One of the things that I was most excited about when planning, designing and building laurajaneillustrations.com, was it's potential to be a space where I could connect with you all MORE. Whether you're a long time follower or you've just discovered me, I hope that these little peeks into my life and story will help you feel more connected to me as a creator, because each and everyone one of YOU are part of that story too.
How would you sum up your 20s?
Unpredictable, adventurous & challenging! My life now is SO far from what I ever expected or imagined it would be, but in the best way possible. I'm so grateful for all the challenges that my 20s presented me with because they forced me to grow in ways I never expected I could.
What's your outlook on life now that you're 30?
Life isn't about meeting milestones, but rather about finding ways to live joyfully, whatever that looks like for you personally. Simply put, there is no map so make your own way!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
If you had asked me this question at the start of my 20s I would have been able to present you with a multi-phase plan with goals and targets, BUT most of the things I thought I wanted 5 or 10 years ago, I don't actually want or have now. So I've decided that I don't really want to have a five year plan, but rather I just want to keep trying to find new ways to create joy and build a life that feels fulfilling and honestly, I don't know what that will look like.
A piece of advice for the younger ones that you wish you knew then?
The only one who can decide what's best for you, is you. While there are so many people in our lives who will contribute to our story, at the end of the day we are the ones who get to have the final say. It's super easy to fall into the trap of living life in a way that you think others expect from you or will make others like/respect you more but the more you do that, the more lost you will end up feeling. Making life choices based on what you think is the next best thing for you, while it won't make life 'easy', it will make facing your personal challenges somewhat easier because you're doing things on your terms.
What are the best & worst things about living in Italy?
The best thing is without a doubt the food! There is SUCH an amazing food culture in this country and the longer I live here, the more in love I fall with it and the passion for food that Italians have. The worst (or more challenging) thing about living here is how complicated all Italian public systems are - I get SO stressed about filing a form or anything that involves going to a public office because it is almost always an overly complicated process!
Did/do you teach in an International school?
I am I fully qualified Primary & Early Years teacher with over seven years in class experience and yes, three of those years were at an English International School in Milan.
How long did you teach for? What made you leave teaching?
I taught full time for seven years, working in lower Primary and Early Years. While there was so much about the job that I loved - the children, my colleagues, the sense of community that exists in a classroom and school - there were also I lot of things that I found challenging. Teaching is not just a '9-5 job', it's really challenging to find that work-life balance and all the needs of your students can weigh on you over time. In the end, when the opportunity presented itself for me to focus on freelance illustration and start fresh doing something that I love, I took it.
What is one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome & what did you do?
Social anxiety. Before starting college I had never heard of anxiety really, not to mention that there is a type of anxiety directly linked to socialising and all the different things that go with that. I struggled a lot with anxiety in college and again when I first moved to Italy. While I can't say that I've 'overcome' it (because anxiety is more complicated than that), I do believe I've become a lot more comfortable facing my anxiety and communicating to others about it. Talking helped a lot and so did reading and learning about anxiety so that I could understand my mind and why it works the way that it does.
How did you overcome your anxiety (and how did it present itself for you)?
I don't think anxiety is something that you can ever fully 'overcome', but rather you have to learn what triggers it for you and how you can move yourself through it or soothe it. For me, speaking with the student counselling services when I was in college was a huge milestone in helping me better understand myself and my mind and how to talk to others about it. Since then I try to work on myself regularly by reading books and articles from trusted sources so I can continue to learn about anxiety and how I can help myself.
What are the small ways you create joy everyday?
There are lots of things that help add joy to my day and often they are the little things that aren't planned or expected like seeing a beautiful sunset, finding flowers while out walking the dog or getting a really great coffee in the morning. Practicing mindfulness and daily gratitude have helped me find a new perspective on everyday joy over the past couple of years.
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