I remember my first day of my new job in the real world. I remember thinking: “This is it—I’ve got my college degree and now it’s time to put in the work. The work toward my goal of becoming a Creative Director.” Someday. One day. But along the way I realized I was seeking a title that is defined in so many different ways. Naturally and gradually, my gaze shifted to my passion for my work, my team, and the meaningful experiences we created. Unlike most, I chose to ignore the titles.
Fast forward ten years later. I am an Art Director for Hook & Loop’s Rhythm Agency in Manhattan and after fours years of living in the City That Never Sleeps, my husband and I decided to scale it back to Stamford, Connecticut. We knew in our hearts that we never wanted to raise a family in the city, so it was a natural next step. But, this natural next step added a 1.5 – 2 hour commute in to work… Yikes!
As I endured the commute, my career finally hit the pinnacle of everything I’ve worked hard for. I’m in a position where I’m highly respected, I’ve been given the opportunity to double our team’s size, and I’ve established very close (and loving) relationships with my team of seven UX and UI designers. I’m also approaching a promotion to reach that highly sought after Associate Creative Director title in late September. It wasn’t until three months ago that I realized I had slowly, but surely, perfectly positioned myself along a path that led straight to success at Hook & Loop. But—and there’s always a but—I felt my heart being tugged in a different direction as my life reached a crossroads.
I had to say goodbye.
This was by no means an irrational decision. If you know me, I’m incredibly type A. I rehearse every possible scenario and think of everything that can possibly go wrong before I change direction. But another thing you should know about me: once I arrive at a solution, I commit to it wholeheartedly. After three months of sleepless nights and countless prayers for God’s will to be revealed in my life, I made a leap of faith: I became a full-time freelancer.
I’m on my own, working from home, managing my own clients, and building my own relationships. I’m solely responsible for bringing in an income. Scary! Today marks the first day in ten years that I haven’t gone in to work. I’m being realistic in the sense that I know I’ll second guess myself for a while and I know this won’t be easy. I’m a people person, I love team environments, and I’m an athlete, which means I’m used to being motivated by others and not necessarily having to motivate myself. Why did I do it?
I am recently married and thinking of starting a family soon. Many women face this decision: Will I be a stay-at-home mom (if we are blessed with that opportunity) or will I be a working mom? My husband has always requested that I choose to be a stay-at-home mom. I agreed, but also knew that I didn’t want to throw away my career entirely. I have a deep love for design and it’s something I never want to part with. I’m also a chef/baker and athlete at heart, so the commute back and forth was really limiting my kitchen and gym time… Limiting as in, it was non-existent. Naturally, that leads me to where I am now.
As I approach this new chapter in my life, I’ve decided to dive head first into the freelance world, a world where I can control my own projects, clients, and timelines in the hopes that I can also juggle being a mom while working from home. I don’t know what the future brings, but I do know that this feels right. And when I think about it all, I don’t for a second believe that I am giving up on my dreams. I don’t need the Creative Director title or the power, and my love for design will never go away. But along this ten year real-world journey, I realized that my dream of being a wife and a Mommy capture a much larger part of my heart. And besides, now that I’m on my own, I can create my own title, right? Art Director feels pretty great to me, but the title I’m dreaming of is Mommy, and this is the career path that just feels right.