April 24th, 2009

Jobquitting

By Frank DeRose

What I would like to holler at you all about is something called “jobquitting”; one word, lower case. Very simple — 11 letters, lots of t’s and i’s (and here’s a secret: I made it up for this little essay.)

It is appropriate, however, to this particular book for several reasons: one, it is what I have been doing since I finished my degree and, two, it is what I did at the end of December 2006, which has allowed me to put off writing this essay until now- March 6, 2007, which is 6 days later than when Dan wanted it. (Whatever Dan. You are not my boss!)

Anyway, I am sure you can imagine what “jobquitting” is. It is pretty much self-explanatory. But, the psychology it elicits is not always so obvious.

This psychology comes replete with some self-doubt; maybe even some self-loathing (not to mention no money). This past time (and I have done it x3 since I finished my degree in December ’04) because of the aforementioned self-doubt and insecurity, it has occasioned some fighting with my wife (Hola Nena!). Sometimes I have trouble keeping these emotions in check and I take them out on her. Of course, I know this is not fair; but it is half the fun! You will, in your jobquitting, undoubtedly discover some new things about yourself and some of them will suck. A lot of them might suck, actually.

Sounds shitty, right? It is.

It is definitely shitty to throw away a paycheck and have nothing concrete to replace it with (imagine throwing money away…), and it is kind of shitty to stay at home all day (Dan asked me to mention how I sit around in my underwear a lot). It is also extremely shitty to spend a vast amount of time worrying that you will never get another job, or find another client. Thereby rendering yourself a pretty poor designer.

But (and you had to know this was coming):

There is definitely something empowering and, one might even argue, a little noble, in jobquitting. The thing to keep in mind is that slavery was abolished in 1865. You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do; or what doesn’t make you happy. I mean, like, totally, absolutely, all the way happy. There is very little reason to keep a job you don’t like. In fact, fuck it. If you can figure out a way to either save some paper or earn a little paper in the meantime, you too can practice the technique of jobquitting. Embracing your idealism can stand you in good stead. It does require some guts and a little tenacity, but perhaps it will lead to something greater than a paycheck, like doing what you believe in (this is what I sound like when I am on my high horse… and I know it’s a little vainglorious, but it feels so good).

And the thing that it might allow you, just as it allows me — and which is utterly important — is hope. Now, when I wake up, mixed in with the fear and stomachaches is a little sliver of hope: “Maybe today Insert hero designer’s name here will remember the day I showed him my portfolio, and he will call me up and offer me a job. Or, maybe I will find the perfect freelance client. Or, maybe, I will finally be able to dunk a basketball.”

Whatever it might be… there is now the possibility… there is the time… for something like this to happen (but not the basketball, I am pretty sure that is a physiological thing).

I can take the time to try again. And again. And again. And I can keep getting a little bit better and, eventually, I’ll get the job or start the studio that makes me happy and keeps me satisfied. And that is why the past two years have been all about jobquitting.

Frank DeRose is.

This essay first appeared in Never Sleep, a book written by Andre Andreev and G. Dan Covert, published by de.MO. Summary: There is a major disconnect between the life of a design student and the transition to being a design professional. To demystify the transition, we share the failures, successes, and surprises during our years in college and progression into the field: the creative process, monetary problems, internships, interviews, mistakes, and personal relationships.