Summer '98, I picked up the paintbrush and acrylics that had been in my mother's storage for decades and just started painting. No prompts, no education, I just began painting. That's the only consistent thing between my life then and now.
My goal, until late college, was to marry and have children. As a 12 year old in an extremist parish, it was expected that I would marry within six years and then have a baby less than two years after that. Travel, feminism, higher education, writing, etc. didn't fit into any of that. If I could tell my self fourteen years ago about my life now, she would be terribly disappointed and shocked at my independence. It took breaking ties with unhealthy, abusive people to understand personal control, self-reliance and self-love.
Painting would be the only thing of my life now that would please my 12 year old self. It all started with random experimentation. I found that I was able to communicate things that can't be put into words, though my reading and writing were already at a 12th grade level. And I did it for myself. Kept alone indoors whenever I wasn't in school, this was a way of making my inner world come alive. That hasn't changed, though it's a way of communicating with both others and myself rather than primarily as a means of self-soothing escape. My 12 year old self would be thrilled that I have a bachelor's in art and that I create almost daily.
My second painting, a mural in my bedroom. No prompting, no reference, I came up with this completely on my own: