Thoughts + ‘Advice’ at Two Years: Changing Careers, Finding Partnership and Accepting Balance

Something personal today.

First Home. Last Sunset.

This is my little corner of the world. I’ve lived here, on my own, since 2012. Yesterday was my last full day as its occupant : ( Today is my first day officially living with J : ) As I was moving out, I realized there are so many things we do and experience every day and yet have no record of it. So I decided to record a video of the sunset while I wrote in my journal, so I could remember it this way.

I’m very sentimental and attached when it comes to this place. As a child of relatively poor divorced immigrant parents, it really has embodied the idea of the American Dream for me. But beyond that, for me it’s been a witness, a shelter, a stage. My home has seen my highs of one period of my life, been there for the lows of when it all came apart, and then watched things come back together in different, truer way. I can look at specific places here and vividly remember intense feelings of joy and sorrow I experienced. I find it very interesting how homes can play that role in our minds.

It’s really hard to say goodbye to this place, but I’m excited for the next step in our lives. And anyway, we’ll still be in DTLA!

Two Years. Still New.

By complete coincidence, today is also exactly two years since I took the leap to try freelancing full time… as a single girl with a mortgage. I worked here, from home, and funnily enough everyday I could actually still see my old law firm’s building in the skyline. It reminded me to be grateful for this opportunity to chase my dreams, to be able to love what I do everyday. But I don’t want that to come across as bitter—I am also very grateful for the experience my time at the firm gave me, in no small part because it unintentionally prepared me with skills to be a much better freelancer.

I never knew for sure if anything would work out, and I realized I’ll never know for sure what will happen down the road. I have to get used to that. I just did what I could with what I had where I was, and I continue to do what I can with what I have where I am.

People often ask me if I regret it—either going into law or leaving it. I can honestly say no, I don’t regret either. Each step—good and bad, happy and painful—has led me to closer to who I truly am and what I truly want to do.

I can also look back and say the same for my personal life. It’s almost eerie to me how much my career and personal life have paralleled each other the past few years, and how I can’t tell one story without the other. It felt like I jumped, and I didn’t realize when I landed the ground was going to give way, taking everything.

But in a way I suppose that makes sense; I was forced to build back up from the bottom, really figure out for myself what I really was, and see both my strengths and faults on my own. I am truly better for it. And what I didn’t expect, but have come to see, is that when you come out on the other side of something difficult, you realize it’s not something you just forget completely. It’s an experience that always stays with you. And that’s ok.

flow
My good chi spirit.

 

Sharing Thoughts.

I mostly wanted to share this because I remember how much it helped me to hear people’s stories back when I was torn on whether to “go for it” or not.

If you are in these shoes, I say this: If you really want something, and the only thing stopping you is fear/image, make a plan and go for it. I don’t think I’m a particularly lucky or brave person. What I do think is that Conan’s “work hard, be kind, and good things will happen” quote is true, and I’ll add these thoughts:

  1. Open your heart and mind to opportunity, because sometimes life gives you what you asked for but it doesn’t come in the form you expect.
  2. When life gives you shit, turn it into compost and grow your garden. (One day, people may pass by and say “wow! what a beautiful garden! you are so lucky.” And you can say “yes, so lucky that life gave me a lot of shit!” Or just smile.)
  3. Making something good takes a lot of work and you need to be really disciplined and focused. Things often won’t work out the way you wanted. But see these things as tests from life to see how badly you really want what you claim you want. Don’t let it defeat you.
  4. And finally, a supportive & inspiring partner makes an incredible difference, so figure out who you are first and then take finding the right person seriously. J has given me a emotional and mental peace that has been invaluable to my pursuit in work, probably in more ways than even I can see. Ever since I’ve read this page from George Lois’ Damn Good Advice, I’ve kept it close to my heart, believing it existed even at my most jaded:

    screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-7-07-18-pm
    The last part reads “Having a mate who understands and contributes mightily to your ethos of life and work is a blessing beyond measure.” I agree.

Still Learning.

It’s definitely good to be able to look back at two years and breath a momentary sigh of relief and gratitude (“whew I’m still here”), but I also know I have a long way to go. I continue to struggle to find balance in all aspects of life: how to allow sadness and happiness to coexist peacefully within me, how to be humble about my self but unapologetic for who I am, and how to be aware of pitfalls but not live in hedges.

Here’s to the next 🙂

-MC

 

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7 thoughts on “Thoughts + ‘Advice’ at Two Years: Changing Careers, Finding Partnership and Accepting Balance

  1. Mimi, your advice is super helpful! Several months ago, I made the decision to make the leap to pursue an illustration and art career full time. I definitely work much harder than my previous job, but have no regrets what-so-ever. It’s so true that making good work takes a ton of time and patience, but if you let yourself be patient in making quality work, everything will come together.

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    1. That’s so great to hear! I would love to see your work sometime. I agree I work as hard as ever but time feels totally different when it’s something you really care about. Best wishes on everything 🙂

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  2. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you. I’m sure it will be hard to leave that lovely view, but it sounds like you’re moving on to even more promising things. I’m reminded of this quote: “Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you may become.” -Reinhold Neibuhr (I’m not religious, but I do like this quote of his.)

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    1. Thank you Katie, and yes it’s bittersweet in that way! Thanks so much for the great quote, I actually have never heard it despite all the quote-digging I do 🙂 And I also appreciate many quotes by religious figures even though I am not religious; some points are universal!

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  3. This post warms my heart, Mimi 🙂 Agreed with everything you said here. I also made the move to freelancing two years ago and am now happier than ever before even though the leap was frightening at first. And yes, the right partner definitely makes decisions I might normally second-guess much easier. All the best to you in the next adventure!

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