Staying True

Trusting Your Gut

I mentioned that I had a pretty rough summer when it came to work. It was an anxious time for me. I was not sure where I could find consistent work. Near the end, some projects did come through, thankfully. But it really put into mind the gravity of finding more clients.

There was so much to think about: perhaps going back to school, taking online classes or finding a part-time job to help offset the dry months as a designer. I was not sure what I needed to do, but cleaning up my portfolio was a start. Yet life has its ways of pulling you one way and then another. The chaos of being in freelance was getting overwhelming. I wanted a sense of security and order, a routine to rely on, so I said yes to taking on a part-time retail job.

I thought it would be for the best. It would give me time to improve my communication skills and socialize. Something that is not always mentioned in freelancing is that is can get quote lonely. You are trusted to work on your own and sometimes in groups. In my case, my clients are in different cities and provinces. I felt confident that this retail job could help balance my anxieties while getting paid in the process. I tried to see the positives of this new situation and thought it would not hurt to at least try and see what happens.

It was only a week in and I felt that I had just walked from one chaotic please into another. I was expecting this. I knew that you had to crash and burn at the beginning. So I was not sure what this all meant. The people I worked with were extremely kind and helpful. The work itself included above and beyond customer service and consultations for skin products. I was impressed by the quality of service and care there. So why did I feel like this was not for me?

After some reflection, I think it was because I knew that I could not commit the same way my co-workers were committed in their roles. The kind of knowledge and service they provide, yes, can be taught and through training and time, I am sure I could have gotten it. Moreover, the support of the team was exceptional. But I felt that I was not staying true to who I was and my purpose. If anything, their genuine care for their customers inspired me to rethink how I can improve with my design clients.

I am still wrapping my head around it. But I think I made the right decision when I told the manager that I could no longer proceed with the training. I knew myself, and this was not for me at this time. It is not always easy to say what you really think and feel. But at the end of the day, you need to do what is right for you, because your decisions can affect others, too.

For example, I did not want to waste their time and effort in training me. The training was quite extensive in order to give proper consultations and recommendations. Also, the customer service demanded that you could be flexible and professional in any situation. I appreciated what they were offering. But I knew that it was better to decline earlier on than to have them invest so much into someone who would not stay committed in this position.

I was afraid to tell my friend who had recommended me the job. I did not want to disappoint her or make her look bad in front of her superiors by not going through. But she was very understanding. It was not the result we wanted, but it is more important to be honest and to speak the truth.

No Way Going Back

So truth be told, I am back to my original room of chaos with definitely more personal pressure to succeed. There is a lot to sift through ad figure out. And sometimes, what we think we need is not always it. I had worked so hard to get to where I am now, that to stray from this path was a red flag.

I am just happy that I listened to my gut. When you get to really know and care for yourself, you start to ask the question: Is this for me right now? Is this how I work best? Will this make me happy? And as crazy as it sounds, despite my worries and doubts, this experience showed me that there is not anything else that I would rather do and be than to design as a Branding and Graphic Designer.

Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.
— George Halas

Of course, there are still issues about a steady income, networking, marketing and building a clientele. It is very true to figure out if freelancing and if entrepreneurship of for you. It is not for everyone. You have to hustle every day. You have to put yourself out there. You are constantly growing and the chaos is never ending.

Yet, it is where I thrive. The fine line where I am putting my skills to the test and growing from the experiences and mistakes is where I want to be. There is risk. I am losing out on making money, I am constantly thinking of what I am going to do to make this work. But I know that if the result matches with my efforts and hours put into my career, my return in investment will with worthwhile.

I cannot go back when there are opportunities in my field that I have not tried out yet. Currently, I am looking into the possibilities of interning or offering my design services to design agencies. I never had the courage to send them my resume without much experience. But with a couple years under my belt, maybe this is my time. Another is reaching out and approaching to local businesses about my services.

Money can be made. But the time you spend making it is yours. Once you know your worth and what your skills and talents are, stay focus and stay true to yourself and your goals. Continue to struggle in your personal chaos and make things work. If you cannot do it alone, ask for help. If you do not know something, ask. Find out where you are lacking and fix it. Where you think you are lacking in skills, invest in learning.

My fear of wasting other people’s time is not only a courtesy for others, but also for myself. We may think that we have all the time in the world. But that is not true. Do not waste (too much of) your time in something that does not make you alive. I am not saying not to try out new things. I did, in this case, despite some feedback from family and friends that saw it as a setback. Rather make your work matter for you.

It was a crazy week for sure to refocus on what I need to do. We can struggle through it. I think that is the only way I can. This is how I learn. But when you come to a point when you question yourself about where you are and where you want to be, be honest. Care for yourself enough to do right by you. ■

Patricia Atienza