Doing What You Love And Loving What You Do
“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up, too.” – Isabel Allende.
Born and raised in New York City, Jeffrey Shiau has been living in Dublin, Ireland since September 2013. When he’s not working hard to help Stint Ireland be the best it can be, he’s also a budding writer, photographer, avid traveler, and baseball player among other things. In our latest blog post, we decided to sit down with him to discuss his latest project, 100 Days of Irish Words.
Tell us a bit about your project.
In a nutshell, 100 Days of Irish Words is a project where I take a photo and pair it with an Irish word, each day for a hundred days. My project is one of many 100 day projects being undertaken by the talented people of this world.
#the100dayproject was launched by The Great Discontent, a magazine featuring interviews with creators, and Elle Luna, an artist, designer and writer. The project calls for people to participate in 100 days of making. The “making” can be anything, whether it’s taking a photo, meditating, going on a date, or talking to a stranger.
It’s a celebration of the journey.
What’s your motivation behind this project?
I want to learn to love the process. Like I mentioned before, for me and for many others, the destination always seems to be the focus. It’s natural for us to think that way. After all, it would be disconcerting to live, to do anything, without a purpose. But when all you’re focused on is publishing a novel or tallying the number of countries you’ve visited, you lose sight of why you set out on that road in the first place.
When people say carpe diem (seize the day), what pops into mind is excitement and adventure. But that’s a simple way of looking at it. To bathe in the cold currents of the Colorado River requires a day’s hike down the winding – and absolutely otherworldly – paths of the Grand Canyon. To watch the “nation’s first sunrise” on the peak of Cadillac Mountain in Maine requires the will to wake up and traverse its slopes in the dewey darkness of the early morning. The road to your journey’s end is often arduous but it’s a part of the process.
Deireadh (je-roo): ending. Day 11 of #100daysofirishwords for the #The100DayProject A photo posted by @jeffreyshiau on
That’s why I want to hone my ability to enjoy myself in the moment. I’ve wanted to undertake one of these 30-day, 100-day, challenges as a way for me to do the things I enjoy instead of wasting away my time on the internet. It’s to help me embrace all aspects of life, from the riveting to the mundane. And it’s also a way for me to create things I am proud of while allowing me to continue to discover Dublin and Ireland at the same time. When I spotted the project on The Great Discontent, I knew it was something I’d have to take part in.
What have you learned so far?
What separates the achievers from the dreamers is action. All the time, I cross paths with people who say they’d like to write a book someday or that they’ll quit their job to travel. Most of the time, it’s just fluff. Everyone can say they’d like to do something, myself included. But it takes determination and, sometimes, a leap of faith, to walk the walk.
So far, it’s been a chore to force myself to work on a photo every single day. Honestly, I’ve even missed a few days already (I made up for them afterwards). Hopefully that will change as the project continues. It’s shouldn’t be a hassle but something that’s therapeutic and relaxing. While it might be difficult to get myself to go on photoshoots, I truly enjoy strolling around Dublin, scouting for a good shot. It gives me a fresh perspective of the city.
Could you apply these values to your work with Stint Ireland?
Of course! I think loving the process is essential for going abroad. What we consume on the internet perpetuates so much of our perception of the world. Before my semester abroad in Scotland, I remember reading those study abroad listicles on Buzzfeed and believing how my experience would turn out to be non-stop traveling, partying, and having the time of my life. Ok, well, it was all that, but it was also so much more! While experiencing foreign culture and meeting foreign people were part of the experience, the other part was life past the cliches. At the end of the day, when you strip everything down from my experience abroad, it was spending time with people I care about, doing things I enjoy, in a place I love. That’s a piece of wisdom I’ll try to pass on to our program participants.
As for our work here at Stint, I think it’s ingrained in our company’s values. As a business, we’re always looking to grow. However, it’s important to remember that every single individual that comes through our program is unique and deserves a quality experience.
Do you have any other projects planned?
Yes, too many to keep track of! Typically, my ideas are (too) ambitious – always about changing the world. This time, I think I’m going to start small. Everyone can make an impact on a small scale and touch the lives of those around you. I’ve been thinking a lot about living abroad and my friendships lately. I’ve realized that I need to do a better job of keeping in touch with the people that matter to me. I wanted to put thought and effort into the interaction so I’ve decided I’d like to take on a monthly project where I’ll curate a box (inspired by Quarterly) of goodies every month for someone I care about. The goodies can be things I make, objects I come across on my travels, or stuff that I find interesting. I haven’t ironed out the details yet, but that’s the plan!
Adhmad (ah-mud): wood. Day 9 of #100daysofirishwords for the #the100dayproject A photo posted by @jeffreyshiau on
What advice would you give someone – anyone?
Choosing to devote yourself to something you’re passionate about isn’t easy. If you’re a writer and you think the words will just spill out of you, or if you’re a traveler and you think you’re going to get a world tour like the ones you see in GoPro videos and travel blogs without working for it, you’re fooling yourself. There are always barriers and you have to fight to get what you want.
It often requires wandering into the unknown and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.
It’s something I’ve encountered a lot since graduating college. In “real life,” without any syllabi, assignments, or exams, there’s no structure in place for doing. Anything you do is a choice. To truly live to your full potential, you have to push yourself and provide your own structure. How do you do that?
Do what you love. But even more importantly, love what you do.
Love the process.