Don’t Do It For Anyone Else – Self Help

Today is my last day working for a company that I should have left a year ago.  The stars had to align, I had to find the best next step for me.  Basically, I had to run to something and not run away from something.  I think that I have found it and just like with most major changes, it happens so slowly it is almost undetectable, but with a blink of an eye, it was the new reality.  If I could give advice to my coworkers today, it would be to apply and interview everywhere, know your worth, make sure your obligation is to yourself first.  A long time ago, I got some advice from a coworker on her last day at that very large .com retailer I used to work for, she said “Don’t ever love a company because it is incapable of loving you back.”  It seemed harsh at the time, seeing I was still there and she was leaving.  Over the years, I have understood more of what she was saying:  Keep your priorities in check, Your obligation is to yourself first, Do not lose sight of who you are. It is true, we all fall into it to some extent, but unless the company is your creation, do not let it become your identity.  Hopefully, your company finds value in you and is active in creating a path that allows you to grow along with it and you are recognized for your efforts and participation in it’s success.  The successful company part of you is great, but it is not your identity.  Keep something for yourself.  Do something that is you and only you, that you enjoy.  Don’t do it for anyone else.

There is so much I could and want to say about Keith Haring, he is a personal inspiration and style icon.  I think of this advice quite a bit and is a lot to do with how I structured waldina.com.  I wanted to chronicle what inspired me, good and bad, but mostly good.  I didn’t think too much about what it would mean to anyone else, I figured it would be somewhat interesting from time to time and maybe every now and then, someone would find something they could use in their life.  But I knew I would only think it was good if I only did it for myself.

It’s incredible to think that Keith Haring was only alive for 31 years, given the impact of his work. In New York particularly, his public pop-art greeted many thousands of people every day, and internationally is highly regarded and recognized as a major art influence. He also left behind a valuable legacy that includes, alongside his artwork, the Keith Haring Foundation; launched in 1989 “to assist AIDS-related and children’s charities”, said disease being the cause of his death just a year later.

Below: a brief letter of advice he wrote to an aspiring artist and fan of Haring’s work, circa-1987.

KEITH HARING

676 BROADWAY N.Y.C. 10012 212-477-1579

Michael –

Thanks for your letter. I draw everyday. When I was 15, I wanted to be an artist so I drew all the time. It was my only visible talent.

Whatever you do, the only secret is to believe in it and satisfy yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else.

Good luck,

Keith

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