Ariel Coleman

Illustrator & Printmaker

Forward Progress

Personal Development, MemoriesAriel ColemanComment

I didn't plan to take a month off work, to take a month to redefine what I want and who I am and where I'm going, to quit my job and propel myself into a 6 week stint of unemployment, it just kind of happened. Really fast and all of a sudden.

In January I realized I was experiencing more stress than what I'd bargained for. That keeping myself up at night ruminating on events, conversations, relationships, and business decisions that were often out of my hands was an unhealthy way to expend my brain power. I also realized that my many attempts to curtail the analyzing of my situation had been fruitless for months, which meant it was time to let go. So I did. I let go of something I wanted so badly to hold on to. I quit the job that I had coveted for such a long time, that I thought would leverage my strengths and advance my career for maybe forever, it didn't turn out quite like I had thought, and that's okay, that's how life is sometimes. It was an awesome experience, I learned so much, and even though it didn't last forever I wouldn't change a thing. 

It was tough. I felt like a failure. I felt awful for leaving my friends and coworkers in a lurch. I had so many doubts about it, and kept myself up at night worrying whether I had made the right decision. Nick spent a lot of time talking me down and building me back, so did my mom, my career coach, and my good friend Aaron. All people with so much love and respect for who I am, reminding me, and standing by me when I didn't even want to stand by myself. 

Walking into the unknown against what most people were telling me was really hard, "but is seems like such a good job, I don't understand" and "I thought you liked it there, are you bored?". It was tough to feel like it was my gut feeling against the better judgement of a lot of people I really respected. Opinions of others that felt paramount to my own based on some hierarchal system of worth I had made up in my head. In the end though; I'm the only one who can really decide what's best for me, and channeling that through this whole experience has been really enlightening. In the end it was just a job, and it just wasn't the right fit for me, and that's totally cool. 

I spent the first two weeks after that decision in shock, wondering what I had done, applying to anything from retail positions to office manager positions, letting my brain run wild with the fear of "never figuring my career out"  and "haphazardly running out of money". 25 years of the "what are you going to do when you grow up" question haunting me in my sleep. Once the initial shock wore off and I confirmed that I'd be fine financially for the next couple of months, I shifted my focus to finding a position that would be sustainable over the long run. 

After my career coach helped me narrow down my search to marketing or creative positions, at either a branding agency, tech company or finance company, I focused on what I really needed out of a position, room for growth, a mentor, on a team, and in bike-able distance from my apartment. I networked. I had coffee with 19 different people crowd sourcing their knowledge on portland companies and potential positions. I spent hours on my resume and applied for 34 jobs via linked/indeed/direct websites. I had 8 phone interviews 2 video interviews, 5 in person first interviews 3 in person second interviews, and a final third interview with Umpqua Bank for a program coordinator position on their creative services team. A position that fit all my criteria, and I got the job. Relief, excitement, terror.

To say the month went by fast would be an understatement, but now that it's over I'm really glad I took this time to recharge and reinvent myself a bit. 

While hunting for a new job I've also spent the last month digging my heels into my community, my surroundings, and my art. Thinking hard about what I want to do, and applying myself to career development, but also indulging in R&R.

Its been incredibly luxurious to sleep in, drink coffee, sit on the couch, and think for a number of hours each day, not crazy monkey mind thoughts but solid thoughts about what really makes me happy. Figuring out what I need to foster in the future for that feeling to persist.

I found, like many on soul searching sabbaticals, that it's relationships that are the most important thing to me. That having good, positive, healthy relationships around me accounts for at least 80% of my happiness. If I feel understood, heard, taken care of by the people in my life, and am able to understand, hear, and take care of those around me, I'm a happy person. I don't need more money, fancier adventures, or a prestigious career, I just need to feel like I matter and that I'm apart of a community of people that matter to me.

We put so much weight into all these arbritary things, like status, success, wealth, material possessions, when in reality so much of our happiness comes from people, the people in our lives. The people we lean on and those that lean on us. It's often only when you strip away all of the stuff that doesn't matter, when you can see the stuff that truly does. 

The other part for me at least, is a mix of positive thinking, healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and having plenty of time to think, reflect, create, and build my life around me. That balance is hard to find sometimes, but I think it's worth it to strive for, to try to build that balance into the everyday.

An introvert at heart, I've loved every minute of my unscheduled days that have enabled me to write, paint, draw, cook, read and otherwise quiet my brain from the buzz of a hectic schedule. I've had this time to recharge, to fill up on what makes me whole, and build myself up, and now that I've had this time I'm ready to get back to work, to challenge myself, to foster new relationships and to learn, so much learning to come. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. My friends and family, my friends and family at Wild Friends, my career coach, and all the people who got coffee with me, cheers to new beginnings!