September 12, 2010

Good to know.

The offers began coming last week.

Not for Jrex. For me.

It happened after I'd shown them some quick type studies I'd done the night before. The two execs in the room, Kind Big Idea Guy (K-BIG) and Tall Exec had traveled from Detroit and LA respectively. We were trying to slam together six BIG ideas in two weeks. They immediately started to give me feedback: liked one of the typefaces, liked the version with this and that, but could I mix that with the other? Then Tall Exec stopped, "I'm so sorry. These look really good, I'm sorry to jump in like that."

I shrugged, "I'm not a design diva, I just want to get it done and your feedback is good."

He looked shocked, "Do you want to move to LA?! I've got a great job for you."

K-BIG jumped in, "No way, I've got dibs since her husband is interviewing in Ann Arbor. How large a house do you want? I'll call my realtor."

I laughed at both of them and we kept digging into the project.

It's so weird. I'm doing all this ambitious seeming stuff, but I just don't care that much. I get invested in each project and I've TOTALLY made this one happen to the detriment of my body, eyeballs and that poor stranger in the cold, lonely bed, but my identity isn't in being the best designer of all time. I want to do good work, but if we lose this $4.5 million dollar deal, I'll know I did the best I could but otherwise it won't affect me. Even if I get a promotion, I don't care except for the general principle. I want to learn more and be excited about work, but that's for my own sake. I know that this job isn't the be all end all, even though I do get absorbed in my projects.

I keep thinking about what's next. What do I want to do when I'm finally a (poor) doctor's wife? I've got a business model going in my head for package deals for non-profits. Part of the idea is to actually help them pitch me to their biggest donors and help them raise the money to cover my fees. I see that as a small studio with me employing a numbers person and a web developer. Another idea is to go back to school to become a teacher. All I know is that I need to either be directing others to 'make it so' or I need to get out of the agency behemoth and get back to having 'just a job'.

I feel like I've gone far enough down this path to know that I could be a big designer. Win some awards, travel the world, yada yada. Yet it's just not meaningful enough to sacrifice the people in my life for work, no matter how interesting. I've got to get smaller and reconnect with LIFE.

It's definitely cool to know that I was able to jump off the deep end on this project and complete 'the Avatar of RFPs' as one of the participants labeled it, but at the end of the day? It's ideas for parties for some of the world's richest people. Fun and interesting, but not profound. I like not having regrets and this is helping me to check "Big Deal Designer" off my list. I've seen the cost, and though I don't want to pay to play, it's really cool to know I could have. Makes it easy to walk away.

Even if we move to Ann Arbor, I don't see myself taking him up on his offer. (Jrex is off to interview there this week!)


Liz said...

I'm so impressed with what you've accomplished and, no less so, with your comfort level in terms of knowing what you want and being able to walk away -- comfortably and confidently -- from great offers to satisfy your needs and goals. You've definitely pursued design very cleverly and from enough different angles to have informed yourself very well. Kudos to you for setting yourself up to have those experiences and for learning so much from them -- few people manage to do both those things.

But what if you and Jrex end up in NYC where there are big financial pressures that probably would make it very tough for you to pursue the preferred job path while still having the means to make home what you want it to be? I predict that NYC will not be in your future...Go where your soul tells you to go!

Aimee said...

Way cool that 2 big execs were "fighting" over you. That's awesome. :-)

Anonymous said...


It's wonderful that you're appreciated; even more wonderful that you know the scene and know yourself so well that you can -- like Liz says -- comfortably and confidently walk away.

As for your future prospects -- the closer you get to doing God's will in your life, the less money there will be. At first. Remember in your growing up --

At first your Mother and I had no money. When you were four -- and you realized our poverty -- you once picked up a pair of flip flops at a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and asked your Mother, "Mom, can we buy these for me sometime?"

Your Mom looked at the price -- 10 cents -- and announced triumphantly, "Christie, we can buy these for you right now!"

Growing up in poverty was good for you -- and excellent for your brother. Had I been a Third Street Attorney making $100, $200, or $300 an hour, we would have been living way out in the Eastern burbs and you and your brother would have waltzed into Shillitos and demanded whatever caught your eye.

Yet, remember also that by the time you were in high school, we were quite comfortable financially.

When you seek the LORD's will and follow it -- at least in the US -- then the funds also seem to follow. (Yet, again and again, I've seen it not happen when people made foolish decisions, were financially irresponsible, or failed to follow sound advice. But they confidently expected that the LORD would bail them out.) This following of God's will is tricky. You have to keep checking your bearings -- and be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.

But, I'm confident that you can do it. And that in your new home, the LORD indeed wants to bless you.