Motivation is powered by Vocal creators. You support Jina Maxell by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Motivation is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Life's Journeys... Part 1

Following what you truly want

I'm currently on my most amazing journey! 

It's different from every journey I started, because it's finally one where I wanted to be my entire life. I've worked so hard to get here... and finally I am arriving.

We all have dreams as kids—mostly they are dreams that were pressed upon us to achieve our parents dreams and expectations. When we get older some of us realize how overwhelming those dreams actually are, and that they are nothing near what we would love for ourselves. Most of us still continue to fight for a dream that has never been theirs. They find reasons as to why they should do it, and pretend to be happy. Deep inside they all know they will never be happy unless they change their path completely and become that firefighter or dancer they secretly wanted to become. Most of those kids and teenagers walk their parents chosen paths for way too long. They end up in addictions and have other anxieties, which were caused by suppressing their inner calling. I was that kid, but I've never been that teenager. 

When I was a kid, my mum had this beautiful dream of wanting one of her kids to become a doctor. When she had come to realize that none of her boys were willing to walk down that road, she decided to focus on her youngest and only daughter; me. I had always been a kid who was strong-headed, and who always got her way no matter what. So when mum convinced me to become a doctor—because of that being my dad's "only" wish—I wanted to be just that. Dad died when mum was pregnant with me, and I had never had a chance to meet him. So when I was told that his only wish was for one of his kids to become a doctor, I knew it had to be me! I was striving for his pride, and there was no way for me not to fulfill that wish of his. 

Years went by and as we moved to Austria—because of the Civil war of our Country Angola—I still kept that in the back of my mind. I wanted to become a doctor, when I grew up—even though I didn't really have a clue what that meant. I knew that was it! 

School started. It was fun for me and I enjoyed going. Every time the question came up, "What do you want to become when you grow up?" my answer was always the same "a doctor." While my classmates and friends changed their dreams almost every week, mine stayed the same. Mum was happy and proud! Since no one could change my mind—not even the people who would laugh at my dream, and think it was impossible for a foreign girl like me to become a doctor. I would never lose my faith, because at home there was a mum who would make sure whatever people said it didn't matter. She made sure my brothers and I knew that we could become anything we wanted in this world. So every time one of us was sad or down, she would sit us down and tell us not to listen to anything bad people said. They didn't know nothing, and one day we will prove them wrong. It always worked—Until this day.

Fast forward, I was ten and had decided not to become any doctor, but a pediatrician. I had loved kids and the idea of making every sad face smile again was one of my biggest aims. So when a movie (can't remember the name of it) came on one evening with a female pediatrician as a lead, I had to watch it. Little did I know, that that was the movie that would change everything for me. With that movie I was forced into the reality of being a doctor. I saw what it meant to have responsibilities, and it was far more than just making every sad face smile. Sometimes you would have days, where you just can't make that sad face smile, or worse, you could be the reason one of those sad faces never gets to smile again. This was what happened to that doctor in the movie. One of her patients died during an operation. It was a simple procedure, but something went wrong—and this was something that just happens. As a kid of ten years I was not able to see all of that, because I only believed in doctors doing good, and everything being fun. Never at any moment would it have crossed my mind that I was not able to fix every problem, and heal every pain as a doctor. I was so scared and freaked out by that movie that I made the decision then and there to become anything but a doctor. The doctor received death threats, and was stalked and almost ran over by the kid's parents in the movie—that was obviously nothing I wanted to experience. I had nightmares after watching it, but I knew for sure I had to look for another dream. As much as I loved my dad, I didn't want to have all that responsibility—especially not with the side effects of angry parents. 

That was when I reached the point of not knowing what to do in my life when I grew up. It was difficult to kill parent's dreams like that, but I was not willing to die in order to fulfill it either. So I was stuck and didn't have an answer to the most asked question at that age "What do you want to become when you grow up?" Before that time I had loved that question,  because I was sure and knew the answer, but afterwards I didn't. It became the hardest question to answer for me. At age 13 we had to take one of those tests that would reveal—based on our answers—what we should become when we grew up. I was so grateful for that test, because it had seemed to come right when I needed it. The day the results came in I was sick. I couldn't believe it! It was what I was waiting for. Since that test was from the state or something higher, I was not able to receive my result afterwards. Which meant I never would find out what the smart brains of the society thought I should become. For someone like me (the person I am today) that was a blessing, but back then the younger me would've taken any suggestion. I was so lost and desperate to have a direction, I would've taken the wrong one to just have one. Today I know it was meant to happen that way. Whatever the result was I was never meant to find out, because that would have led me to the wrong path. 

Many years after that, I really understood that it was OK to not have found out. That was when I started noticing that I have always been in love with music. It was part of my life long before it even made any sense to me (I can only recall probably one week (in total) in my 33 years, that I either have not listened to music, or sang a song. Those were times I was so sick, I could't recall anything that happened around me). I remember composing my first song when I was five—don´t call it writing, because I was not one of those geniuses, who could spell and write at that age. My song was called "Eu te gosto" (it was in my mother tongue Portuguese, and meant "I like you"), and it had everything a song should have. When I think back I'm so surprised how, at a young age like that, I knew that a song had to be structured in a chorus, verses, and a bridge. 

Since I couldn't write, I memorized the whole song and was singing it non-stop for weeks. It was so funny, because I would annoy my entire family with that song to a point where they couldn't help but sing it as well. Hahaha, that was hilarious. Still that didn't give me a hint later on to what my mission and path was meant to be. I mean when we were 12 some friends and I decided to start a girl group—forgot how we named the group, but I recall bad name choices. Anyhow, we really tried it seriously for a couple of weeks, or even months. We've written our own songs, and worked on dance routines after school. It really seemed for me that we could really do something with it, but that was just for a short time. The other girls lost interest in the girl group, and the whole thing came to an end. I was kind of disappointed, but continued with the songwriting whenever I felt like it—it became my best way to deal with all the issues that come with growing up—it was my so-called therapy. 

With 13, I started taking breakdance classes—I was always blown away by the great hip hop and break dance moves. Through my breakdance teacher I got invited to join the girl group called "Shaneira" a year later. This was a very interesting journey. We went on tour, had shows, and even fans. People came to see our shows and I got to meet some of the famous groups back then like the Vengaboys, Rednex, and Dj Bobo. It was a big deal for me to meet those people who lived that life on a constant basis. Seeing them on TV and magazines, then live in front of me was really impressive. I really started enjoying these moments of performing on stage, and having people waiting to get an autograph—even though our group was not that known or anything—I truly got the feeling of how it was to live that type of lifestyle. I really loved to perform—especially as a background dancer, it was a lot of fun. 

Soon after our Austrian Tour, our lead singer decided to leave the group. Before she dropped that bomb, the whole group dynamic was kind of falling apart. We were a group of three background dancers and a singer. We never really connected as a group—if I'm being honest—we, the dancers, seemed kind of extra. Our singer always had this diva thing going, which was sometimes difficult to work with. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed our shows and moments as a group on stage. So, when our singer decided to leave the group, I was asked to step up. I was surprised, since I was only 14, and the other two girls were 18 and 23 (I guess, but definitely early 20s). A little overwhelmed by that offer, and not too convinced either with the whole management team behind the team, I declined. Some things financially were apparently a little dodgy—which was the reason our singer had quit in the first place. Short after that I decided to leave the group as well. Not only because I was having a bad feeling continuing with the group, but school started being stressful—and having to skip to go on tours didn't help. 

Now I was back to just being a teenager—with the difference that now I considered the idea of becoming a singer. I didn't communicate this with many people—if I even did. By that time I knew how people were thinking about singers, dancer, and actors. Their opinion was that you had to be lucky to make it in those industries, and therefore one should choose something that pays their bills, and gets food on the table—this is something, I'm sure, one of you have heard before as well. It's rarely that people don't comment on this—at least I can't remember being a teenager, and not receiving a lecture on that. 

Nevertheless, I had made the decision to try to be one of those so called "few" who made it. 

We all have a purpose and I'm sure if we would stop people's voices from being louder than our own, we would discover that purpose much sooner. 

Now Reading
Life's Journeys... Part 1
Read Next
Just Do The Damn Thing