Work Thoughts

view at fort funston | san francisco, ca | Image by @victoriamstudio

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.

 

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20 Comments

  1. 8.4.16

    Girl… I feel exactly the same way! Old. I am also realizing how much time I waste being on my phone. I, too, have a SnapChat account just so I can see what others are doing. But I’ve never posted anything because I already spend too much time looking at what other people are doing! And I’m old. I’m old enough to realize that with a full-time job and in order to GSD, then I can’t be on my phone any more than I am now. And I do want to keep some things private. Maybe my mind will change later on down the line, but those are my thoughts for now.

    I too might need a mentor soon – and I will actually send you an e-mail about that. Love that photo and the poem!

    • 8.5.16

      Yeah, man. I’ll admit I’m on my phone a LOT, usually looking at articles. But sometimes I’ll look up and be like OMG, I just spent two hours sitting here reading. It’s time to go LIVE.

  2. 8.4.16
    Maggie said:

    I’m only a few years older than you and I don’t Snapchat or plan to participate in IG Stories. I’m also minimizing my time on FB due to increased agitation regarding political posts.

    • 8.5.16

      Makes sense! Though I totally hide those people who blow up my feed with ridiculous political posts (ok, I’ll admit, usually from the opposing viewpoint ;) ).

  3. 8.4.16
    Lisa said:

    I only recently found out what the eggplant emoji means so… yeah.

    Also, I think you’d be interested in Nathalie Lussier’s spiral staircase theory. The basic idea is that whenever you feel like you’re back at Point A, you’re actually a level higher on the spiral staircase, with all the experience of the previous level to work from. http://nathalielussier.com/podcast/081-charts-spiral-staircase

    • 8.5.16

      Bahaha, really? Do I even want to know how you found out? #podcasttopic

      I COMPLETELY agree with that theory, so much so that I don’t think it’s a theory at all, I’m pretty sure it’s fact. Point “A” definitely feels completely different this time aroumd.

  4. 8.4.16
    Julie said:

    Love the poem – the pressure I put on myself to always know “what’s next” and to always have plan is something I am working really hard to let go of. I find myself increasingly annoyed by social media and often temporarily delete the apps from my phone out of either irritation, frustration at my mindless scrolling or the negative comparative thoughts (“Look how perfect/cute/easy he/she has it…”) it can spark in me. But I always cave and reload the apps a few days later.

    • 8.5.16

      I’m glad you liked it! I read it three times through when my friend sent it to me. I think the sentiment is just beautiful. I know what you mean about having such a push/pull relationship with social. I get annoyed too, but also feel major FOMO if I don’t check in for a few days. But then I check in and didn’t really miss all that much…same shit, different day, you know?

  5. 8.4.16

    I’m so frustrated with Instagram, which in the grand scheme is silly, I know. I miss the chronological feed — last night I noticed some of the images I was seeing first were 15 hours old, and some of the accounts I love the most had images I’ve never seen in my feed. The stories have added a whole new level to it all. By the time I’ve scrolled through the stories (there are so many!) I don’t feel like scrolling through more to see photos. There are some people I love following on Instagram but don’t like following on Snapchat; I wish I had the option to choose the stories I follow. I’ve actually started unfollowing some accounts that I’ve loved for a long time because, although I love the images they post, I don’t need to see every detail of their day. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out — maybe I’m just adverse to Insta-change? I truly miss the days of seeing beautiful images in my feed as they’re posted from the people I choose to follow. :)

    • 8.5.16

      I feel like Insta had an identity crisis. Slash, a Facebook-bought-us crisis. Despite what users loved about the app, like Facebook, the ultimate goal is profitability, so they’ve definitely built out features that support advertising more so than content. Don’t even get me started on the UI of the new horizontal feed…like, how did someone not build in settings that let you control that (or at least, who appears there!).

      Interestingly, talks with fellow blog buddies this week has shown that most of their followers want to stay with them on Snapchat. I’ve heard people talking about using IG Stories to share the “old” types of Instas people would share — actual quick snapshots of the day. Then, they’ll still use Snap for those behind the scenes things, longer monologues, etc. Interesting.

  6. 8.4.16
    Kelsey M said:

    I agree with you on Instagram Stories – do we really need another place to detail our entire days? I have Snapchat and I post on it myself every so often, but I check other people’s stories everyday. There are people on Snapchat I would never follow on Instagram and vice versa. Plus, I follow a lot more people on Instagram than I do on Snapchat, so Insta-Stories are pretty overwhelming! I feel like Instagram is more curated and Snapchat is more laid back and spontaneous. And so far what I’ve seen is Instagram Stories are prettier versions of Snapchat stories.
    I’ve found myself looking at some Insta-Stories and thinking “oh I wish I had their Snapchat, I would love to follow them on there!” But I don’t think going forward I will use Insta-Stories at all.

    • 8.5.16

      I mean, I feel like Insta will HAVE to address how overwhelming the Stories feed is, if you’re following more than about 20 people. Right? Since the first day, I haven’t really checked in to anyone’s Instagram story. It’s just not what I want to use Insta for.

  7. 8.5.16
    Jes said:

    Thank you for sharing! I too, feel overwhelmed and I am just a few years older. Though I am aware of the benefits, connections, and community that social media brings, sometimes it’s a scary world. Instagram, particularly, is indeed smoking mirrors and now I feel somewhat obligated to share even more. In the past few months, I decreased my posts, due to the fact that I do not feel the need to share. If people really want to know, they will ask me where I went, my mood and what I am wearing.

    • 8.5.16

      Yeah, the pressure that has built around Instagram is insane!! I know it’s common for bloggers to spend an hour getting a photo ready to post. Ugh. I decreased my post too over the last few months — too much effort, too much pressure, no real dividends for my particular business model.

  8. 8.5.16
    Cheryl said:

    Thank you for sharing the poem Victoria. It definitely resonates with me right now as I do some soul searching as I to what I want to do with my life.

    As for social media, I think I might be the last 30-something year old who does not have Instagram or twitter or snapchat or really anything except for an old FB account that I don’t use and I’m cool with that. I really don’t think that 10 years from now, I’ll look back and say, “Gee, I regret not getting an Instagram account.” Sometimes I feel that we are so busy documenting our lives and posting it for the world to see that we forget to live in the moment.

    • 8.5.16

      I’m so glad to hear that, Cheryl! I just loved it the first time I read it. Read it again in a few days…I think it gets better every time. Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  9. 8.5.16
    Lauren said:

    Twitter and Snapchat are the only forms of social media that I use. I really enjoy following bloggers on Snapchat because it’s more genuine & seems real. I stop following anyone on SC if they use it to promote sponsored items. I try to limit using too many social media platforms because I find it to be overwhelming. Happy Belated Birthday, by the way!

    • 8.5.16

      I agree. I always felt like Snapchat was “friend TV,” and I love it that way! Thanks for the bday wishes too! :)

  10. 8.11.16
    Rose said:

    I have a little quote written on a post-it taped to my computer that says “For everything to go well, one must always change everything; it stimulates creativity.”

    • 8.11.16

      This is not helping my personality quirk wherein when I get the itch to make a change, I tend to blow up my entire life and start anew. ;)

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