I haven't been as diligent about posting here in the past year or so. Not for the lack of ideas, I assure you, but rather, the lack of energy. My life wasn't what I wanted. I had hit my 10 year mark as a professional designer and I was certainly not where I had envisioned when it came to my career. I was doing what I thought I had to do, working where I wasn't happy and really wasn't respected. I didn't think I had any other option as beggars for the scant jobs can't be choosers. I was sure money was the only thing of importance, happiness and health be damned. I felt pinned, painted in a corner, hopeless. I had let everyone down, especially myself.
One day, a Twitter friend pointed me in the direction of Zen Pencils. I wasn't sure what it was by the name, but when I landed there, the first thing I saw was this comic. I admit, I had tears in my eyes when I got to the bottom. I got a number of things from this comic. One: you should never let go of what you feel in your soul, the thing that drives you and comes naturally. Two: high acclaim is amazing, but even when it doesn't come, you're making a difference.
I scrolled through the comics that day, not all of them, but quite a few. I felt better, but I was still torn. A crossroads was up ahead and I had to make a decision. Do I keep doing what brought home a paycheck (and made me a shell of a human) or do I do what I NEED to do? A bit later, this comic was published and though it wasn't the singular factor in my decision, it certainly helped. About a month later, I resigned my full-time position to become a freelance illustrator.
I'm thankful for a lot of things this year. I'm so blessed to have a family and a husband who support me. I'm glad to have had the experiences of the past few years as they (though it seemed they were doing the opposite) made me see my true value as a creative and a person. I'm thankful for the new friends and relationships (Kentucky for Kentucky, I'm looking at you) I've gained this year and of course, the exposure I've gotten because of them. I do truly love being an illustrator and this opportunity, though not an easy road, is far better than the road I was travelling.
As I sit down with my family for Thanksgiving this year, I'll see every experience large and small as precious and inspirational. So I would like to thank Zen Pencils for what I know is not a rare occurrence. Serendipity led me to what I needed to see and without this illustrator and his own journey, those sights wouldn't be there. I leave you to your holiday with a few lines from another one of my sources of creative fire, Level Up from Vienna Teng. Happy Thanksgiving for the rest of forever.
"If you are afraid, come forth.
If you are alone, come forth now.
Everybody here has loved and lost,
so level up and love again.
Call it any name you need.
Call it your 2.0, your rebirth, whatever –
So long as you can feel it all,
so long as all your doors are flung wide.
Call it your day #1 in the rest of forever."