Redefining Work

MARCH 24, 2013

I would never call myself an entrepreneur or even casually imply that I have the slightest bit of latent entrepreneurial spirit. I’m a path more traveled kind of a girl. It is this reality that makes the fact that I now run my own small calligraphy and illustration studio all the more unbelievable.

When it came to college and career, I followed the rule book established by earlier generations. It was what I saw modeled in exemplary fashion by my parents—study hard, get good grades, get a good job, work hard, get your dream job, enjoy success. What’s not to like?

Alas, as I would learn the hard way—there was plenty. To my surprise and disappointment, corporate career success didn’t spell happiness or fulfillment for me. I tried for seven years to love it, but after a particularly miserable experience in what should have been my dream job (the benefits! the salary! the title!), I did something so not me, and so not according to the rules. I quit.

From here the journey of reshaping my definition of work began. I knew I loved crafting and creating art, but never allowed that to shape my idea of what work could be…’till now. Deciding that I needed a clean break after leaving my job, I gave myself six months to take as many art classes as my little heart desired. You name it, I took it—pottery, knitting, figure drawing, screen printing, letterpressing, calligraphy, terrarium making (yup, terrarium making). I met like-minded people who were taking creative risks and encouraged me on my adventure. I had time to cook more, explore the city, stress less, and be truly present in my life. This time gave me the perspective I had lost in my earlier attempts to conform and allowed me to redefine what work could be.

So at the end of this free-spirited class-taking time, I began a new kind of job search.  One that didn’t involve plugging “production manager” into the search bar. I soon realized I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for on careerbuilder.com and timidly began the work of starting my own creative business. It started with a business plan loosely sketched out on pages of colored construction paper—orange for project ideas, pink for goals, blue for next steps, green for sketches. During the six months that would follow I turned these ideas into a website, began building a portfolio, started a blog, and in a move that scared me to my core…went live on the ever public world wide web. I first sent the site to a few trusted friends, then to my parents, and then, well, it was just out there. I slowly built up my portfolio, began working with clients and collaborating with other creatives. Before I knew it…I was doing “it”, my dream job.

Now I am working harder than I ever have, and constantly scaling a daunting learning curve. But I’m doing what I’m passionate about.  It is exciting, challenging, and everything that work you love is supposed to be.

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2 COMMENTS

  • Good for you for following your heart instead of the path well traveled! Reading this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me, I am currently weighing out the idea of leaving a Fortune 200 company to start my own (much smaller) venture. Its great to hear that I’m not the only one crazy and brave enough to do it!

  • nicora gangi 4 years ago

    I am SO blessed that you are my family !
    I cheer you on as one who also ventured beyond the coloring lines.
    I LOVE YOU!!