A Job That Fits

This weekend, my mom said to me, "You seem to be happier these days. Is that because all the fun design work you're doing is distracting you from the fact that you're still not married?" (Okay, so I might be exaggerating her verbage slightly, but you get the idea.)

The fact is that my fun design work is making me happy. Which makes me seriously question my career goals.

When I was dating Viper, he would stay late at work as often as he could (which, because he was a busy guy, turned out to only really be Mondays). One day he was telling me that he doesn't mind writing the occasional email on work time because a lot of the time he's thinking about work while he's in the shower, and he doesn't charge them for that. I think that those two things---wanting to stay late at work and thinking about work when you're not at work---are good signs that you're in a career that really fits.

And at the time, it didn't escape my notice that I always left work the moment I could (and all too often a couple moments before I'd worked a full day), and I never, ever thought about work problems in the shower.

But now that I am doing design work as opposed to straight editing, I really find that I am happier. (Not that I was depressed before... it's just that my parents are constantly probing me for my state of happiness and asking me to describe it as a number, and even though that number is usually a 9, they can somehow pick up on the unquantifiable difference between 9-but-I-don't-have-a-husband and 9-did-I-tell-you-about-my-latest-design?)

I stay late at the office and I don't even mind (and I don't mind the overtime that will be coming my way, either). This morning, I was even thinking about work in the shower so that I could start my workday running. Close friends and family will attest that every time I finish a batch of designs, I send out mass emails showing the work I've done.

Editing is just slightly different. Sure, I send out mass emails whenever I find some true editing gem, but when's the last time that happened? It's true that I find editing fulfilling and that I take pride in my little editing library here at home.

But it doesn't get me as excited as my design work. And it's not as fun as my design work.

This is where it gets tricky. See, I studied editing because I love the English language and because I love perfecting anything that is printed or published. I chose it as a field because I'm good at it. Design is something that I have always had a knack for but that I never studied in depth. So while working in design energizes me, I feel that I am not prepared to do design professionally. While I understand some principles of design, there are many others that I'm sure I'm not even aware of. Take color theory for example. One of the hardest parts of my work in design right now is finding colors that work well together. Think making a stripe pattern is easy? Finding the right colors, the right order, and the right variation of line thickness drives me crazy and I'm rarely pleased with what I manage to come up with.

I guess that's all to say that I'll feel like a poser if I ever abandon editing to go into design, even though design is what I enjoy more (yes, even making those pesky stripes). My current situation is actually absolutely ideal and perfect---where I find professional fulfillment as an editor and extra enjoyment doing design work on the side. I guess that means that when I say I'm a 9, I really mean it (and a raise and a gas grill and possibly a husband would put me at a 10).


Squirrel Boy said...

I've had some of the same job problems since I've graduated. I think I've always enjoyed editing a lot more when I was only doing it part time. I really felt like I was missing something once school was over, and it wasn't until I discovered Language Log and started reading it religiously that I realized just how much I love linguistics and want to study it.

ambrosia ananas said...

Yeah, editing has lost some of its thrill for me, too. As has technical writing. And while I definitely understand your concerns about feeling like a poser if you do something you didn't learn in school, come on--you're *good* at design, and you love it. Whatever technical knowledge you need, you can learn. (Bawb's grandma lent me a book on color theory. It's specifically for quilting, but it might be helpful. I'll send you the title if you're interested.) If you need more training, you can get it. Don't give up what you love just because you don't have a little piece of paper saying you know how to do it.

Tolkien Boy said...

A gas grill and a husband, huh? I know where you can get some nice grills...

Cicada said...

The tragedy is that I was going to buy a gas grill with all the overtime I've been earning, but our HOA just sent out a letter saying that grills are not allowed. So pretty much it'll be impossible for me to eat healthy this summer because how can I be healthy if I can't barbecue?

Also, I should note that my mom is mad at me for my exaggeration of what she said. Really, she is a kind and sensitive mother.

patience said...

You can always go for a Master's degree. Plus, who needs a husband when you have senor pissy to yell at you, and provide you with a good grill?

Saule Cogneur said...

Personally, I think everything gets old after a while. I bet that if you had started out as a designer, you'd be feeling like you should have gone with editing. It's smart to try to do both if you don't spread yourself too thin, which one of my many problems.

On most days of the week, I play engineer, but on other days, I play mechanic. My happiness level soars (but only to about a 7.5 I'm afraid). Last week, I even got to play editor for half a day; I loved it.

My dad always said "pick the thing you enjoy that makes the most money and do the rest as a hobby." On most days, I can't disagree.

AzĂșcar said...

Editing/English is a practical major that proves that you can communicate and facilitate communication. Those communication skills are invaluable in our current business culture. A good writer/editor is hard to find in the business world. That particular skill set allows you the flexibility to pursue your design dreams or whatever other field you'd like.

I've had a good amount of success in the business world that is directly related to the writing skills I gleaned from my history degree. Do I work as a Historian? Not even close.

So go on wit your bad self.

The Holyoaks said...

I don't know what I'd do if I had to go back to work. Probably work at the GAP or something since I'm not such a fan of the opportunities (or lack there of) my degree offers.

Rachel said...
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