Identity

I bet you are all thinking this post is going to be about Spencer's identity as a Korean adoptee. Nope. It's about me.

I don't really write much on here about me. Although, I have been thinking about changing that intro  ---> in the sidebar to reflect that this blog is about our life as we navigate a life as a multi-cultural family, since that's where we are right now. I feel like we are adrift in a sea of cultural influence and pressure, sometimes enjoying the ride... other times navigating the bumpy waves. But that thought is for another day.

Today, this post, is about my identity.

This is going to be long, and "rambly" but... Bear with me... cause I could use some support. OK?!

{Disclaimer: I am one of those people who need to work. Not necessarily just from a financial standpoint, but also from a sanity standpoint.}

I've been feeling a little lost in who I am lately. Pre-Spencer, I owned my own company, had a good base of clients, and was really happy with the work I was doing. Prior to running my own business, I worked for big-name ad agencies as well as small graphic design shops. My background is based in design and marketing, specifically brand development. And, at the risk of sounding conceited... I was pretty good. (I won awards! My work is in books! Blah! Blah! Blah!)

When Spencer came home, I took a big chunk of time off. I had planned for that and out-sourced many of my clients to fellow designers. I spent the next year as Mama-to-Spencer. And then, I started leapfrog*lane when we put Spencer in school part-time. But that didn't really work well. Because starting a new company in a very competitive market is not exactly a part-time job. Especially when your spouse has a job that requires more than full-time hours. So after a lot of deliberation, I shut that down.

I'm honestly a little raw about that, but I felt like there were many little "signs" and "nudges" that pointed me back towards my roots a little. One of which was getting some freelance work this spring out of the blue. OK. A really big chunk of freelance work. I was happy. I was fulfilled. I was super busy, and maybe even a little crazy... but it felt right. I also had a couple of photo shoots that I did in trade for people. That too also felt right. (And a little ironic since my original plan for college was photography, not communications design...) And now it's fall and I'm still doing some freelance work, and still doing photography. (Although it's been for me, not for others.)

I was ok with that... but still felt like I should invest some time in cultivating my own brand. I would think about cute names for the photography business... logos to associate with them, etc. I would think about names for design businesses. And what format I would want my business cards in. I would question whether I did the right thing stopping the printables business. I didn't have any answers, but I had a lot of thoughts.

And then came the straw that broke the camel's back. Last week, two people I know in life happened to say "Hey, so I see that you are a graphic designer?!" Followed quickly by, "I looked at some of your stuff online... it's nice!"

Both of which statements made my belly drop to my toes. Because here's the thing... I have NO idea what they saw. Was it leapfrog*lane stuff? Was it work for my Pre-Spencer business? Was it something else?! Gaugh!! AND, I had that moment of "Do I sell myself right now? Or no?" Because where do I direct them? What do I show them? Am I a designer? A photographer? Both?! Who do I want to be?! Where the heck is *my* mission statement?!

My resume is filled with big name companies, start-ups, and mom and pop shops. Regardless of their size, I was a stickler for keeping them on point... and always, always staying true to the brand. I also always used to hound my clients to keep their online presence up to date. As up to date as possible. But did I do this for myself?! No. Not even back in my pre-Spencer days. And now... now it's just {gaugh!} a mess. I feel like I had/have too many identities. Too many places to get all that information out to. Too many email addresses. It's kept me up at nights. Seriously. Now, I just wish I had stopped tossing and turning, and had actually done something about it.

BUT...

In all the stress this has brought, I have made two rather huge (HUGE!) discoveries. (Both of which make me feel a lot better about all that procrastination above.)

1. My former companies have run their courses. I am no longer connected to them in anything more than name. I have grappled with a lot of guilt over this. It was very hard to write that initial statement. I have a lot of emotional and physical blood, sweat, and tears invested in them. It's tough... but I really feel that it's time to move on and create a new brand, complete with a new name. Because...

2. It's not about a company. It's about me. This time I think that the brand I want to build is ME. I will never be working at the capacity I have in the past. Not because I can't... but because I don't want to.

When Spencer came home, things changed. How could they not?! Interests and passions that either didn't exist or had laid dormant became higher in importance to me. My time and how I spend it has become incredibly valuable. So if it's not spent with my family or friends, it's got to be worth something. And yes, I'm talking about monetary reward, but also karmic rewards. (There's a lot to be said for doing good.) I'm really, really proud of the design clients I take on and the work I do for them. I'm very passionate about photography. (Although fearful I couldn't "cut it" out there.) I think long and hard before I chase a job. And if I win it, you better believe it gets all the care and attention it deserves.

Up until now, I've been working with people who have known me from "back in the day" so they don't care how my invoice shows up, or what I call myself, or which email I use. But I do. I'm sure I could continue on this path of not having a current website, not having an updated LinkedIn profile. (Gosh... I don't even want to know what that looks like) I don't even have business cards! But last week I realized that no, I can't go on like this. These two people... I really like them. I LOVE the businesses they are building. I want to be a part of their success... but how can I do that when I don't even have a business card to hand out?!

I've been grappling with where to go... what road to take. I've had all this stress about not coming off as a jack of all trades (master of none), as someone who isn't in it for the long haul, and the worst thing someone could call me is "flighty." Today I had a big revelation. All of these jobs I've taken, companies I've run, work I've done... ALL OF IT is part of me. And maybe... just maybe... I can do a little bit of this, and a little bit of that... and have it build MY brand. Cause you know what?! That's who I am. Why am I not embracing this?! "This" might be a little design, a little photography, a little writing. (And psst... there may be some Korean-specific stuff coming down the pipelines.) In fact, the name of this new brand may actually be a username I've used in forums, etc for years and years and years. Who knew the perfect name may have been right here all along?

More to come...