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I'm young and hot. I'm young and hot. I'm young and hot.
Sometimes I feel I’ve written all there is to write about feeling like I’m running out of time, but time and again, new thoughts about it sprout into being. I write to you from my bedroom, where a mountain of unworn-slash-unfolded clothes look me in the eye, daring me to usher them into hangers and put them up on a rack. A Hak Baker song from a few years back plays on my computer, and the ring of the Slack notifications that come on as it plays oddly fits its beat—an editor at Impact beckons, seeking a design for a freshly written piece on the death of 100 river dolphins at the hands of climate change.
There is something altogether eldritch about the way we have been trained to always feel like we’re out of time. Wanna switch majors? Too bad, you can’t — you’ve already put in x amount of time into this one. Wanna switch careers? Too bad, you can’t — you’re already tens of thousands of dollars in debt for the Bachelor’s you needed to get into the field. Wanna switch those shoes out for a different color? Too bad, you can’t — the exchange and return window ended yesterday.
(Wanna switch niches on content? Too bad, you can’t — thousands of people already follow you for the one you’re in now and if you start posting different content than they’re used to, they’ll unfollow you and you’ll plummet into obscurity and you’ll never be heard from or of again.)
It’s always something.
As designers, it’s in our DNA makeup to feel like we have to always be advancing. After all, is that not the point of being creative? To innovate, push the thread, break the binary? It does always feel amazing to make something new. To learn a new sequencing trick on After Effects. To try a new AI-powered tool that cuts your admin process in half. To be caught up with how fast the world is zooming into newness.
So if we’re always creating and advancing, why, conversely, is it that we also always feel like we’re not doing enough?
Making $6k this month? You should be going for $10k. Got 500 likes on that post? You should be getting 1000. Got an extra day this week? You should have said yes to that t-shirt commission you turned down last week.
Ohmygodit’sawful. I can’t be the only one like this. Or maybe I am. Being an independent designer means you get to be free, but that also means you’re free. To do it all. Or none of it. No, you’re not imprisoned by team meetings and corporate culture and you have the mobility to take your practice in any direction at any point in time, but also, no one tells you about the other side of the coin—the self-inflicted pressures and strains you thrust upon yourself because there’s no boundary between work and life anymore, no “once you enter the office, your personal stuff stays on the curb until the end of the day.” Everything permeates into one another and gets crystallized into what you’ve got going on now: an expensive subscription to the belief that you could always be doing more.
I’ve found some hacks to—at least momentarily—cancel such subscription: that is to prioritize my creativity. What does it mean to prioritize my creativity, you ask? The first step is reminding myself that I am a person, not a machine. This means that I should function, recharge, and behave like a person, not a machine. This means, unlike machines (at least for the time being), not only do I need but I also deserve to go outside, see people I love, and do things that make me happy (designing makes me happy, but you get it.)
The second step I take is to take a step outside of my own head and tell myself that my brain is a big, fat fucking liar that’s been corrupted with anxiety and self-abatement. A big, fat fucking liar I need not believe. The same big, fat fucking liar who told me last week my design work was fugly, who is again, this week, being the big, fat fucking liar that it is, telling me that my design work is still fugly.
And fugly just doesn’t exist in my world.
Before I get carried away and this installment shapes up to be an essay chockablock with self-aggrandizement, I’ll leave you with this: I don’t know. Is it good to push yourself? Fuck yeah it is. But maybe, it’s just time for a gentler way of leveling up. One where I don’t feel the lack, but rather simply focus on the leapfrog.
🏛️ DREAM SOCRATIC SEMINAR
Candiace Dillard-Bassett, RHOP
Ziwe, author of Black Friend: Essays and the wittiest person alive
CEO of PopCrave, whoever they are
CEO of A24, whoever they are
Enya Umanzor, internet personality and host of Emergency Intercom
David Beckham, so I can be one step closer to Victoria
Lea Michele, intensely talented singer with corrupt morals
Whoever created the TV show BEEF, ‘cause I’m still not over it
📔 A RECENT NOTE ON MY PHONE WITHOUT CONTEXT
new tinder bio idea: Leo (derogatory) graphic designer (derogatory) ENTP (derogatory)
Dated October 2, 2023 at 22:44
🎰 JAMES JUNK JUKEBOX
Loser – Beck
This song is almost 30 years old and still goes so fucking hard. Wow.
Sugar & Cinnamon – LANY
Anyone going to their LA show in March? Text me.
Teenagers – My Chemical Romance
Love to hear Olivia Rodrigo’s direct ancestors come on shuffle.
Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys
A most timeless banger. That boy’s a slag crawled so that boy’s a liar could fly.
Melrose Meltdown – Suki Waterhouse
*levitates as soon as song comes on* *body providentially defies gravity and physics as the chorus hits* *shatters into self when she gets to the We really fucked it up in diamonds and drug stores part*
🧛🏼♂️ HALLOWEEN COSTUMES WE NEED TO LEAVE IN 2023
Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (this expired in 2019)
Anything/anyone from the Harry Potter universe (Chop.)
Maleficent (none of y’all do it right and up just looking like you’re wearing an all-black hoefit)
Spiderman (you gays need to be stopped omfg)
Policeman/firefighter/anything along the same lines (expired, boring, bland, what else)
Joker and/or Harley Quinn (again… none of y’all do it right. Put down the white face paint, you’re gonna wake up with zits and probably pinkeye)
👻 AND, IN CONJUNCTION, HALLOWEEN COSTUMES WE NEED TO DO MORE OF
Tarzan and/or Jane (why is this not as common as it should be? i\If you have this costume on I automatically think you’re hot)
Poison Ivy (so much room for creativity and c*untivity… we have 3 good years left before she expires)
Kill Bill (so easy and so slay! Yeah)
Cover art of one of your favourite artist’s album (the people who do this always put lots of thought into it and it shows. Tens!)
Guy Fieri (only ‘cause I wanna see it)
🌼 LIFE UPDATE IN 300 WORDS OR LESS
Boo — and happy halloween! Because I recently remembered I have free will and owe nothing to anyone, I have taken it upon myself not to dress as anything for this spooky occasion. In fact, I’m not doing anything Halloween-related at all this year (except maybe collapsing into myself in horror every time a client asks for yet another edit).
Last year, I went as a thotty, slapdash Buzz Lightyear and got sloshed with my friends at a dirty party house in Venice (California, not Italy.) The year before, I was in San Francisco dressed as a white angel but called it a “God” costume for reasons only Leos can understand. (Yes, before you ask, both costumes did constitute a white tank top and trousers that hugged my asscheeks, because I am nothing if not a limp-wristed gay.)
The reasoning behind this decision is manifold. One: I believe in sustainability and care about the environment, unlike ALL OF YOU, who should be ashamed of yourselves for going into your local defunct strip mall-turned-Spirit Halloween and contributing to the fast fashion waste of it all! (Just kidding. Thought that is a good point.)
Two: Halloween is wack, and I don’t think I’ve ever raised that conversation anywhere in the ether before out of fear of being stoned to death by those who register for Halloween, but in consonance with free will, I’m doing it now. I’m not gonna exhaust myself—or you—with an entire manuscript on why I’m not into Halloween, because at the end of the day, to each their own, but I will say that I’m not completely opposed to Halloween et al., only the bred-to-the-bone culturalization and commercialization of it that Americans can’t seem to wake and get up from. I don’t hate fun—I just hate this one. Boo, Halloween.
Three: It’s been a month too busy to bust out a costume idea list and actually dress up. I realize now it’s a privilege to have the time (ha-ha) to come up with a sick costume and get creative with it and then take it all off after downing 10 vodkas at your neighborhood grogshop, and it’s one I don’t have. I’ve been hard at work on some exciting client projects—which is not a boo but does explain my lack of presence on Instagram—and have been feverishly scouring Zillow in a search for the perfect Silver Lake/Atwater Village pied-a-terre to move into before the year is over. This one is a boo.
In the meantime, I’ll use this space to drop some action items and resources to help the people of Gaza, because as televised and broadcasted as it is, I’m not sure people are really getting that we are witnessing an entire group of people get barbarously eradicated from the face of the Earth. Everyone, we are living in a dystopia and we need to reject this absolutely fucked up play of events. This is not fucking normal. This is not okay. Do not get desensitized. Don’t get used to the numbers going up. It’s okay that you’re just now learning about the history between the two states. It’s okay that you feel like you don’t wanna contribute to the noise in the echo chambers that may be. It’s okay to feel odd talking about it because you have friends from both corners. But we have reached a point where it is no longer about freeing Palestine but about saving it—so let’s.
🇵🇸 GAZA ACTION ITEMS + RESOURCES
Jewish Voice for Peace — Jews organizing toward Palestinian liberation and Judaism beyond Zionism
Miyagi by Alex Haigh, Berthold Script by Günter Gerhard Lange, Zelek Shadline by Dick Pape
mymind – ‘Remember everything, organize nothing.’ Like a tumblr blog but for your life and brain. It’s branded as a lifestyle product, but I imagine this would be great for designers, too, for moodboarding, inspo saving, and other stuff.
Matthew Miller on Graphic Support Group – I love listening to my friends talk about their work, but I especially love it when they sing to the choir, too. Matthew talked a lot about working in the social impact space and every five seconds I was like, yup, Yup, YUUUUP! (While I have you, if you have any creative podcasts you think I should listen to, drop a comment plz)
One more time — DONATE to the people of Gaza.
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