Pijo Photography


Today marks 60th day of being stuck home since Colombian government announced a full lockdown, sponsored and brought to us by Covid-19. When the first wave of ‘What the actual fuck?’ hit me, it was all about worrying. But when it settled down and I began to hope for the best but expect nothing-I smelled it: an opportunity. An opportunity to put in practice everything I’ve learnt in the last years about living in a moment, worrying exclusively about things that I CAN control and remembering that the more scary the experience in life is, the stronger we come out on the other side. So here I was, forced to look back, something I haven’t done in a very long time. The world changed. The famous ‘To do’ lists turned into ‘What not to do’ ones with regret lingering in the air. People realising they don’t like their apartments, partners, they don’t have hobbies or security, they hate being alone with their own thoughts and no distraction around. And it was time for my list: Would I have done anything differently?
It was an exciting discovery. The verdict was a shiny, sexy no. If someone forced me to repeat my 20s, I would go and repeat every single mistake all over again. I would have said to my young silly self: You go, girl. You go where you want to go and you make as many mistakes as you can. Fail hard and write all of it down. If you are out there making mistakes, it means you are living the best kind of life- a brave one. It means you are curious and constantly searching for more. Oh, what a wonderful life that is, when you are not scared of failing. What a life.


View from my building in Dubai during morning fog

I was just 24 when I ‘had it all’. I literally went on the other side and had a little look. I am referring to the side that most people are working so obsessively and blindly to get on. I was rich, independent and successful and it came to me quickly and without any notice. I had a successful business, I lived in a five star hotel apartments and I traveled. I had so much money and time I didn’t know what to do with them. I hit a jackpot in a game of life-I technically didn’t have to even try anymore. The outside world was letting me know I made it. Congratulations. It felt good and cosy, like laying under a blanket and watching Netflix for the whole weekend. What’s wrong with that? I love Netflix! The problem is that while you choose to watch other people’s lives, your life is happening without you. But you are safe and comfortable, which your brain wants you to be in case a wild animal comes by and eats your family. Yep, that’s what our brain is designed to do. It doesn’t want you to go out there and take risks, it is here to protect you from dangers of the unknown. How do I know that laying on a couch and watching Netflix feels great but also makes you want to slice your wrists? Because I did it FOR A YEAR. That’s right. I could so I did.  I had all the time and money to become anyone I wanted to be and to do whatever I wanted to do and it felt horrible to have made it and realise there is no big prize waiting for me there. No fulfilment that we hear about.

So I set up my second company, decorated my beautiful apartment and lay down on the sofa with a view of Burj Khalifa in Dubai for the whole 2017. 

For some time, I lived off the compliments pointing out how successful I was at such early age. How brave it was to open my business in a foreign country. But it didn’t feel brave. It was easy to go after what everyone else was going for because it was a common path walked by many with a ‘how to’ manual. 

What I failed to do was to be brutally honest with myself and ask: what was success for me? It turned out it was not owning a convertible or a Chanel purse. It was living consciously and creatively. Doing the right thing, not the sexy thing. Logging out of social media and actually living. It is not GETTING SOMEWHERE, it is being exactly where I am, seeing things exactly as they are and doing things I want regardless of being terrified of not making a fool of myself. 

If you are just surviving and putting the BEST IDEAS on hold for later, when there is more money and time, I have some news for you-later never comes. That’s why the concept of living in a present is so genius and it’s actually the only way to live. If you don’t learn to live in the present, you will always wait for something better to come, for some imaginary morning when you wake up motivated to finally change your reality. It feels so good when you get there, but don’t take my word for it. Because what do I know?


Holding a signed contract after selling my first business in Doha, Qatar

So, you went the wrong direction and life slapped you like a little bitch. Fantastic. How else would you learn? It is an opportunity to try yet another direction. Remember, there are zero guarantees that this one will be THE ONE. What?! No guarantees? Life doesn’t owe me now a happy ending after all the hard work? Well…are you dying? Because if you are not, then why are you so obsessed with an ending? Will my idea fail? Will I get hurt? Yes! Yes, you will. If you constantly search to be better, to live a brave life in the arena, you will put yourself out there, you will do things that maybe don’t have a big future, but feel fantastic, feel right- you will get hurt and you will know failure. And slowly, you will get used to it and it will scare you less, and you will find joy in curiosity itself. 

Being present and showing up for your life will make you so grateful, so aware, so full of energy, it won’t even matter if you are succeeding anymore. You will let go of wanting to be in control all the time, you will take on the challenges and enjoy the ride.

You know what’s better than successful career and money? Getting off this crazy train that is chasing nothing and going nowhere and asking yourself: What am I scared of today? And diving into that wilderness straight away. 

Graffiti from Comuna 13 in Medellín. Screenshot from my first music video in Colombia

In 2018,  I moved to Medellín, Colombia. Life became creative again. I didn’t have the wealth to cover for my absence anymore. It was just me and unlimited possibilities for new exciting mistakes. Moving to Colombia was scary and it did feel brave. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to have a business to support my art. Or I could try to fit on a new, cheaper couch, as I still have the Netflix subscription. It was a third business I created but this time I didn’t build it to buy me nice things or show people that I’ve made it. This time, I built it to support my creative, braver life. Taking my camera out and asking people if I could photograph them for free and not letting my ego stop me, felt brave. Introducing myself as an artist or creative director felt scary, therefore brave. I had to be vulnerable and honest again. I had to let myself be open for judgements and do things that I am not very good at yet.

But the most scary things of them all, which I am facing now while writing those words, is this: I am creating something just for the sake of being able to do it. I am pledging to live a creative life for absolutely no other reason but to live a creative life. I am not hoping to be the best anymore. I am not trying to gain recognition. My only hope is to be able to do it constantly, regardless of my fear of failure. To make more mistakes than ever. To piss off some people, and to start many difficult conversations. To be part of the cultural change, to use my privilege to give voice for those who are scared or shy to speak up. To inspire a little. To inspire YOU to quit your job that you hate. To inspire YOU to start painting or dancing or writing IF you used to but stopped because why bother, if you are not a full time artist or you are not going to be the best, right? If you have business and you are killing it, my dream is for you to use your brand to change the world around you. Tell better stories. Don’t sell shit nobody needs promising things that will never happen. Don’t promote things that harm others. Don’t post skinny, perfectly looking photoshopped selfies, do something better with your time and talents. And live more creative life. Because that is how  you get out of depression, that’s how you meet love of your life, that’s how you get to feel proud and brave. When you take risks, when you are not scared to fail and when you live a curious life. Just find time to create something inspiring. Don’t wait for someone to pay you for it, or to be the better at it than your competition. Actually, stop waiting in general. One day, when you have the budget? Fuck the budget. One day, when you have more time? Fuck that. Be honest. Replace something meaningless that steals your time with what makes you feel alive. Creativity comes in so many forms for a reason, there is one for everyone. Express yourself without any recognition. You don’t need to post it on Instagram. Do it quietly, proudly, just for yourself if that is the way that makes you happy. And push yourself. Do what scares you. Trust me, there is nothing waiting for you THERE, when you finally have the money and time. There is literally nothing there except of more excuses.

Do your art like nobody’s watching. Move your body like nobody’s watching. Fuck selfies, fuck Instagram LIVE stories. Do ugly art if you have to and then send it to your friend and laugh at it together. 

Thank you for taking the time. I know time is precious and I am honoured you chose to spend it with me. See you in the next post, it will be a good one.

(Or maybe it will be shit, but I will write it and post it here anyway)

LITTLE NOTE: I am aware that the essay was a little chaotic. It’s my first one in a very long time. I have a lot to say and this post, being the first one, was like a little introduction full of teasers of subjects that excite me. If you stay with me, I promise that I will be practising being more organised and sticking to a topic. But even though this one was all over the place and far from being ideal, that’s kind of the whole point- it’s a process and the more we do something, the better we get at it, right? So that’s my plan:)