A personal journey.
Let’s be cliché for a moment, I’m on a journey of self-discovery.
At the end of March, I was given a month’s notice that my contract that didn’t originally have an end date, would cease at the end of April. The day before, I spoke up to my team that I wanted to work on larger projects and do more creative work and less production.
For some reason I felt like if I put in the time and hard work, that I’d be rewarded with having the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. I realize now that’s probably an outdated notion. I’m not sure where that came from, or how I came to believe it. If you are giving your time to a job that you are just working for, and not really doing what you want to be doing. No one is going to ask you if you are doing what you want to be doing.
You have to verbalize, you have to go after it, you need to make those changes. For so long, job after job, I just put in what I was asked. Maybe I got creative on a few projects, maybe I pushed myself here or there — but honestly, I was never working to my potential. It was a job and I was getting paid for my time and producing work. I put food on the table, and paid rent.
Maybe I didn’t think that I could aspire to more, maybe I didn’t think that I was good enough at times… I started thinking about design as work and work alone. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was design. But I didn’t want to leave design, I didn’t want to start a new career. With the exception of storm chasing, volcanology, and plate tectonics … there isn’t a new career path that I could get excited about.
These few months, I’ve stepped back and took time to pull pieces from and for my portfolio to get a sense of the larger picture of what I’ve done and who I want to be. It was very mentally exhausting. I really don’t think about myself ever. I’m always putting others before me. I also realized that we use the word selfish to describe this act. The idea of thinking about myself and what I want from my career and my goals — is considered “selfish”. Which in our society is a negative term, and it shouldn’t be.
A few things I identified that I’d like to do.
- Speak more, inspire others.
1.a. Share my story and talk about the importance of Diversity & Inclusion.
- Personal projects / Experimental projects.
- Be more of a leader.
- Be more of an owner of projects.
- As a result of 1–4, learn and grow as a designer/cultivate myself.
In identifying these things, I realized that I have a platform in AIGA. I applied for a scholarship to attend the 2017 Design Conference. I won a scholarship. I almost didn’t accept it, because I’m currently lacking a full-time job and the scholarship only covered the registration fee (not airfare or accommodations). My excuse for not doing a lot of things is that I don’t have the money. But really it’s more that I would feel guilty doing something for myself. In turn, I would feel selfish.
I thought to myself this negative connotation for selfish needs to stop. I won something, and I’m going to do it. No matter what. So, a thought came to me… I have an echoic memory, so this happens a lot. I heard Honey Daniels (AKA Jessica Alba) from Honey say, “If I can’t earn it, and I can’t borrow it, and I can’t steal it, I could raise it.” And that was how I decided to start a GoFundMe campaign. Not knowing they keep about 10%, looking back, I should have been less impulsive and done more research on crowdfunding platforms.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. The point where I heard those words in my head, echoing — I knew that I was there. I had already shared my personal story and I needed to continue down that path. I shared it with friends, family, put it out there for strangers, and emailed a few professionals that I met prior. I simply asked people to read my story, and if they had it in their heart to donate, to do so. If they couldn’t donate to me, to please share it. I put it out there, it was a horrible time to ask for money, because there were so many disasters happening in the south, and I stated that.
This campaign has taught me that anything is possible if you put yourself out there. If you tell people what you want, what you need, and how you plan on getting there. Most people are good and want to help, but they don’t know — what they don’t know.