In my early 20s, I spent a lot of time reading self-help books. The very first book I picked up was called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I randomly picked it up in a best seller section of Target while gathering supplies for my trip to Thailand. It was my first quarter-life crisis mental clarity trip and an embark-ation to me finding my true identity.
While flying to Thailand, I studied The Happiness Project and took a ton of mental notes on happiness. The entire book is Rubin writing about what she does to try to find happiness. Well, I tried almost everything in her book and it worked at times but it never really resonated.
I mention this book because one task she said to do stuck out — collecting. So I began to search for my identity with something to collect from the markets of Thailand.
At first, I struggled. There wasn’t anything in particular that I thought would be worth gathering. I tried to start by collecting owls. I purchased a lot of owl earrings and trinkets, but it didn’t give me any form of new happiness. I loved the owls, but it wasn’t something to write home about. I stopped collecting a while ago and still struggled to find my niche.
Later on, in my late twenties, I had my quarter-life crisis 2.0. When it happened, I had an absolute loss of pride and self-respect. I decided that the only way to emotional survival was to find an outlet. It was at that moment that I decided to pursue a vinyl collection.
I have always been a music junkie. I grew up learning how to play instruments since kindergarten and have listened to music my entire life. For a while, I wanted to increase my vinyl record collection even further. It was at this 2.0 crisis that I decided it was time to fulfill my dream collection. I created a mission for myself: I sought to obtain 29 vinyl records before my 29th birthday and publish an eBook about it.
For the longest time, I’ve collected a couple of vinyls here and there. I never had more than about a dozen. With this project, I made it a goal to increase my collection. I tied my creativity into the project by planning to write a passage on that specific album.
I turned to my friends, family, and people I cared about for music suggestions. Collecting vinyl alone was an excellent idea. Instead of sitting and talking about how horrible my current-life situation was, I focused on the music. That’s all I would talk about was the albums and what I would get next.
In addition to people in my personal network who enjoyed my collecting project, I also found an entire online community who cared. There was nothing more exciting than strangers being warm and welcoming to the idea and concept. It was evident from the first project that this was an area I belonged in and that I knew a lot about.
For my birthday, I published my book on Amazon. It was the very first book I published which led to around five more on music. In 2016, I decided to continue the project and start a “366 Vinyl by 366 Days: A Leap Year of Music.” Each day I feature a vinyl record and then post it to my Instagram. A lot of people have enjoyed the project and continue to show their support.
All of this started with a collection and hobby in the form of therapy. I like to think that my identity is in my projects and not in my day job or any other outside circumstance. The only thing I can control is my projects and collections, and thus that is my identity.