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Some life updates:
- Summer 2016 is officially over. It was a good one.
- I reopened my Etsy shop earlier this year and now one of my cards is currently sold in stores & online at Urban Outfitters. I’m still not sure how this happened and what I did to deserve such luck.
- I’m back to freelancing (aka “what am I doing with my life” phase).
- I took a family trip to visit my mom’s family in India (Tangra, a small village in Kolkata, is where both my parents grew up) and I won’t ever forget it.
- I traveled the most this year. California, South Carolina, and a 14+ hour flight to India (with 5+ hour layovers sleeping in the Dubai airport).
- I eat breakfast every morning. A huge change for me.
- I make time to exercise for an hour at least two times a week (and have been keeping it up for the past 7 months).
- I failed to keep up writing on Medium and updating my Tumblr with photos (which is why I am here again re-evaluating what I’d like to turn this into).
- I’m trying to stop comparing my path to everyone else’s because it makes me feel alone and lost.
- Current life motto: Fake it ’til you make it.
“It’s OK” banner handmade by Secret Holiday Co.
It’s the last week of January, another month gone. Fortunately, this month actually felt lived, if that makes sense, but has also been one of my harder months, mentally. Getting stuck in my own head is one of my biggest faults and I’m trying not to get lost in there.
“Don’t think too much. You’ll create a problem that wasn’t there in the first place.”
“Really? It’s already a new year?” One year I hope I’ll stop saying and thinking that and realize how amazing the year was and that it has finally come to a close. This wasn’t that year, but I think it helps to reflect and figure out why and to make the next year more of what you imagined.
I’m more than a week late on resolutions and I don’t typically make resolutions because I believe more in every day, simple goals, so here are my reflections and hopes for 2014, and links to some good articles that hopefully with inspire and push you more.
Worry and anxiety. This year will be about embracing the uncertainty and worrying just a little bit less. The first, full week of 2014 has me filled up with worry and anxiety. Maybe it’s because the Christmas/holiday spirit has ended and it’s a slap of reality, but I hope to not think of it that way (if you haven’t already, this is a good read about ‘hygge’ and why Denmark is the happiest country on earth). I hope to spend each month or each week focusing on the good and letting the bad weigh less on my head and heart. Sometimes it’s hard to stop your heart from beating super fast and your head from racing with a million thoughts but taking a break from what’s worrying you and doing something FUN really helps. If you can work with your hands and create something it is oddly satisfying (even building a puzzle!).
Comparing success. Sucks, doesn’t it? With social media today it’s pretty easy to compare someone’s curated Instagram or Facebook feed to your reality, which is why I’ve been trying to only use those outlets as inspiration and motivation to push myself and give me self confidence in my work. This brainpickings article with the creator of Calvin and Hobbe, Bill Watterson, is a great read and helps me sum up that “there are many kinds of success,” and you need to figure out what works for you.
Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success.
Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
– Bill Watterson
If you’re also looking for some inspiration and motivation The Great Discontent is my go to place to read interviews with some amazing creatives. It also reminds me when I’m feeling alone that everyone’s path is different.
Money. It’s kind of hard to not worry about money or have money be a topic of discussion in this day and age, but I always remind myself of this article by Seth Godin, Thinking About Money, which I posted about before, that helps me deal with my personal expenses and the “how much do you make?” question.
Don’t get caught confusing money with security.
Within very wide bands, more money doesn’t make people happier. Learning how to think about money, though, usually does.
– Seth Godin
Self Judgement. Whether it’s you judging yourself and your abilities or you thinking someone else is judging you. Who cares, right? Easier said than done, easier to tell your best friend, “Who cares!”, when they’re in a similar situation, but when it comes to ourselves it’s hard to take our own advice. It’s hard to get out of our own heads but taking a breath and stepping back, as simple as it sounds, helps to regain your thoughts and remind yourself not to be so hard on yourself. We are our own worst critic, so take a step back to reflect on the situation and remind yourself that everyone’s different.
Defining Yourself. I think this goes hand in hand with why we judge ourselves too harshly, especially when we’re still on a journey trying to figure it out and be OK with who we are. But are you going to let other people define you? I watched this video last night, that Oh Joy tweeted, and you should too.
Being Proactive. It’s great to think positively and reflect on your experience but you also have to take action and be a go-getter in making changes. Within the last two years I feel I’ve really started to pinpoint what it is I’m passionate about and going after it, and it’s the most satisfying feeling. Last night I read this great article on The Great Discontent with Invisible Creature about finding what it is your passionate about and being fully immersed in that culture (which is why it helps to do something you care about, not something that will make you money).
I think the biggest thing for us—and I always go back to our story, because it’s the only one I know—was the niche that we found in terms of design. It’s such a broad, vast, huge world. We get a lot of designers who say, “I like to draw. Where do I start?” There are so many questions to answer before that. What do you love? When there’s downtime, what do you like to do? When you go to the bookstore, what do you gravitate toward?
– Don Clark, Invisible Creature
Last year was my first, full year of freelancing and it had its ups and downs and lots of things I wish I had dealt with better, but now that I have that under my belt, here’s to creating new experiences this year!
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. But no, not in the way you think of “getting lost.” I’ve been getting lost…in my work, and in a good way. I love getting projects where I can’t eat or sleep until I’ve solved the problem, that doesn’t sound exactly healthy, but it’s not something I do a lot of time, which makes it special when a project comes along that makes me feel that way. It makes me feel excited to get the job done and make the deadline. I will blame that for my lack of posts for the past few weeks, but anyway…I thought I’d take the time to reflect and appreciate how things fall into place in life and to always stay positive and active in your pursuits. I really believe that you can’t put all your eggs into one basket. You can’t expect just one thing to satisfy all of your creative energy, your happiness, your motivation, your drive, etc. I’ve learned that when one thing isn’t going right to move on to the next and that other thing will sort itself out along the way. It’s never healthy to expect ONE thing (or person) to solve ALL of your problems or questions in life, or to make you happy. It’s really an accumulation of everything. That way, if one endeavor goes wrong or one person disappoints you you have another endeavor or someone else to turn to give you hope and excitement.
“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
You also have to learn to let go of things you can’t control. If something happened yesterday that made you feel embarrassed, stupid, or crappy, let it go, it happened and you can’t take it back, you just keep moving forward.
The best things in life are meant to be shared.
I knew I had to pick up something from Dana Tanamachi’s limited collection at Target and when I saw this at my local Target I just had to get it, it’s the Best Things Decal. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was (from looking at photos online), but the perfect size for above our couch and I love how big it is, it really stands out in the perfect way! We never got around to hanging up frames on this wall, but I guess it all worked out. This will be such a great back drop for photos.
Here’s a close up. Looks seamless, eh?
As for our process we marked the wall first to give us a general guideline of where we wanted it (I would suggest you mark guidelines for at least the top half, where it should start and end), but we had more trouble getting it smooth and bubble-free, which I think is just the nature of a decal. We had to remove it and reapply the first half a few times, but even after peeling the decal off a few times it still held up and adhered well to the wall. It was our first time using a decal, so we had a little bit of trouble getting it aligned correctly, getting all of the bubbles out, and recovering from the decal getting stuck on itself and ripping at a corner (make sure you’re aware of the curves while you’re peeling the decal off the backing! I think I was too excited. Luckily, the rip is minor). The instructions it comes with suggests you to peel the decal off about 2 inches at a time and smooth out the bubbles as you go, moving from the middle out. Once you get the top portion down the bottom half is a breeze. We’re a bit of perfectionists, so we had to make sure everything looked right.
Tip: Put a blow dryer to the bubbly spots and then continue to smooth outwards, it did the trick.
What do you guys think?
Today marks my 1 year as a full time freelancer. It’s really crazy to think that it’s been a full year that I’ve been working on my own (and I’m still here!). A lot has happened and a lot more that I wish I accomplished, but I can say I did everything the best I knew how and took on things I never imagined I could’ve handled on my own. I’ve had a great deal of guidance from friends and family that have gotten me through the emotional and the business end of things and I couldn’t be more grateful for their endless support and help.
I think what a lot of people don’t realize is how much work being a freelancer (or running your own business) entails. Because I sure didn’t. Before fully committing to freelancing I thought little ol’ me could never find clients and run things on my own and make my own money to pay off my loans and bills, but sure enough I somehow managed and exceeded my expectations by following my gut and drive to keep moving forward (even if that meant paying more taxes!). Sure, freelancing has its perks (not having a boss to answer to, setting your own work schedule, working in your pjs, going out in the middle of day), but at the end of the day all of those things added together can’t even begin to amount to all of the hard work and worrying you go through trying to manage your projects and yourself. For one, I still keep to a strict schedule of my “working hours” and try not to respond or read emails after “working hours” (I think it’s been harder for me to do this than when I was working an office job). I’m also still trying to figure out the down time that comes with freelancing, you know when the work starts to run dry and you’re not entirely sure what to do with yourself besides worry. I definitely need to learn to embrace the calm whenever and however long I can get it.
It’s always good to stop and see how far you’ve gone and how much you’ve accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. The cherry on top for me is I’ve never felt more happy and fulfilled with my “job” and my life. I would’ve loved if a few things worked out a bit better, but I’m learning not to dwell on the failures and just keep pushing and creating.
Here’s a good quote to sum up what I’ve learned in my journey so far:
Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart.
I only recently started reading Seth Godin’s blog (this year, I know where have I been?) and everything he writes about is always relatable to different aspects of your life. He’s such an amazing speaker (I had the privilege of attending his Creative Mornings talk in NY in May) and thinker. Sorry for the vagueness, but that’s the best I can describe as I write this in my 85 degree room in this humid, rainy, gross NY weather.
His latest post on money really got me thinking about the way I’ve been thinking about money lately, especially being a freelancer money doesn’t come in the form of a stable paycheck every month and feeling doubt and worry is a daily thing, especially when you’re new to freelancing. Here are a few key points that really stood out to me:
2. Money spent on one thing is still the same as money spent on something else. A $500 needless fee on a million-dollar mortgage closing is just as much money as a $500 tip at McDonalds.
12. Don’t get caught confusing money with security. There are lots of ways to build a life that’s more secure, starting with the stories you tell yourself, the people you surround yourself with and the cost of living you embrace. Money is one way to feel more secure, but money alone won’t deliver this.
16. In the long run, doing work that’s important leads to more happiness than doing work that’s merely profitable.
Seth Godin on Thinking About Money
I usually keep a post-it note on my desk to help remind myself what my next steps should be when I’m feeling unsatisfied, confused, burnt out, or steering off course.
Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.
Be disciplined. Work hard. Be prepared to hear “no” a lot and don’t care. My dad taught me an important lesson, which is to look at why someone does something rather than what they actually do.
– Oliver Jeffers via The Great Discontent
Pleasure. Flow. Meaning.
– Ping Fu via Creative Mornings