Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Losing It in L.A.

Dear Bonnie,

I'm a "recent" college graduate. I finished school in May of 2014 with my BFA in Graphic Design, and immediately upon graduating I started a Graphic Design internship, which became my first full-time job last October, and has been ever since. When I reached the one year mark, I started to think about my next move. I like my job, but I don't love it, and I figured clearing the one year mark, passing Go, collecting my $200 (or a small annual raise), was sort of the starting gun for beginning the search for my next job. I'm in no rush, like I said, I don't hate my job, but I've been getting more than a little restless recently, and I'm at the point where if something came up, I'd definitely jump on the opportunity to move on.

I've been (more or less) diligent at keeping my portfolio and resume up to date, and I frequent AIGA and SEGD networking events, so I feel like I'm in a great position to start reaching out and seeing what's available, but I'm being held back by this deep feeling that the reason I'm so restless and bored at my current job is less because of the job, and more because I'm not as dedicated to being a graphic designer as I always thought. When I think about what I want from my next job, it's hard for me to visualize myself enjoying any sort of graphic design working environment or team structure, company size or design focus.

There are a handful of other things I'm passionate about—music and writing come first to mind—and I can't help but think that I'd be happier in a situation where I could put those skills and experiences to the test (I started a blog specifically to start really experimenting with writing about music). But on the other hand, for so many years I was absolutely positive about my choice to become a graphic designer. Am I just getting cold feet about taking the next steps in a design career, or is this mental block a sign that maybe it's time to seriously consider other options?

Losing it in LA

Dear LL.,

The most important words in your letter are “I can’t help but think that I’d be happier … .” You know what you want and are being held back by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making the “right” decision, fear of messing up your whole entire life, fear of airplanes (sorry, that’s mine). The good news is there are no right decisions and following your heart can not possibly mess up your whole life. Remember what John Lennon said: “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

You will always be a graphic designer, and can always go back to being a graphic designer. Doing other things will actually make you a better graphic designer. For now, it seems you need to try something else. You are young and this is the perfect moment to try on different versions of yourself. After you have held a job for ten years it will be much more difficult to switch gears completely.

I don’t think you have cold feet about your next job. You are allowed to change your mind about how you spend your life. Knowing what you want to do when you go to college is a rare thing so you just put off the inevitable "Who am I, really?" question we all ask ourselves at various points in our lives. And your design education will continue to inform whatever you do. You can’t escape it. And I know your blog will look way better than the next guys.

Who knows. Maybe when you are done exploring, you’ll end up being the only person to be both a writer and a designer at Rolling Stone (or the  current, way cooler equivalent). And of course you will have been adventurous and won’t have to live with the regret of wondering what would have happened if … . I believe that just the act of change and dealing with different challenges will expand not only your skill sets but also potentially make you happier at what ever you do wind up doing.

Jobs | February 23