/cook with you sometime!

    • Isabel — thank you so much for that! If you are ever in Dallas please feel free to hit me up, you are MORE than welcome to photograph/cook with me anytime! You are capable of doing anything you ever dream about doing — hope your spiritual journey leads you to your niche 🙂

  15. So happy for you, Joy…

  16. Such a moving post, Joy! I’m glad you have a good man to support you and encourage you!

    I am in limbo right now, because I moved to a new place, a small university town because my husband is studying here and jobs in my field are scare. I also turned to cooking!

    Love your macaroons! I’m sure I wouldn’t even have 5 to show, my baking isn’t thatttt great. hehe.

    • Nadia — thank you for sharing your story with me! I am indeed very lucky to have such a great partner, I can’t possibly imagine where my life would be right now if it weren’t for his encouragement. Please do not worry about being in limbo, that’s where I was two years ago. I couldn’t find a job for the life of me and I thought I’d have one set up right out of college. You get a real big reality check upon graduating because frankly, life isn’t as kind as we’d like it to be. We are given challenges to help us grow, so I think this is your opportunity 🙂 You make wonderful dishes, take drool-worthy pictures — I am sure you can turn those talents into something beautiful. Best of luck to you sweet Nadia, I know you will go far!

  17. What a lovely post…Congratulations on finding your true light:)

  18. Great pics. I completely understand how you feel. Unfortunately, I am still in the field but I find an escape in cooking and baking. It is great you were able to find your way. Great job.

    • Thanks for that Joy 🙂 I am glad we are able to relate to each other, I hope you will find happiness in whichever passion you choose! And thank you for your words of support

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