Jennifer Cirpici is a Dutch graphic designer and blogger.
Designers are often people who are stubborn, full of drive, and either good or bad at planning, but not in between. Designers can also be hard workers.
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Actually, designers are odd people to understand. We think a lot about everything, we overanalyze situations, we can spend hours on a project without realizing that time is passing by, and we have a very direct opinion.
On the outside, designers are difficult to follow. Often people don’t understand how we live a life with so much tension yet seem to enjoy it. Stress is our enemy but also our best friend.
If you are a designer, this isn’t something new to you.
You’ve probably been to design events and you’ve seen successful designers with the kind of accomplishments you can only dream of having one day. These professionals travel to countries to talk about their work and what it means for them.
The early bits of success came to me at the age of 19, when I got kicked out of school. Immediately after that, I started working at design agencies.
Design is the first thing in my mind when I wake up, from when I am under the shower to when I close my eyes to sleep. Most people don’t realize how lonely we can be. We’re often busy with our careers, and unless your significant others or social circle endure the same lifestyle, it’s hard for others outside your industry to understand why you live this way.
I cannot speak for everyone of course, but for designers and entrepreneurs, their careers are everything to them. We often do not realize that there are other things in the world too.
The realization came to me when I was working in agencies and began noticing that I couldn’t think about anything else. Worse, I didn’t know anything else. Design was all I had.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
After the epiphany, I concluded that it was time to take a break. I decided to study something completely different: Social work.
To this day, I do not regret my decision. Yes, it is difficult to be go back to being a full-time student after a professional career. It’s sometimes difficult to understand other students and for them to understand me. When I travel in between my studies to a country to talk about my work, they don’t really get the stress that comes along with it.
But what really opened my eyes is that I have a position to help people around me during my internships. I have the opportunity to assist those with dementia, autism and other incurable illnesses. At my internship, people look forward seeing social workers every week because it makes their days complete. Some even cry at the thought of us leaving them in the summer when the internship ends.
I’ve never experienced someone crying in front of me because they’re happy for what I’ve done for them and that they are going to miss that. Usually when people cry about you, you don’t get to witness it.
Breaks can improve your original passion
You might think that taking a four-year break to study for my bachelor’s degree would set back my creativity and design skill set. In fact, that isn’t true. The more you distance yourself from the computer and understand people and the world around you, the more they inspire you. They give your brain the break it so badly needed because you are able to focus on other things.
Before I had the pressure to design something. Now I want to.
My advice is that when you find yourself stuck in your industry – whatever it may be – and notice that you’re not making significant, meaningful progress in life, take a break. Find joy in something else and learn something different.
You will see that by stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks, it will make you improve as a person. Your passion will always live inside you. A break will never change that if you don’t want it to.