Submission — Chris Mongeau

Guts And Courage

29. November 2015 — MYP No. 19 »My Protest« — Text & Photo: Chris Mongeau

Protest to me has always been about my lifestyle. I realized at a young age that I didn’t necessarily want to find a career after finishing university and just stick with that for the rest of my life. I’ve always made travel and photography my main focus in life, but even now, I still don’t look at it like a job. I would be carrying my camera with me wherever I go, no matter what, even if I never made another dime with it in my life.

When you try to explain to people that you don’t really have a career, they don’t always understand what you mean. It has become so engrained in society’s mindset to work 40, 50, sometimes 60 hours a week at a job that they don’t have any real interest in. I’ve worked mundane jobs like that in the past, and the result on someone with creative drive and passion is terrible. For a long time, I lost all motivation to pick up my camera. I stopped seeing the world the way I used to, and eventually I had to quit that job and give up the stability of a steady paycheck in order to be happy.

I see my life now to be a protest against what is considered normal. It’s not the most radical type of lifestyle I could live, and I usually see it as a quite reassignment from the path of no resistance that society puts in front of it’s youth. In the last six years, I’ve been through 48 states and 14 countries, and it never would have happened if I decided to be practical about my life decisions. I leave home and follow opportunities whenever they come, even if there’s no chance they’ll lead to any kind of monetary payout.

I have no interest in stability. I don’t have a “real job,” and if I can manage to live my whole life that way, I’ll die happy. The artists and writers I look up to were penniless in their lifetimes, and most of them went through the higher education system and could have easily just taken jobs to make money and be comfortable. Too often, as young adults, people get pushed into what is considered practical, rather than what they love to do. Making a career out of art is never practical, but it’s always worthwhile.

When someone decides they want to be an artist, they are in a way taking part in a protest that has been happening for thousands of years. It takes guts and courage to say to yourself and the world that the way you perceive life and create art is worth something.

It’s something I’ve personally struggled with for a long time—what gives me the right to not punch a time clock every week for a paycheck? You have to give yourself the right, because no one in this world will ever give it to you.