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The Power of Believing You’re an Artist…

"'Artist' isn't a superficial label. It's an identity that forms from doing the work." – Stefanie Flaxman

In How to Feel Good as a Writer: an Origin Story, I wrote, “It’s not our job to know all of the whys, whats, and hows of the future. It’s just our job to do the work.”

“Doing the work” before you reach professional status in a creative field is often self-directed.

Because it’s in your nature to create, you envision and execute your own projects. You know you’re practicing and building your portfolio, even if others ask you, “What’s the point?”

You could let that question drain your energy as you try to explain yourself. You could let it distract you. You could let it stop you.

But artists don’t.

Here’s a story of a young artist who, through a dedication to his craft, got a life-changing opportunity.

Food critic Kalen Allen meets Ellen

Just a few months ago, Kalen Allen was an honors student at Temple University juggling five jobs:

  1. A front-desk worker for the residence halls
  2. An Amazon Prime Student Brand Ambassador
  3. A marketer for the theater and film department
  4. A student standardized patient for the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school
  5. A co-host of Temple Talk, a campus talk show

On top of all of that, he was making split-screen videos of humorous commentary alongside cooking tutorials.

After one went viral, Ellen DeGeneres invited him on her show and surprised him with a business deal to make his “Kalen Reacts” clips for her audience.

A few weeks later, after moving to Los Angeles, Kalen returned to Ellen and gave her audience an update.