Finding your purpose in life can be natural to some, but challenging for others. A long journey of twists and turns in your career can help you find your overall calling. For some people, the signals come flying in during childhood and others reach the epiphany a little later in life.
As we continue on Nissan’s Blvd of Dreams series, we talked to two very different individuals with the same drive and ambition that helped them find their passion.
The Lifestyle Leader
Finding out the mindset of the millennial has been placed on a pedestal these days. With countless think pieces on the social generation and what we want in life, our career paths seem to be a wonder for many. For lifestyle blogger Andrea K. Castillo, the feeling is too familiar.
Castillo grew up in Brooklyn, NY with one vision: to conquer the music industry one artist at a time. After diving into internships during her sophomore year in college, the 27-year-old discovered the music industry’s vice – the internet made it hard to solidify a job. Soon after, Castillo decided to go after her second love, fashion, with the same results. With few doors opening, the dreamer never gave up.
“People would always ask me ‘Why are you studying these things?'” she said. “I’m like, ‘Because I love it!’ When I graduated, I couldn’t get a job but I thought, ‘This can’t be it!’ I applied and applied. I would even go into the office and hang out with my friends who had industry jobs and there was never anything. I also believed a lot of people I knew there was something and wouldn’t let me in for some reason.”
Castillo doesn’t dive into the reason, but for most millennials, age and lack of experience can work against them.
In a recent study by Business Insider and News To Live By, over 500 millennials were interviewed about their job status. With 16 percent of the millennials still unemployed after six months in the job market, the idea of working their dream job falls out the window and a stable full-time job becomes a priority. 44 percent said their first full-time job did not require a college degree and 37 percent left the job within the first two years because of lack of growth.
After transitioning into fashion, Castillo went through a lot of stress trying to find the perfect fashion job.
Castillo soon found her niche working for the now-defunct entertainment site, Concrete Loop. Being a big fan of the site, Castillo was thrilled when she got a position interviewing big artists like A$AP Ferg, SZA, Yuna, and more. She was also able to work on her personal blog.
“I had to stop and be like ‘I did this,'” she said. “I’m actually doing something that I want to do. Also there were times were like, I won’t say I questioned it, but I was still thinking about my own blog. My posts on that blog did fall behind, but I really had to focus on the bigger picture.”
With guidance from CL founder Angel Laws, Castillo says she finally found a boss that she could relate to.
“This is what it is..Angel is the only boss I’ve ever had that never insulted my intelligence,” she said. “The only one in my entire life, and she’s two years older than me. I’ve been at other companies where I had supervisors close in age, but it’s the only place I’ve been where I was encouraged. I came from places where it was like walking on eggshells and she was really open with us and that’s what I loved. She always said, ‘I want this to be a stepping stone for you. This isn’t the end at all.’ At every company that died rather quickly, they wanted you to be attached at the hip and be there for the rest of your life, but they never got that far. Their approach was wrong. [Laws] really did change my life because everything started to make sense.”
Today, Castillo has made her journey work to her advantage. With her lifestyle blog, A Life In The Day of Andrea, the growing leader covers music, entertainment, fashion, and more from Brooklyn and beyond. Switching her career wasn’t planned, but the Belizean says your dreams will always form into bigger and better things.
“My life is an ongoing sentence of you’ll see,” she says. “I’m in the business of making it happen. If I think it up and if it’s important to me, I’ll figure out a way to make it happen.”
After years of perfecting his craft, Hollis Lewis always knew he was meant for something bigger. The 48-year-old worked in the corporate world as a Director of Life Safety at Rockefeller Center.
“I worked at a company right out of college,” he explained. “I’ve been there since November 1990, so I had been there 21 years. I worked my way up the ladder and you know, I was always a loyal person, go-to person…always very helpful. I always put myself out there, so rewards came. You know, they always acknowledged my work habits and kept promoting, but it was never anything fulfilling.”
When 9/11 happened, aggressive actions for security were stressed in the White House. The Big Apple went through its own internal changes. The city became more united in the face of tragedy, but fear became a familiar feeling for everyone. In hopes of relieving stress, Lewis took up yoga.
“I used yoga to keep me calm through the whole 9/11 and the other things that happened: that blackout, etc. Any problems or something, it was me. I dealt with crisis management. It was getting to a point when I was very tired of it. You know how the world is now, your best is never enough, so to speak.”
In 2011, Rockefeller Center decided to cut ties with Lewis and dozens of other employees. After years of wanting something more, Lewis was more than thrilled to be leaving his job.
“They called us into a conference room in February 2011 and announced they gave up the contract and people are like, ‘What are we going to do? What about our jobs?’ People were really upset and I was beaming at that point. I was trying to contain my excitement in that chair. I don’t know if I was talking to them or talking to God, but I said, ‘Thank you for affording me all the opportunities that you did, thank you for all the wonderful things or whatever. I know it’s not personal, it’s professional. Let us all have a great life.’” By the end of that month, March 31st, we were finished. That was my last job at 5 p.m. April the 1st came and that was the start of my new life. I never looked back.”
Four years later, Lewis is the founder of Happy Hollis Days, one of New York’s influential yoga studios. With retreats and special yoga classes, Lewis is at peace and more than happy to spread his positive aura to his students.
“I have been very successful so far,” he said. “I have never looked back; there is always room for improvement, but I have constantly been growing. Cultivating my business. Cultivating myself. Cultivating my story. The way I tell my story is to use as an inspiration to help other people in their problems. Even when I used to have to terminate employees, I would say, ‘Don’t look at this as a bad thing. Sometimes life forces you down a road that you shouldn’t ordinarily take, but you won’t get off the highway. So think of this as a Mack truck just knocked you off the side of the road. Now keep on driving off the exit and go drive to your glory!’ That’s exactly what happened to me. I looked at it that way and that’s what it came to be. I’m a yoga teacher now and I’m loving it. I just love helping people reach their greater potential.”
Coming from two extremely different jobs, Lewis says he never felt more sure about life. His advice to people jumping from one career extreme to the next? Don’t stress it.
“If you can dream it, you can be it,” he says. “Shut off that radio in your head telling you what you can’t do. Learn to listen to your true authentic self. That will guide you and protect you. Learn to trust it, along with your breath.”