(Almost) One Year Later
Next month will be my one year anniversary of not having a full time job. I was laid off in September. At the time, I was confident (perhaps a bit naive) I would find another job soon enough. Everyone else was too.
“You’re a good designer!”
“You’re so good at what you do!”
“Don’t worry, you’ll have no problem looking fo work!”
And here we are… still unemployed.
I think I’ve grown into a very good designer in the past 10 years and can take any design challenge and pretty much run with it to come up with something great.
For now, I want to say that for anyone who has experienced being unemployed because of something that was not our fault or out of our control for any length of time it is anything but a “vacation.” In the past year I feel like I’ve worked the hardest than I ever have and am constantly being challenged. My brain is truly never in a state of relaxation. For anyone who has ever experienced anxiety, you know how exhausting this can be.
Aside from looking for work, I also decided to add to my 10 years of graphic design experience. So, I took a couple classes through BrainStation to learn UX and UI design. These were a good—but I knew I needed some real experience.
I then decided to start my own design studio and started to freelance more regularly. I stay open to any sort of design work—UX and UI included. I love visuals and design and branding and such but I also want to get more UX or UI design experience. I simply let my clients know my skills in a very transparent way and that I am relatively new to UX and UI. With my extensive visual design background, my portfolio, and my openness and willingness, they have seem to appreciate the honesty and thus, trust me to deliver. From this, I’ve gotten a bit more UX design experience.
I’ve also joined a design team of product designers for a contract project to create something great. This has been invaluable in getting product design experience.
Ok, these things are all great. I’m doing things. But I still don’t have a job and I live in the world. I need a job.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t growing more and more frustrated by the day but I am trying to stay positive alongside continuously putting in the work.
On that staying positive thing though—here’s my life-long hack:
This whole past year, I’ve prioritized and maintained my health and fitness by sticking to a strict weightlifting program and continuously showing up, even in such weird and sometimes dark times. Why? Because, for me, not being confident in the gym equates to not being confident outside of it.
It keeps me strong, mentally and physically, and teaches me how to persevere and work hard. (And of course, those exercise endorphins never hurt either).
If you’re exhausted, not confident, and unhappy, it will show in your job search and creative work. If you’re confident and mentally tough despite your situation that, too, will show.
This past week I was given a cue for my lifts (Olympic style weightlifting) at the gym. It’s not a new quote —I’m not sure who even said it originally.
More than anything this means to stop overthinking so much. Focus on one or two things at a time and master those. Then add a couple more things. Eventually, my lifts will become more effortless and I’ll be less overwhelmed with all the things I need to do properly every time I approach the barbell.
In terms of my career, eventually, I’ll have done a lot without even realizing. And because of all these little things I’ve done, I know it will pay off—soon.