All artistic people share one thing in common above all – they are everything but conformists.

I remember riding my bike and thinking what questions I’m going to ask my future guests in my imaginary talk-show. I must have been an 8-year-old at the time, but I still carry that intensely vivid imagination with me. I also remember the moment I told my grandma that I would be studying Journalism & Creative writing with Italian and her response was everything but supportive, ‘Wow…everything revolves around words. What if you wake up one day and you no longer have the ideas? Don’t you think you should have something more secure as a degree?’ 

What I didn’t understand at the time is that my grandmother was simply trying to protect me by suggesting I should have a safety net, yet the idea of it still sounds foreign to me. The notion of studying for years something I have little interest in, just for the sake of having a plan B, does not simply discourage me, but it rather repulses me. Some people live by their logic and I feel – colours, images, music, vibrations, energies, flowers – everything that surrounds me. Consequently, I have been fascinated by the vast world of arts for as long as I can go back. Books will keep me late at night, movies will have me analyze scenes for days, music will capture me in a state of euphoria, dancing will spin me around until all my atoms are elevated with joy. 

1. Follow your heart. The sooner you learn that lesson, the better you’ll choose in life, the happier and freer your soul. Once you answer the most important question which concerns what is it that you’re passionate about, you’ll know with certainty which path to take. There are, of course, many paths that can lead you to the desired destination and don’t forget that over time our ambitions are due to experience some changes.

2. Be compassionate. Everybody has a story, some more painful to share, others more boring to hear. But don’t underestimate the power of being a listener. You cannot be a friend to everyone but you can be kind to everyone.

Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, Madrid | Stella Yanakieva

Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, Madrid | Stella Yanakieva

3. Be curious. Ask questions when you don’t know and get to know the people you find interesting. Chances are you’ll get to learn some pretty amazing stories from them. After all, each person knows something that you haven’t heard yet, whether that is a lesson to learn, or a story to laugh upon.

4. Be fearless. Following your heart might sometimes come at the price of standing alone, or leading you to take risks, and urging you to possess to courage to accept certain challenges that will most certainly lead you out of your comfort zone. Whatever you do, keep walking. It won’t be easier it times, but the view at the end is so much worth doing all the hard work.

Looking through photography books in | © Stella Yanakieva

Looking through photography books in Pabellón Villanueva | © Stella Yanakieva

5. Strive for knowledge. Always keep learning. Read books, and watch documentaries, and speak with like-minded people, and generally speak with passionate people.

6. Gather experiences. From turning doing the grocery shopping into an adventure to actually traveling to a foreign city and immersing in the unfamiliar streets. After all, the best way to learn about a country and its culture, traditions, history is to go and explore it.

Pabellón Villanueva, Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid | © Stella Yanakieva

Pabellón Villanueva, Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid | Stella Yanakieva

7. Appreciate art. Knowing how difficult it is to get recognition and how much effort it takes an artist to keep creating despite insecurities, doubts and flaws, it surely makes you appreciate art more and support local names.

8. Study languages. So you can meet more fascinating and unforgettable people, and understand more about other cultures, gaining an ever-growing sense that you belong to something greater than just being a resident of one city, country or continent.

9. Spend time on your own. Trust me, there is no other way for you to truly get to know your dreams, ambitions and needs than to get to know yourself first! Whether that comes from exposing your soul to the vast world of art, or by simply observing the world around you.

10. Stay positive. Following your pursuits will inevitably lead to some failures and disappointments. Don’t give up. Try harder and contact even more people. J.K.Rowling didn’t get published from the very first publisher she sent her manuscript to, it took her numerous attempts, but if she’d given up altogether, the world wouldn’t have seen the birth and influence of Harry Potter.