When all else fails, do something that you love.
Well, I’ve had my fair share of failure lately. It seems that 2013 as a whole has been a failure with the negative far outweighing the positive. I don’t want to come across as pessimistic, so I tend to put out “happy vibes” through sharing the little nuggets of joy in the mundane to lift my spirits. But as a whole, this year has been less than desirable.
I know one’s identity shouldn’t be solely found in one’s work, but it’s hard to carry on polite conversation when one of the first ritual questions asked after the initial “How are you?” is “So what do you do?” Dread. “Oh, I’m a graphic designer” is usually met with “Cool! Where do you work?” The “I freelance for now” is the best cover-up I could muster, albeit partially true, instead of blurting out “I’m currently looking for a job full-time, attending countless interviews, but always come up short. The ‘runner-up’ never gets the job, and there’s always someone better than me that does. Each subsequent call-back gives me just enough hope that my pathetic unemployed state might improve, until the ‘but we have other applicants that are a closer match to the specific requirements of this position’ jargon dashes those dreams against the proverbial rocks”.
How’s that for an answer?! Yeah, “I freelance for now” is a whole lot easier and avoids the wide-eyed look of concern and horror of unsuspecting victims just looking for a polite and superficial 2 minute chat.
Back to my opening statement. When all else fails, do something that you love. I love graphic design, honestly I do. I may not be the best at it, I realize, or even the second best, but one thing that I have is a creative mind and a willingness to learn and improve. Throw me a challenge and I’m up for it. Unfortunately, in this competitive field, true skill is measured by a quick glance at an online portfolio, a list of LinkedIn badges and accomplishments and a timed mock-up test.
As a side note, I’m not sure if companies purposely throw curveballs at the applicant taking such tests during job interviews, but I’ve come across quite a few obstacles such as:
- Default shortcut keys that have been disabled, causing the candidate to go to the toolbar for any and all Photoshop modifications and tools, wasting precious time.
- A Windows 8 operating system with double screens (I honestly haven’t used Windows since Windows XP 2003). As with the above issue, most shortcut keys are different, and rolling the mouse too far over to the right opens up the 2nd screen. Certain Windows keyboard keys which are shortcuts keys on the Mac cause the current program to hide and the desktop to be revealed. Learn as you go, fun!
- A dysfunctional mouse that jumps all over the screen at random times, breaking concentration and messing up layouts. Also, this computer had “hot corners” where if the mouse goes to a corner, all open windows and programs pop up at the centre of the screen. Therefore, a randomly moving cursor jumping to the corner frequently causes much frustrations!
- A broken chair which would not raise past the height of a kid’s chair, so that my hands ended up on the keyboard at shoulder height. At least it forces good posture!
- An interviewer that, in the span of the 15 minute meeting, literally answered a phone call, replied to multiple text messages and had a conversation with another employee in the hall who knocked on the door. All while I was answering his questions. Really makes you feel valued!
With the scope set-back and frustrations, I’ve strongly considered switching careers, although to be quite honest, I don’t really have a plan B and I hate quitting. I’ve dedicated my education and career pursuits to one field, and if no opportunity materializes, how long should one clutch at one’s dream before the realization hits that it inevitably won’t work out? I’ve been wrestling with this notion and it’s honestly heartbreaking and completely humbling. No one appreciates admitting failure, and the perfectionist in me hates conflict and unsolvable problems. My hard-working and dedicated side holds fast to the “never give up” mantra, but the realist in me reminds me that the bills won’t pay themselves. A true mental and emotional tug-of-war!
Thus far, I have no answers and no resolution to this open-ended rhetoric, simply a thesis statement and facts. All the components to a proverbial essay, minus the conclusion. As 2013 draws quickly to a close, my hope is that my “something that I love” produces a fruitful opportunity, or that my DNA and goals can be quickly altered to find a new passion.