I never had a goal of becoming a designer when I was growing up. Like most young boys, I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot, a fireman, a police officer,… whatever I was most interested in at particular moment.
The last thing I remember I wanted to be was a “game designer/developer”. I just got my first PC and gaming was all I did. Then, at some point, I stopped thinking about what I really want to do. The life auto–pilot must have kicked in.
Primary school was a piece of cake, high school was a wake up call. I spent most of my time playing video games, neglecting school assignments. I’d come home, turn on the PC and start playing Half-Life, Command & Conquer, Civilization. All these games were so time consuming. There was no time for anything else. My grades in school started to reflect this and I failed a class. The next year I dropped out.
But there was something else I used my PC for besides gaming. I was designing websites and setting up eCommerce sites for local clients. I picked up this interest as a kid but I had never thought it’d ever be anything more than a hobby. I was setting up WordPress blogs, Zen Cart web sites and drawing interfaces and websites in Photoshop by the time I finally finished high school.
Time to get serious
After high school, just like almost anyone at my age, I went to study at a local university. “You’ll need a degree to have the slightest chances to get a job” was what everyone kept telling me. Ok, it’s probably time to get serious, is what I thought to myself. I decided to stop all the web design I had been doing and focus solely on studying. I enjoyed designing websites but it was time to quit. It was time to start focusing on what mattered in life: get a degree, get a job, earn money and everything will be alright.
What a load of bullshit. I couldn’t stay away from designing websites. By that time, I wasn’t playing video games that much anymore. I unawarely started enjoying web design more. Studying didn’t suffer at all, as I finished top class. But now, I had to find a “proper” job.
Getting a proper job
I’d just wrapped up studying and I was left with a degree that would secure me a good job. I actually believed that. But, nobody wanted a guy who was fresh from university. Finding a “proper” job proved impossible. At some point I just wanted to start working at a local electronics shop but even they didn’t want me.
After a while, I finally got a job. It was the best job in the shit hole town where I come from. The best in terms of what a 25 year old guy, fresh from university could get. So I became a Business Process Manager at a local bank which is a part of a large, global group. I had been running my own company until that, doing what I always did—web design.
But I really had to quit design this time. The corporation where I worked at required me to do so. I wasn’t allowed to run my own company and be employed there at the same time. Alright, no problem with that. I got the best job around, it’s time to fully commit to it. Right?
Well, life isn’t so easy and it certainly isn’t so simple. I hated my new job. I couldn’t stand working at that place. But what do I do? This is what I’m supposed to do right? Get a degree, check. Get a good, well paid job, check. Be happy, … hm…
I restarted doing web design work for clients a few months after I started working at that bank. It was the only thing that made me happy(er). I tried quitting twice but for some reason it stuck with me so I said to myself “fuck it, I’ll commit to it 100% this time”. I quit my well paid job and was going to freelance, just like I did before. I was presented with an opportunity to join Wondermags, a Luxembourgish startup, a week later. This was going to be my first in-house design role. The rest is history. But it turned out well for me.
The lesson of my story: don’t quit what you’re good at. Especially if it makes you happy. Commit to it 100%, no matter what and everything will be alright. Forget everyone else. Forget the money. If you do what you love, the money will follow somehow. If anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them.
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