It was dark, warm and humid. Guarded with a small flashlight, I had been climbing the wooden, improvised stairs made out of sticks and tree trunks, on the dusty path through the jungle for almost 20 minutes now. I hoped I was making enough noise to scare the snakes and other jungle animals away. The sound of our footsteps slowly faded away, as the beat of the music grew stronger, meaning I must have almost reached the top of the hill.
On an open space in the middle of the jungle, on the small Cambodian island Koh Rong Samloem, they had created a bar. It was the first and only bar on the island. Tonight was the opening party. The theme was glow, which was made apparent by the fluorescent colours lighting up in the black light. Laser beams moved around, lighting up parts of the endless dark mass of trees that surrounded the party spot.
While the night progressed, I found myself a bowl of glowing face paint, and started making creations with it on the people around me. People started to approach me to ask if I wanted to paint them, after they saw the creations I made on their friend’s body. Within a short amount of time, I became ‘the girl who paints’.
It fitted me like a glove.
Although I might have been the only sober person at the party, I did not at any point feel like I wasn’t part of the fun. Although I liked dancing and having a chat (although the latter was pretty much impossible with the loud music), I felt most happy by simply doodling on people’s arms, foreheads and feet. I had found a way of interacting with people that was very core to who I am.
This was my way of partying.
I hadn’t felt this much in my element for some time, while being away. It was a warm feeling I recognised from whenever I’m making art, like everything just falls into place. Here I was, on the other side of the world, making art at some random party. That sounded an awfully lot like something I used to do back home (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). If something is a huge part of who you are and what you love, it will follow you around wherever you go.
What’s the thing you get back to, time and time again?
What does the little voice in your heart tell you to do?
When you aren’t completely sure yet what you want to do and what makes you happy, it can be hard to recognise this voice. That’s because the voice becomes stronger with experience. If you are not doing things that make you happy, it’s harder to recognise the voice when you come across something that lights you up. That’s why you need to expose yourself to a lot of different experiences that you imagine would be fun. Some are. Some aren’t.
I once asked a local entrepreneur with a successful business and a strong passion and vision for what he was doing how he knew what he wanted to do. His advice stuck with me. He told me to
try a lot of different things and write down every single thing that makes you feel excited. After a while you start to see a pattern.
Create a notebook with the single purpose of recording the things that interest you. When you made a bike ride through a new part of town just for fun and it felt awesome, write it down. When you visited an exhibition you loved, write it down. When you volunteered at a soup kitchen and felt touched, write it down. Also try to verbalize why the experience spoke to you. For example for these 3 that could be: the feeling of exploring, the exhibition made you want to take up video editing and reminds you you want to tell stories, you want to make other people feel noticed. You could have multiple reasons for one experience.
By doing this, you start to understand better what resonates with you and why.
And then, even when you find yourself an awful long way from home, you will know how to bend a random situation in such a way to make it work for you. You will start to learn what you are passionate about. You will recognise the little voice that tells you to create more of the things in your everyday life that make you feel happy and excited.
Have you been listening to the small voice that directs you to a life of passion? What does it tell you?
Pictures by the beautiful and talented Laura, who was my awesome painting companion for the evening.