Last week I started working 3 days a week for a studio that I’ve been doing freelance work for. 20 hours a week through the month of September. It’s been really great to be back in an office, interacting with real people, and getting a paycheck a little more regularly. It’s also been a strange switch. I’m back to a schedule now, meaning I have to actually get up in the morning, think about appropriate work clothes, pack a lunch, and attempt to be on time. I had forgotten how tiring it is to actually sit at a desk for hours straight, and my eyes are really showing the wear of it. The past several days my eyes have taken turns being incredibly bloodshot and tired. It’s a great way to show up to work.
I’m really enjoying this opportunity and yet am so shocked at how quickly I can fall behind in the work environment. It’s only been 10 months since I was at a desk job and yet, I feel the change of schedule hugely. I also have incredibly tight deadlines, which is great for my creativity but adds to the stress. I’m pretty sure I didn’t ever have such tight deadlines at SCLE, but so far thankfully I’ve made them here. It’s been a good feeling to have something productive to do 3 days a week, although the house is not looking so good and Mark and I actually ran out of some much needed clean clothing yesterday. I’m still figuring out the balance of work and home stuff. It’s nice to feel useful again. And yet, it is difficult to balance that with the knowledge that this is temporary.
All this work waiting that I’ve had since I got married and moved has really lead me to realize how job focused our culture is. I’ve been amazed at how many people’s first question to me is “what do you do?” and then followed by “where do you work?” Actually, worse than that, has been the drop in conversation when I’ve said I’m working from home, or I’m an independent designer, or I’m looking for a position. I constantly get the impression that I suddenly lost value and interest when I “confessed” that I don’t have a job. Lately, it has been worse. Several people will ask “have you found a job yet?” and then follow it with a brilliant idea that I should apply for secretarial work at some place and then maybe I’ll be promoted to a design position or something else. Coming up with pleasant responses to this has been difficult. My head usually follows a train of thought similar to: “Hmm, that definitely wouldn’t work in the design world. And oh, that makes me feel great, as you are basically saying I must not be good enough for anyone to be interested in as a designer, so perhaps I should look for something else. Forget about that Design degree I worked so hard for and oh, it couldn’t possibly be that the economy sucks right now and no one is capable of hiring.” Thankfully I’ve successfully kept these thoughts to myself, but I’m beginning to feel as if I’m not allowed to not have a job unless I’m a stay-at-home mom, which we’re definitely not ready for and I’m definitely not sure I want to give up design when we are. I was thinking about Spain the other day and how the first questions people ask you there are how your family is. I miss that. Why are we so focused on what you do and rank your value according to that? There is so much more to a person than what they can do.
Well, for now at least, I have an accepted answer to the questions. And, I’m working on that continued patience as apparently I’m supposed to be in temporary stuff for a while. I enjoy it, the insecurity just gets to me every once in a while. I need to remember that my value however does not lie in whether or not I have an acceptable job. But, there’s a little mailer brochure calling to me right now which desperately needs to be finished before 5. Off I go, little designer that I am…