Working Through It
Back in April, I took a risk and left a toxic work environment. I didn’t have anything lined up — no new job, no freelance work — only a small savings to get me through a few months.

After I left, I spent a lot of time by myself. What now? What do I want to do next? Do I still want to be a designer? Should I switch my focus? Pursue a career in front-end development? Do I want to stay in Chicago? Needless to say, I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was or what I was interested in anymore. I felt like a shell of a person that was learning how to be a human being again.

I started scouring job boards and applied to any job that seemed interesting, which quickly spiraled into applying to every job and any job. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I felt like I had something to prove—to my family, to my previous employer, to myself—that this wasn’t a mistake. If I could manage it, I was determined to get a job within a month or two of quitting. 

I got a couple interviews, which helped my ego, and then I got a lot more rejections, which did not help my ego. By July, I found myself interviewing two to three times a week for different companies. To someone outside of this, that probably sounds impressive and it sure felt like it! I was wanted and “in demand”. However, I wasn’t interested in a lot of these jobs. Some were very clearly bad jobs and I ended up saying no to a lot of companies and took myself out of the hiring process. I found myself in the final round of interviews with a company I was excited about, but all I could think about was, what do I do if this doesn’t work out? 

During this time, I was starting to get over the fact that I had quit my job. I was still recovering, but I didn’t recognize that I needed more time than I gave myself to actually heal. I hadn’t yet taken the time to unlearn a lot of the toxic things I had absorbed over the last year. My doubts, my negative thoughts, my insecurities… they were all still there, only masked under the distraction of interviews. I started losing steam. The high of interviewing and feeling special was beginning to wear off and I was pushing myself into burnout territory. In the end, I didn’t get the job. I cried about it a lot. I needed this to work out so badly. How was I going to pay rent next month? 

Eventually, I collected myself and made a new plan. I decided that I wasn’t going to send out applications anymore. I needed to be more selective with where I put my energy, which is easier said than done. My days became more structured. I started dedicating time and space for making work for myself again. After a lot of self-reflection, I started to shift my mental focus and decided that I owe it to myself to work somewhere where I feel safe, respected, and valued. 

I wish I could end this nicely. I wish I could say, I worked hard, everything worked out, and I’m doing great! But instead, I have days where I get paralyzing anxiety about how I’m going to pay my bills. I get depressed sometimes when I think about where I’m at and where I think I should be compared to my peers. I am still very much in the process of getting to that better place, and I’m learning how to heal.
Hanan Shoubaki is a Freelance Designer living and working in Chicago, IL. She can be found on social media @sleeepybun and her website. Oh, and she’s for hire — open to freelance or full-time opportunities!
Art used in this issue: “Street in Italy” by Tina Blau-Lang
Desk Lunch is a community for all creative people of marginalized genders.

Desk Lunch is supported in part by
SuperHi, an online school and community helping creative people learn and thrive. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
View this email in your browser

Copyright © 2019 Desk Lunch, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.