Take It Easy

Playing it Cool

I would not call myself cool. It is hard to believe that I was ever easy-going. Many experiences in my life left me anxious and self-conscious. I wear my emotions on my face and to compensate that, I try to plan everything ahead of time. But you can not always plan for everything, so when things go beyond my control, I simply try to go with the flow.

There is an inner desire for me to succeed. As I am sure there is this same passion in everyone. But saying it and truly believing it is the difference for those who are successful and those who are not. A couple of weeks ago, I was suddenly apprehensive about everything. I was struggling with lack of projects, time with family and friends, finances, networking, health, and personal commitments. It all came down like a ton of bricks. I did not know how I got into this situation. I never planned for this. But life sometimes has the habit of unraveling things into the best outcomes.

Following that difficult week came this past week, where everything seemed to fall into place: I got a couple of great of great projects to work on projects to work on, I made some new connections in my network ups, and enjoyed hiking trips with friends. Despite failing to establish new habits, such as consistently waking up early and exercising, I am affirmed that success is a process and a mindset. Just because everything is not perfect, does not mean it is not getting better. It is that hope and belief of eventual success that soothes worries and motivates you.

Why I worry is, as a methodical planner, I am afraid I will miss something. Maybe there was something I forgot, or I am lacking in something that I need. I used to plan, but struggled to follow-through. It was not until I experienced working in the industry as a production designer and contract designer, that I overcame those fears. (In some cases, it was either do or die. And since I am not dead, I guess I have done it). I am slowly gaining confidence with every project I complete. The lessons I learn from those experiences are something to be proud of.


Grateful Attitude

I have learned that there are two things that instantly help me when I am feeling down: being thankful and volunteering. I always struggled with giving, because I felt I never had anything or enough to give: not enough experience, not enough expertise. But I knew that I could change that. I just had to find outlets and opportunities. The answer was simple, if I needed experience, I had to go find places that allowed me to get some.

Most, if not all, of my work opportunities were managed by other people through recommendations. That in itself is a blessing. Despite my worries, there were people who recognized my work ethic and passion. I have been able to gain a whole year of design experience. There were times when I thought I would land a full-time position after a contract. Although I did not get those positions, after every contract was another project.

There are so many outcomes in life. We can prepare for a number of them. But the best way to prepare for any result is a grateful attitude. We all have a gift that is worth sharing: our time, talents and treasures.

I can not say that I am cool just yet. There it still so much I have to learn, but I had to recognize these successes - working design contracts, gaining experience and building relationships - are worth celebrating. In short, small successes build great success. I know what it was like to struggle to find work. I accept the work that comes with building a career. And although I am not where I envision to be, I realized that there is a lot to be thankful for until I get there. A grateful attitude is the first step to being cool with anything that comes your way. ■

Patricia Atienza