For lack of a better term, I sometimes call myself a freelance graphic designer and writer. But to be truthful, I work so little lately that I can hardly give myself a job-related title when refering to me. Here is an exerpt from an article I wrote recently for the Designotype Delegate that goes further into the vagueness of my life:
Directly on the heels of “Where are you these days?” I usually get the question, “Where are you working?”
Well, living in Michigan, you might not be surprised to hear that I am more or less unemployed. While officially I am not counted in that category, I am also not counted in the “employed” category. Nor am I included in the surveys of people who are actively looking for work. I think I’m just one of those weird people they don’t put into any category. Too hard to categorize, probably, or simply overlooked and misunderstood.
But if I don’t have a job and I’m not looking for a job, then what am I doing? It’s like clock-work, the way I can anticipate the next question thrown in my direction. The real, complete answer is complex and requires a great deal of explanatory history involving what kinds of jobs I’ve held and where I’ve been in the past two years. It starts with me going to—never mind. People generally don’t have the patience or interest to sit through the full explanation. I usually just gloss over the whole thing and hope that they will just nod vaguely and pretend to understand.
Sometimes, though, they keep pushing. “Well, do you wish you had a job?” “Um, no.” I say, truthfully. “Do you want to go back to school?” I’m asked. “No, not really,” I reply. “How do you live?” they say, starting to sound desperate about my situation. “I snowboard. I read. I’m building a puzzle right now,” I say brightly. “No, I mean what do you do besides having fun all the time!” they say, and throw up their hands, exasperated with me and my blasé answers.
Seriously, I’ve thought about working more. I used to have a full-time job…
Last weekend in Las Vegas, we had a session where we talked about our work and career. I paired up with a wonderfully intuitive lady and started telling her where I am in my life, regarding this subject. As I talked about graphic design, she interrupted me.
“I don’t feel like this is your path with a heart,” she told me. “I get this sense that you would be happier, say, in the Peace Corps, helping kids in Africa.”
This is a lady I had literally met five minutes ago, but when she said that, something in my heart went: “PING!” I have been interested in the Peace Corps for many years, but have always held myself back from making the mental commitment to follow through with applying and preparing myself to be gone for two years.
Now, though? Now I am ready! The idea still makes me grin and my stomach gets all jumpy with excitement. I have already started the application process, which can take up to a year to complete.
In the meanwhile, before I become a Peace Corps Volunteer, I have decided to go back to Alaska this coming summer, continuing my graphic design and marketing work. While this may not be my ideal path right now, it will help me get to where I want to go. (Before Alaska, though, I will probably continue to snowboard and build puzzles.)
Do you know anyone I can talk to regarding the Peace Corps?
What’s your path with a heart? Are you pursuing it?
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