About a month ago, after a bit of soul searching following a pretty intense emotional breakdown caused by a situation in the company, I currently work for... I had decided to look for a new job. Kind of.
I have eluded to this “situation” before. I’ve mentioned that eventually I want to be in a position to discuss the details and share my story, but now is still not the time. It is still not resolved, and people that I care about are still involved. Now that doesn’t mean that I am ignoring it, or not dealing with the repercussions as far as I am concerned. On the contrary. The amount of soul work, and work-work that I have had to do to even begin to get past this crappy situation is pretty staggering.
But this post is not about that blow. It is about the blow that followed.
Like I said, I had decided that I might need a change. I needed my work to be validated. As a professional and an artist, I needed to know that I could be hired based on talent and merit. So, I typed up a resume, and started making calls.
Pretty much immediately I was contacted by a recruiter from the graphic design department of a major craft supplies company. Just to be safe let’s call the company, Gobby Mobby.
Initially, I was extremely excited! I had put in a lot of work trying to be noticed by a company this size! Typing up my resume alone was the first piece of validation I had needed. Seeing all of my accomplishments, some of which I had forgotten about, laid out in front of me in chronological order felt good! The second was when I put together my portfolio, and it was massive. Bright, eclectic, professional, quality work, packed full of skills that I had earned. This is what spoke to the part of myself that often times gets buried. The deep down me that KNOWS I am good, and talented. When I looked at my resume and my portfolio, I knew I was good.
I made it through the initial interview process at Gobby Mobby. I made it through the phone interview. Through the salary pitch. I made it all the way to the design test. All of these steps took about a week and a half. Turns out, a week and half was the exact amount of time that I needed to reevaluate and mentally turn down taking a position with Gobby Mobby.
While I am a firm believer in “to each their own”, (as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or anyone else), the principals that this company had built itself on were a major problem for me, and on some levels, I believe they do hurt people. I don’t want to get into the specifics, because I believe that companies do have the right to operate how they see fit as long as they are operating within the scope of the law.
I will say, that I believe there are multiple sets of laws that should dictate behavior, and our moral sets did not match up. Theirs being conservative and what I consider to be socially irresponsible. Mine is much, much more liberal.
I was faced with a decision. To either accept a job with Gobby Mobby that would leave me feeling like I had betrayed myself and countless people who I love and respect, while earning a killer salary plus benefits which would give me and my kids security, or... I could pass it up, tough out my current work situation for a little bit longer, continue living paycheck to paycheck, but get to keep my self-respect. The choice was muddy. I was still aching from the let down in my current job, and I still thought that I needed the validation. So as I sit there at a cross roads, the design test in my email inbox, staring at me… I had to make a decision.
I decided to take the test. But to take it my way.
I designed the 3 color pallets they asked for. Fall/Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday.
I designed the card they asked for, which was instructed to say, “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed”.
And I designed several different 12”x12” scrapbooking paper patterns which were to include current themes and trends. I did the designs, and I included their messages. Except I included a message of my own.
Since they didn’t say which themes and trends to include, I went with inclusivity, and acceptance. Something that this company has gone to great lengths to control. Even the phone interview questions were thinly veiled and worded just so that they could gauge your feelings on their social and religious beliefs, but couldn’t be sued for not hiring you based on them.
As a woman, a mother, teacher of children and friend to people of all backgrounds, races, sexual preferences, lifestyles, and religions, I decided that my self-respect was more important than validation. I decided that the only person that should be responsible for making me feel like I am good enough, is me. Still the test sounded fun, I embraced the challenge as an experience that offered opportunity for growth, and honestly, I just wanted to send Gobby Mobby artwork with empowering messages and rainbows on it. So I did take the test.
It went exactly how you think it went. A few days after I submitted my test I received an email. The email stated that my “skill-set” was not what they were looking for, and that I was no longer in the running for a graphic design position. I can admit that at the time of this test, I was still learning the new versions of old design programs as I had just gotten a new computer, and I probably wasn’t ready for the test. I still firmly believe that the subject matter scared them off. I had sort of planned for that.
It was just before Christmas when I received my rejection letter from Gobby Mobby. I knew it was coming but it still stung. I wasn’t upset, but it still stung. Having hope that you can make a change feels nice. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.
Since the whole point of me sending this artwork was to perpetuate happiness and kindness, even to those who sometimes forget to do the same, I tried to be pleasant with my words without giving them anymore of myself than I already had. I responded to the email with two words, and then I moved on. My response said, “Merry Christmas”.
Through this whole ordeal I keep touching on themes of validation, and self-respect, and inadvertently perseverance, and hard-work. I struggled with these things, but I was able to come out the other side with a clearer understanding of my character while cutting myself some slack. I realized that I don’t need a boss to tell me I’m good at what I do. I don’t need a recruiter in a cubicle to tell me I am good at what I do. And I do not need to sacrifice my self-respect to gain status, compensation, or even a larger platform for people to see my work.
I have decided that am going to build my own damn platform. And EVERYONE, is welcomed to stand on it with me.
I decided to finish designing my own special brand of scrapbooking paper, basically because someone told me that I can’t. I finished the designs last night, and its available for download on Etsy as of this morning. And on the website as well. Digital scrap-booking, who would have thought. Gobby Mobby created a monster.
The pack is called, “If Anyone Can, I Can!”, and it is meant to be used by everyone. Products for the people!
My little sister and I are actually in the process of designing more socially conscious, all-inclusive designs which will be available soon! I am loving every second of the creative process.
This wound and the self-realizations as I’m trying to heal from it are still fresh. I still feel those same feelings of not being good enough, or questioning my skill-set, even my motives. But they don’t drive my decisions, they just keep them in check. I am starting to be gentler with myself, and I think that is the point. To be kind, and inclusive, to be gentle with ourselves and with others, and to understand that no body has the right to tell you if you are good enough or not. I regret the times when I have done this to people, because I know have. We all have. But it’s time to be better.
To quote a dear friend, and founder of Junk Hippy, “Be nice, or leave.”