HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS?
Everyone is special and we all have different ways to go, but I think all the ways are leading to a one thing- happiness, and I guess I got it! In this post I would like to share with you my story, which is pretty long. You may also watch a short movie about my life here (unfortunately, it’s available only in Russian and only in a very short version, but I am working on the subtitles:) ).
I was raised in Novosibirsk, third biggest city-metropolitan in Russia (yyeeaahh, we even have 13 metro stations, yoo?? haha ). Novosibirsk is an amazing place with variety of everything, like weather conditions (it’s Ural, baby) and PEOPLE. People are very important to me. I love people ❤️
I was born in Akademgorogok (which is a part of Novosibirsk and can be translated as “the city of science”), as you can guess, almost all best research universities are located there, Akademgorodok is also home for many Russian talented scientists. My dad wasn’t an exception and was studying Optical Physics and Cartography. During my childhood I would listen to “fairytales” about Black Holes, Cosmos, Parallel Universes, and Quantum Physics: these are favorite dad’s topics, and so mine as well. Cosmos, sciences, quantum and theoretical physics fascinate me.
Then blah-blah-blah (long story): my parents divorced, I studied in 4 different school (private, public, Lyceum, Gymnasium), lived in 12 different places, was dancing, swimming, singing, playing piano. In other words, developing in all possible fields, thank my parents for all the wonderful opportunities.
When I was 14 my adulthood has started: that is a veeery long and interesting story, but since I am not sure if all of you would be interested in reading it, I’ll just make it as short as possible.
So yes, shortly, crisis in Russia had not passed by my family and we didn’t have money. I decided to support at least myself and went to work as a housekeeper (in Russia you can’t legally work till you are 16, and usually there are no jobs for young people, especially in Novosibirsk, where people with degrees are barely able to find a position). But I was lucky and found amazing employees, who are still my good friends! I was studying and working, working and studying, sleeping, working, and studying… Ahh, liifee… For two years straight that was my lifestyle, and you know what happened? I became happy! Yes-yes! That was the period when I have learned three very important things:
When you are living in a routine: school-work-sleep-school-work and etc, you are automatically forgetting your true soul and personality, since you just don’t have any time to care about it.. Money, we all know.. But I am so grateful I have been in this circle, and successfully got out of it, since it taught me how to enjoy “small things” (but actually most important things, we are just living a little backwards) and find positive meaning in everything. For example, every day after middle school I would go help a family with housekeeping, then would walk back to NOT MY home at 10pm to wake up and go to the school next morning, what is good about that?
I always believed that “clean and organized surroundings -is clean and balanced head and mind”, so I was helping people to be more organized, hence productive, that means that they have done more useful things for others! First couple of month when I walked back from work, I would always look for things that would excite/amaze me (so I don’t go too deep into my head), then it became my habit and I started noticing how amazing surroundings and people are.
***Seriously, you are so special! Everyone is so unique, there are no identical people in the world ? We all have special skin, eyes, hair, faces, bodies, minds, thoughts, ideas, life stories, and a lot more that is only about YOU.***
At that time I have started feeling and seeing something, that many people wouldn’t notice: I would just go and talk to people on the streets, help them (if I could), try to suppose what they feel and their reaction… It was always (and still) so fascinating for me to learn about people and open them up for the sincere feelings and emotions. I am a very genuine person, I just don’t know how to act or pretend. If I am truly enjoying something I put my full energy, emotions, and soul into it and that makes me an “alive” and creative personality.
ENJOY AND LOVE
From my story I have learn how to appreciate and be grateful for everything. I don’t know who or what it is, but there is definitely more powerful energy than us, and I believe that this energy has helped me a lot (or maybe it’s just a projection of my own mindset). I have learned how to enjoy just from walking, sitting, doing something or nothing, how to just enjoy by being in this world and having the opportunity to share my thoughts, emotions, and love with others.
When I turned 16 another important event happened in my life. One day mom told me and my younger sister that we are moving to the USA, but first she has to go there for a year without us.
Okeeii! So well, mom left and we moved to my dad’s studio, which was about 40 miles away from the place where we lived with my mom, but we haven’t stayed there for a long time by some circumstances. I decided to be on my own, absolutely on my own. So I came back to the center of the city to live with my friend, work, and study, while fully supporting myself and helping my younger sister as much as I could.
8 months were gone and “YAY!”, I thought, “FINALLY WE ARE MOVING TO THE USA”! Finally I will have my own space (not a mattress on the floor, like in Russia), FREE time, happy family, and OPPORTUNITIES!!”, I thought..
We moved to the USA!
I moved to the USA with the hope to have a place I could call “home” and people I could call “family”. Shortly, it didn’t work and instead I have got cameras inside the house, dissapointment in people, understanding of “mental disorders” (through surrounded me people, which unfortunately I couldn’t ignore or leave, I was completely dependent on them, I wish you never feel dependent someone who is not mentally healthy, we will talk about it later in the post), and total control over my life, which I was trying to escape from as soon as possible. All of that made me finish school in one year instead of two, work a loooot, and moved out from my stepfather’s house with a camera and $1000 (let’s say, without any details and explanations, my stepfather didn’t want me in the house).
***Long time ago, back in Russia, my dad got a camera for our family and photography was just one of my hobbies. I would take pictures of nature, friends, my trips to Altai Mountains and just everything around. I would never think I would call myself a professional photographer one day. How did it happen? Here..
After our transition to the USA, a wonderful family hired me to help them with housekeeping. Once, while cleaning, I noticed a camera on a table (it was a very good professional camera, with a cool lens ???). I offered this wonderful family a photoshoot, which I am still embarrassed for, since it was my first time working with not Russian people (I was in the USA for about 6 months at that time and had a language barrier), as well as my first time working not with my friends… So yes, it went baaaddd ?! BUT! I haven’t lost the belief and started reading and learning about photography on my breaks between school and work (I was 17 at the time). I started my photography business with a minimum wage possible for a photographer in DMV area and have been working like that for about 7-8 months just to create the portfolio and get my own camera (this family was amazingly kind and allowed me to borrow their camera on each photoshoot I would go, which I am very grateful for, thank you). ***
We are getting closer, guys!
So, here I am: alone in a foreign country, without any financial support, without home, without my culture, without moral support (I don’t really have friends, my mom and sister were not in a good place and couldn’t share with me “energy” or “warmth”, and I absolutely understand them, since that was uneasy period for all of us; I actually felt like I was needed to support them and was trying of my best to help with money as much as I could).
You are sitting in a rented room. Nobody is around. You realize that here is no way back, and you just have yourself, positive attitude, and belief in the wonderful world. No connections, almost no money ($300), and long life ahead. First three questions I asked myself was: “How did it all happened? What do I do? What do I feel?”.
Since you know what happened from the story above and I will tell you in a second what happened next, let me start with the last question: “WHAT DO I FEEL?”.
I felt betrayed, I felt like nobody understands me, I felt uncertainty, I felt sadness. I came to the USA with the hope to feel home (and let’s say the choice of coming here was made in between two not very good scenarios, I choose the better one: go somewhere I didn’t have anyone (but my mom and younger sister) and anything at all, but at least have the opportunities to express myself, help others, and create the life I want, rather than staying in a country where I will have friends, but almost no opportunities to grow and develop)). Let’s talk about basics of human’s nature a little, what is that? I would say it’s curiosity and love. These two words were always my priorities, I was developing, while sharing love and supporting people around of me, even by a good conversations. When I moved here, unfortunately first thing I discovered, through the circle of “closest” people (I didn’t have a choice at that time, believe me, I am always the first person who sees new opportunities everywhere, but not in the situation we have been), was materialism (conception of what is absolutely against of sincere love, help, and curiosity). That was very difficult, but I am not the kind of person who gives up on my own values. Right next after materialism I discovered what are mental disorders, which is also absolutely not natural and scary for me. As you probably understand, my “perception” of the USA wasn’t positive and shiny. I was scared and closed, I couldn’t believe people can think this way.
I just felt betrayed. It made me think that I can’t trust anyone, but myself. But at the same time, I kept the values for love and curiosity. I had two worlds in one head. First: materialistic (the society), where you only get if you work hard and “love/help” if you ONLY want or need something, ONLY on the beneficial base. Second: where you just love/help and don’t except anything back, just because you do (my head). I was living in both. I would treat people the way I think is right: with love, but at the same time I would’t allow anyone to treat me this way because I knew how the rules are in the society here and I hated the feeling “owing” (but again, that was only because of the perception I have got from the fist year of living here, unfortunately I haven’t met right people back then). I would’t trust and I felt like people here were materialistic, soulless, and sick. It took me some time to get over the perception and start seeing people in a different way.
“WHAT DO I DO?”
I was stupid and decided to take a full time job as a barista (just for a case, business wasn’t stable at that time). I don’t know was it a mistake or not, but I was working 9 hours and spending 3 hours everyday for a road (I didn’t have a car at that time) on weekdays; working as a photographer and videographer on weekends; on my breaks between shifts I was processing the pictures, doing promotions, talking to clients, and making movies. I got suuupeer sick after 6 month being in this schedule.
Then another loong story…
I have traveled through couchsurfing.com (website) to the Bahamas, NY, FL, PA. Then decided to leave everything and just go develop. Soooo! I went to Russia! In Russia I got officially certified in photography, videography, filmmaking, sound engineering, graphic design, makeup, and styling. I have also traveled around Russia and by a magical circumstance even got a chance to be filmed in Saint-Petersburg to share my story. And TADDAM! I am finally back and focused on what I love and passionate about- life.
You have just read a very short version of my life, but almost all of that just describe my movements relatively to time and space, no feelings or emotions, right? Very soon I am going to share with you my philosophy and vision.
Thank you very much for your time and enjoy your life! 🙂
Best wishes, Anastasia