To think that a piece of recycled paper, ink and some words can spark such a huge following is quite amazing. This shows how powerful words can be, especially the right words together. To me the Manifesto is more than just inspiring words, it is validation, acceptance and a sense of community.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the decisions I was making and the paths that I took in my life was very much the Manifesto. Even at an early age, the choices I’ve made were not what a lot of people, especially my family, had hoped for and had expected of me. I come from a traditional Chinese family and their plans for me were the typical safe and lucrative professions, like being a doctor or a lawyer. A straight foreseeable path.
While I did get good grades in school and was capable of going down that route. My interests and passions lie elsewhere. After all I was the creative, sensitive and “odd” one in the family. I pursued my interests in the arts and despite my family’s dismay, I went to college to foster my creativity.
While working at my first job at a design firm, I realized something was missing. After speaking to countless people about me wanting to leave, they all advised me to stay because having a stable job is hard to come by in this economy and being a designer in New York is highly competitive. Ultimately, I realized I was not happy there and feeling uneasy about it, I left.
While applying for new jobs and waiting to hear back, I decided to design and create some bags I had in my head and sketchbook for a long time. I just had to get them out and make a sample just so I would stop thinking about them and keep wondering if they worked or not. After making the samples, I snapped some photos and emailed them to some friends. Those friends emailed them to other friends and from there, blogs and magazines starting picking them up and writing about them. From the blogs I started getting orders for the bags. I debated long and hard with myself and I realized that this was an opportunity and it may not come again, I told myself I’m going to see where this takes me and dove head first into it. Using my nick name I was teased with in High School, I now founded a Brooklyn-based design studio that specializes bags.
When I first stumbled onto the Manifesto online, it hit me hard. Until then, I was always insecure and felt a sense of guilt about the choices that I’ve made. I feared I was letting my family down and I did question my judgement at times. After seeing those words, it validated and reassured me that the decisions I’ve made had good reason. I’ve now come to accept the fact that those choices were necessary order for me to reach my potential and live a happy and fulfilling life.
The sense of community the Manifesto evokes is astounding. When I first read it, in my head I thought to myself, ” Yes, these people get it!” It is easy to feel alone when making some tough and life changing decisions, but realizing that the manifesto resonated with you the same way it did to millions of people around the world, you can’t help but feel connected to each other in some way.
-Vincent Lai | Skinny Vinny