It was my birthday on Monday, and this week, I felt old. Not age old, not even where did those crows feet come from old. I felt technology old. This whole Instagram Stories thing had me spinning for a minute. You know how you always hear your parents and grandparents talk about not understanding the apps and the social media and whatever else the kids are using these days? I don’t think our generation will suffer from not knowing or understanding how technology products change. But perhaps we’ll suffer from deciding if we want to use them.
More on that in a second, but all this to say I’ve been having a minor work existential crisis lately. Oh, not to worry, the studio’s not going anywhere and I’m not abandoning the blog (we’ve been over that! And it’s Thursday!). But I’ve run my own business for nearly 5 years now, and as the summer rolls by and we head into fall and — yikes! — a new year, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I want the studio and its work to evolve. After almost half a decade, and at this phase in the lifetime of a small business, it feels natural. And yet I wonder: will I grow tired of running my own shop? Would I enjoy agency or in-house work? Should I build my own (small) agency? Should I do something else entirely, like in a completely different industry? Or is this all just a phase because I need a vacation?
I mentioned earlier in the year that I was trying to take some time off in the summer to dedicate solely to reflecting and thinking. Yeah, that didn’t go exactly as planned. So in July, I decided to close my client queue for the rest of 2016. I’d already accepted projects through the end of October, and decided that was all I wanted to do for the year. Mama was tired, and I realized the only way I could truly carve out time to figure things out — to grow professionally, truthfully — was to step away for a minute. While I’m accepting new clients for 2017 (hey, hit me up here if you want to work together!), I’m doing so in a slow, deliberate way, that’s focused more on my excitement and passion about a project.
I’ve also been thinking I need to find a mentor. Do you have one? Part of what I hope to do during downtime this fall is find other local designers, agencies, and organizations where I can connect with other creatives. I came to the design space in kind of a roundabout way (via my blog), and I think one key way to help me think about my path within the industry is to talk to others who are in it. Any advice on finding and working with a mentor (and not completely creeping them out upon initial introduction) is definitely welcome.
All this rambling to say, I’m kind of excited about my work existential crisis. I think the idea of change, whether big or small, can feel scary, but I’m also wise enough now to know that things will always work out. The last time I was at a Point A in my early/mid twenties, it felt so daunting, and I would torture myself with worry and pressure to find my way forward. That pressure still creeps in now, but I see it more clearly, and instead of pretending like it’s not at the party, I sort of roll my eyes at it and say, “Dude, Pressure. Chill.”
And in some instances, I give it major side eye. By now you’ve probably heard about this Instagram Stories business. I’ve been on Snapchat for a while, and it is the only social media account I’ve ever kept private. I actively chose to only allow certain people to follow my snaps, and I loved it that way. It was a no pressure social media zone, which was a complete joy. With Instagram Stories, I immediately felt pressure. To edit myself, my life, what I share, how it looks, all that bullshit. Did you feel similarly, or did you love it? It’s been interesting seeing the variation in reactions. I think future iterations will address the minimal control over privacy/user settings, but I hate the idea that anything posted there is available to all of your followers and the public at large…unless you take the time to individually select who can and can’t see your stories. Which I feel pressure to do, because people seem to really like Instagram Stories, and it won’t surprise me at all if people go back to relying on Snapchat for its original, most popular use (insert eggplant emoji here).
But something struck me in the language Instagram used to introduce Stories: “With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day. Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too.”
JFC. Maybe I am getting old, but increasingly, I do not feel the need to share as much as I
can want throughout the day. I don’t want to share my highlights AND everything in between, too, with anyone and everyone. And needless to say, but I definitely don’t worry about overposting, like, ever. Sometimes I worry that this increased desire for privacy definitely means I need to find another career. Huh.
Anyway, thanks for reading all my work ramblings from today. I hope I can leave you with the knowledge that evolving is natural and wonderful. And, that even if you find success in something, if it’s not working for you in one or many ways, you can address it head on — even blowing it all up if you want to. My dear friend Ashley sent me this poem a couple weeks ago, and I really love it. It’s applicable to anyone who’s searching or on a journey, whether personal or professional, at any stage in life. I hope you like it:
Old Maps No Longer Work
by Joyce Rupp
I keep pulling it out –
the old map of my inner path.
I squint closely at it,
trying to see some hidden road
that maybe I’ve missed,
but there’s nothing there now
except some well-travelled paths.
They have seen my footsteps often,
held my laughter, caught my tears.
I keep going over the old map
but now the roads lead nowhere,
a meaningless wilderness
where life is dull and futile.
“Toss away the old map,” she says
“you must be kidding!” I reply.
She looks at me with Sarah eyes
and repeats, “toss it away.
It’s of no use where you’re going.”
“I have to have a map!” I cry,
“even if it takes me nowhere.
I can’t be without direction.”
“But you are without direction,”
she says, “so why not let go, be free?”
So there I am – tossing away the old map,
sadly fearfully, putting it behind me.
“Whatever will I do?” wails my security.
“Trust me” says my midlife soul.
No map, no specific directions.
No “this way ahead” or “take a left”.
How will I know where to go?
How will I find my way? No map!
But then my midlife soul whispers:
“There was a time before maps
when pilgrims travelled by the stars.”
It is time for the pilgrim in me
to travel in the dark,
to learn to read the stars
that shine in my soul.
I will walk deeper
into the dark of my night.
I will wait for the stars,
trust their guidance,
and let their light be enough for me.