Happy Hustler S.E. Tyler

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img_6104Tell us a little bit about your hustle and your happiness journey.

Right now I am working as a social media designer and outreach coordinator for AIDS Fund Philly by day. It's meaningful work being able to help the 19,500+ people living with HIV in the Philly region improve their quality of life. I consider myself as an advocate for the LGBTQ community and it is a blessing to be able to carry this passion into my professional work.  By night you can find me howling at a full moon and teaching painting classes at Painting With a Twist in Haddonfield, New Jersey. My work can feel like a heavy burden, but when I stop to think of all that I have accomplished it makes me excited to the next chapter of my journey.
When I think of how this all began, my mind is taken back to the 3rd grade when I first started to write stories that were accompanied by my drawings. By the time I reached 12, I would be staying up past hours to draw on printer paper in my bed, eraser shavings falling in between my bed sheets. The next day I would walk into the lunchroom excited to share my comics and cartoon strips with my friends. At 13 I vowed that I would attend an art college, admittedly I was torn between a career in visual arts and a life as a musical theater performer.
tumblr_o54kl1ggwe1vnsl06o5_1280Fast forward 8 years to my Sophomore year of art school and you would have found me still awake past the strike of midnight, furiously working on my next piece for critiques. This became a common practice, working all night and then finding 2 hours to nap before it was time to make the commute into the city. Art school was my childhood dream. I kept pushing myself harder and harder until the very end. After I graduated, I spent a good half hour staring at the honor cords I had earned from my four years as an Emerging Leader of the Arts Scholar. In that moment I finally released all the feelings from the stress and anxiety of the past four years with tears streaming down my face.
Up until that point I had viewed my life as a series of hurdles I had to jump in order to reach happiness. I will be happy once I am a great painter, I will be happy once I complete my thesis, I will be happy once I land that art job.  These are the thoughts that went through my mind until that point. Now I am trying to be present, keeping in mind that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. Choosing to be happy and to live in the moment, I can enjoy life so much more than before when I was always looking towards the next milestone.

tumblr_o9b5f61oxa1vnsl06o1_540What do you do to de-stress after or during a long, stressful day?

After I'm done work I usually have a long bike ride waiting for me. I channel the big feelings left over from the day into energy for the ride, accompanied by fast punk or metal music to get my blood pumping. When I get home I sometimes listen to more mellow music and sit in the dark with candles or Christmas lights. I also talk to my friends and family. Chances are they have had a stressful day too and we can help each other feel more grounded. And of course I will draw in my sketchbook. When I'm sketching I can slow down the anxious hamster wheels that are spinning nearly 24/7 in my head to focus on making something.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Music has always been a huge inspiration for my work. When I was 14 I once created a graphic novella with a story and characters all based off of Iron Maiden songs. My BFA thesis was a series of illustrations celebrating many of the American music icons that I have come to love. Whether you are tuned into Bone Thugs n' Harmony or Buddy Holly, music can transport you to another world, make you feel the joys and sorrows of someone you may have very little in common with day to day. Music can be a loud voice for the oppressed, it can be a silent confession. Music creates culture, and connects us all.

img_6086I am inspired a lot by my own life's experiences. Some ideas for my comics come from taking difficult feelings I have around navigating the world as a trans masculine non-binary person- and putting in in a light hearted humorous view. These are troubling times for folks who do not identify with their assigned birth gender, with laws being passed to keep us out of bathrooms, and not enough legislature available to protect people's rights to safe housing and employment. My comic Tranpire is an account of a gender nonconforming creature of the night. This vamp is full of spunk and keeps their head & their limp wrist up high, despite being a pariah from the living world, including the LGBT community. Luckily for me I have plenty of people in life that keep me from feeling like a lost soul, I hope my comic can bring a smile to the face of a gender rebel who feels broken down by society. If we can laugh, we can heal.

What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs, etc.)?

I recently discovered a podcast called Season of the Witch on YouTube and it has a lot of great talk for people interested in spiritual magic practice. To me, magic is the willful manipulation of the energy around you- whatever energy you put into the universe you are bound to get back. This is very important in my pursuit of happiness- I am conscious to avoid negative energy being projected onto my future. If you believe you can't win, then you have already lost.

tumblr_od5hypm8fc1vnsl06o1_540What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting their happy hustle journey?

Sometimes the best opportunities are not going to be served to you on a silver platter. One summer I was tasked with finding an internship position. I applied to many of the big names in the industry, my heart was set on landing a spot with a leading toy company. I was met with rejection from every place I applied, until I opened my mind. I searched for small non profit organizations that were in need of a graphic designer. I got accepted not once, but twice. So I carried out two internships as the sole designer on the staff, and learned alot more of my skills and problem solving than I might have otherwise. I made closer relationships, and was more valued on the team as the only person able to get the job done. One position I held even lead to a job that I currently work today.
Don't be afraid to ride your unicycle down the side avenue to success, rather than waiting on the highway breathing in exhaust from all the other SUV's in front of you.

What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

This quote comes from a woman that I met once while waiting outside of a train station. She was complimenting me on my bright pink hair at the time, saying she was excited to turn her grey hair purple as her first dye job at 74. Why was she suddenly confident to make such a bold style choice?

She told me this: "One thing I have learned in my life is that most people only truly care about themselves. They are too busy worrying about their own lives to be truly concerned with what you are doing or how you look. So you should just do what you like. Live like nobody is watching- do whatever you can to be happy and free, because they aren't watching, and they don't care."

tumblr_o54kl1ggwe1vnsl06o1_540In one word, sum up your life as a Happy Hustler.


What are the three core values of your hustle and how do those values relate to your happiness?

My three core values have to be positivity, faith, and hunger.
Finding a space for positive energy in my hustle has taken me far. People recognize me as a good energy to have around, which has opened the way to many opportunities. If you are dredged with negativity, you are bringing everyone else down around with you. It's an unattractive quality and prevents you from having some appreciation for life- even when life is sad. I would be lying if I said I felt happy all the time. Its normal to be sad. Its not a bad thing. A sad time in life can still be enjoyed with some positive vibrations.
12718121_10207925765815833_8281540123234945618_nNext is faith, and no I don't mean George Michael with a choir of angels. I am not sure what my next career move will be, I might return to a position as a substitute teacher, I may be auditioning for a theatrical production for the first time in 4 years. I might make a book that is a total failure, I could spend a long time hustling before I reach the place of security I am seeking. What keeps me going is my faith in the universal powers that be- whatever road I travel, I will be provided for. The next chapter might result in a lot of money, or I could learn a completely new skill. I might even live on another continent for a few months, just to see what is out there for me. Wisdom is the ability to release control, release yourself from the idea of a prescribed route to happiness and success. I have faith that whatever choices I make for my future, the journey will be all the more colorful for it.
tumblr_o54kl1ggwe1vnsl06o4_250And lastly I am and will forever be stricken with hunger. Hunger for change, hunger for growth, hunger that I use to propel me over seemingly impossible obstacles. Someone once told me that they believed musicians create worse music as soon as they have achieved a stature of fame and fortune. If you have nothing else to work towards, then your intentions become less sincere. This is why I stay hungry. To appreciate all that I have worked hard to gain, and to keep my focus on all there is left for me to conquer. I will never settle for satisfaction, I starve for excellence.