I believe that life affects the work you do, constantly.
In the last five years, my life has gone through so much. As a recent graduate, I was eager to work, and show myself I learned something in so many years of schooling. I was hungry for knowledge and feelings of validation. I wanted to become “someone”. Definitely looked for approval… from peers, family and most importantly myself; and I got a job that let me get exactly that. I was very happy with my job, I felt like I was going somewhere; like I was mastering and soaking up all the knowledge I could from everyone. I was like a sponge. I believe it was after two years or so, when my personal life took a hit. I was engaged and then… I wasn’t. It was incredible hard, I was barely creating anything outside work. I was depressed and looking to get my head right. After many screw ups and with amazing friends, I finally did. Met more awesome people on the way, and focused A LOT on work. I got promoted to Team Leader Assistant, the first step into transitioning into a management role in a design team. Surprisingly, I was very happy with it. I was learning to connect with people through art in a special way. I noticed I had much to say and that I liked teaching others, the same way I was taught when I started. I loved working with other designers. It motivated me to create. I did a lot of blogging then, I had a lot to say and these designers where my main motivation. I cared about them, I wanted them to be better designer and be successful at their jobs. Collaboration came a lot easier than I was hoping.
I was happy. I met a wonderful guy, who is now my husband, and both personal and professional life where heading somewhere. Unfortunately, my job description kept growing and I felt like I needed to keep growing and moving up in order to make changes that meant “real change” in the environment I led; and that meant getting disconnected with the designers and even more with designing. During the same time, my husband proposed and we got married; so we made the decision to move to New Orleans. The epicenter of art, culture and, of course, fun.
What better place for creating than New Orleans! right?
I was jobless for a month; and it was tough. I was bored a lot…and lacked motivation to do anything. Creating did NOT come easy. I was used to creating on a demand basis; and now I could do anything… but instead I did nothing. I planned a lot, I made schedules to write and a calendar with topics I wanted to discuss on the blog, and I couldn’t execute them. It was hard work, and I had no motivation to do it. I wondered so much about my life and career choice, and looked for jobs… Because, to be honest, I wasn’t ready to be on my own; freelance on the side is not the same as freelance as a full time job.
I guess life knew I had to keep learning so I got a job in a small design studio. A 180 from what I knew. Small was an understatement. From working with 100 designers daily I was working with one, the owner. Jobs came everyday and I was producing so much work. I liked the pace, and the type of work. It was so different every time. I learned so much about working with clients, and working to please them. I was exhausted daily. I was learning to think, plan, design, and deliver; while managing my own workload. The first two months of working were a serious adjustment, but I was happy to be busy, and I was creating a lot. During this time, I got a few freelance jobs that required more attention than the one I could give; and so I learned I could do so much… but I also had limits. The more work I had, the more guilty I felt about having less time to spend with my husband. We were recently married and I was spending more time with my computer. I felt like I was missing so much, and the free moments I had I was too tired to enjoy my newly married life. I realized I needed to slow down. And for the first time, I started to wonder if working so much was the way I wanted to spend my young life.
I have to admit, I am a workaholic; not because I want to make more money, but because I love designing. To me, it is barely working. Hours can go by and I forget to eat and that there is life moving around me. I struggled finding a balance between work and family; and felt constantly guilty about it.
Again, I guess life knew I had to keep learning. So, it threw me the biggest curve ball. I did not see it coming for a million years. We had to move to Peru… After a few paperwork shortcomings with immigration, I was back home; in the same room I was for the first eighteen years of my life. Back to square one. Thankfully, I married a super loving, and very smart man; and we decided to make the best of the situation, and travel. We decided that a stop to our hectic life was just what we needed. We were taking a sabbatical.
I had heard a lot of people say this is not just therapeutic, but it gave you perspective on your own life. I was scared about money, but excited that I was going to finally stop. Since graduation all I did was work; and not once I stopped to look back and think about the future. I was married, and what a better way to start a marriage than planning our future? HA! Guess twice. We got pregnant!
Planned? Yes, and no… I mean we have always wanted kids, and since we got married we knew it was an option. We just didn’t think it would happen while we had no jobs and months of travel planned. Like I said, I guess life knows I have to keep learning.
So here I am; writing. Writing to look back. Writing to find the patterns of things I keep learning or that I think I know, but I don’t. Life is funny; and work comes and goes; but the real questions are: Where am I heading? Is it worth it to spend your life working so much? How can I balance my time to make memories with family, and feel professionally fulfilled? How much is too much? How much am I willing to miss? All questions I have no answers for, but that I think a lot about; especially now that I have a baby in my belly.
If you are reading this, please know that struggling is okay; as long as you strive to find your own definition of perfect balance.
Image Source: thriveglobal.com