By Ingrid Neurohr | Special to The Tico Times
Some say you should pick a career that you like. But I thinkyou should work in something that comes naturally to you and complement it with something you are passionate about. For me, that has meant becoming a designer and pairing it with travel.
Art and design have always been a part of my life; I grew up working and playing in my Costa Rican grandmother’s art gallery and frame shop. It was natural for me to take two years of architecture, graduate from interior design and to earn a master’s degree in product and conceptual design.
But when I finished, it became clear that my real passion was traveling. There is nothing that gets me out of bed (at least not in a good mood) that doesn’t involve getting in a car, plane or boat. I love the wind in my hair, good music on the radio and watching a sunrise on the plane, and that is just the “getting somewhere” part. I won’t even start with cultural and gastronomic exchange, the friendships I’ve built regardless of language barriers, the ideas I’ve been able to spread about Costa Rica and its rain, food and natural richness.
I’ve worked in Panamá, studied in Spain and backpacked through most of Europe, and over time I have grown to love being a Costa Rican abroad. Being raised in such a laid-back country was an advantage in that it provided me with the flexibility to navigate very different cultures, people and ways of working. But, I have also had to overcome my cultural predisposition to stay in my comfort zone, choosing security and stability over my fear of the new and unknown.
I’ve had to learn to appreciate the experience of change, to value the lessons and get over the hassle and the anxiety of “the first time.” I’ve missed trains and planes, I’ve had to sleep in the middle of nowhere, I’ve been yelled at because I’m standing on the wrong side of the escalators (who knew there is a fast lane on escalators?).
I try to feed these experiences and this passion for traveling into my design. Because when I began to understand diversity, I began to understand people, and in turn I understood more about myself and who I wanted to be in this world. I’ve learned to value that which makes me unique, the ways Costa Rica has defined me as a designer: how I choose organic and hand crafted over industrialized and processed every time, the colors I am drawn to, the way I strive to design for enjoyment and not just function. I don’t think I would be able to recognize these things if I hadn’t traveled and met people who were so different – and so similar – to myself.