Oh Sh*t, Here We Go.

by Gina Stogran on January 24, 2021
A serene sunset on the beach, small waves are slowing making their way to shore. The calm before the sh*t storm of 2020.

For years, I have been contemplating a career change. To what? I don’t know. I’ve had many ideas, from travel agent to newborn photographer to even dental hygienist. However, I do know, from experience, that I’m not really into retail marketing. I love problem-solving and creative brainstorming, but retail marketing didn’t fulfill my creative needs. Should I go back to just being a graphic designer? Maybe. Would that choice be a step backward? Would it look bad on my resume or devalue me as an employee? I haven’t been doing much design lately, would creative departments even consider my application? Maybe it’s time to start again.

Have you searched for a job recently? Everyone hiring in my field wants a hybrid. The “perfect candidate” possesses both marketing and graphic design abilities and a proven track record in customer service. This candidate must also be a web designer, social media expert, and web developer. Additionally, possess expert knowledge of their proprietary software, 25 years of experience in just about everything, four master’s degrees in relevant subjects, and weather forecasting abilities! You see where I’m going here. Oh, and the pay range is between $14-$17 per hour.

I do have an eclectic background and skill set, but seriously!? Who ARE these people? I wish you could leave reviews or comments on job postings. That might actually make for a fun night. Curl up on the couch with the laptop and a glass of something interesting to draft some satisfyingly sarcastic retorts. Alexa, add that to my To-Do list!

Just as feelings of defeat were taking over in response to my questioning, everything changed. In an instant, it seemed as if the entire world just stopped. The world was in the grip of the COVID-19 panademic and the “Quarantine of 2020” began. (I’m just saying, it’s not a bad idea to keep a healthy stock of toilet paper at all times.)

Despite the circumstances, this shutdown of life as we knew it was EXACTLY what I needed. Everyone now forced to stay home, change priorities, eat dinner as a family, get creative with how they spend their time, and live in what I call the “in-between”.

The in-between is a tough place I visit often. It’s when your soul is ready for the next thing, but your mind hasn’t decided what the next thing is. There is no way to confidently determine what moves to make when your goal isn’t yet defined. You feel lost, broken, stuck, anxious, and alone. That is until the whole world slows down and joins you.

When everyone is in the in-between, the pressure to escape is off. The rules of life are different. With the security of knowing that this wasn’t going to last forever, we had to press pause on the future, allowing us to live in the now.

Being truly present changes you. Your priorities shift and you are free to focus on yourself without feeling selfish. You have time to just be. You can finally let go, because the realization that you aren’t in control sets in. Plus, day drinking helped. I took this time to draw. I drew and drew, covered in charcoal and skipping showers, all while taste-testing many of my husband’s cocktail creations. My BFF quarantined with us, so the creative juices were flowing and so was the fun!

Two pictures of my husbands beautifully crafted tiki cocktails and a picture of my hubby, my bff, and me on the beach at sunset.

All good things come to an end.

I went from living my best life in the COVID times, to back at work and more miserable than ever. I just couldn’t get myself back into it. I couldn’t convince myself it was worth it. Customers were calling, yelling because we couldn’t yet give them updates on exactly when their custom merchandise would arrive from the manufacturer. I listened to coworkers having to explain repeatedly that not all states or freight companies have yet opened for business, and I couldn’t help but feel that none of this matters. Life or death, that matters. Happiness and health matter. Friends and family matter. The mark you leave on the world, that matters. An extra week or two to deliver a sofa during a worldwide pandemic and shutdown, not so much. Not now. I just can’t anymore. I’ve got to do something, anything. It isn’t fair to myself, my coworkers, or the business to stay when I have nothing left to give. My heart just wasn’t in it.

Three of my charcoal drawings lined up waiting to go and get digitized.

It was Monday morning when I got the call. A coworker that I often go to lunch with was out sick. We were both required to stay home until we get a negative COVID test result. I so needed that break, and lucky for me labs were taking nearly a week to process tests. Just before the end of my mini quarantine #2, I folded. The anxiety and stress were too much, and I lost the battle. (Backstory, I have a long history of anxiety, although a diagnosis didn’t come until adulthood.) I felt defeated. No longer me. I had just spent a month being the best me I have been in so long, the real me. And just like that, I crumbled. I cried. I was done, completely burnt out.

My husband has a great job that he really loves, and I’m so happy for him. He’s an engineer. Those of you who have been in any sort of relationship with an engineer knows what it’s like. They can be what some may call overly logical, which can lead to a lack of empathy in some emotional situations. It’s just how they’re wired.

As I was attempting to suck it up, my husband looked up from his work. “Don’t let this define you. Don’t let others define you.”

He was right. And I knew it. But I’m loyal and invested in my work, so it’s hard to let go.. Then, the man who reminds me daily that I need to save for retirement told me that I don’t have to do this. “What is any of this for if you aren’t happy? We’re fine. Do what you need to do. Take time to heal your mind, body, and soul. Draw all day if it makes you happy. Pour beer at the brewery at night if you want. The money doesn’t matter.”

I didn’t know what to say. Honestly, the “mind, body, and soul” part threw me. I mean, his outlook on life has changed since our trip to Thailand last year, but not that much! Who is this guy impersonating my hubby?

“And since you’ll be home, you can work on that beach body you talked about.” There he is! Gotta love him!

That was it. I quit my job and on good terms. I have been given an opportunity to reevaluate what’s important in life, and I’ve decided it is time to give myself a chance. All of my energy will go towards becoming the artist I’ve always known I was meant to be - starving, famous, or otherwise. If not now, when, right?

This is going to be quite a journey, and I plan to share it with you: the good, the bad, and the crazy. Oh Sh*t, here we go!

Fortune cookie fortunes - A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline. - Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow.
Selfie of Gina covered in Charcoal while working.
by Gina Stogran on March 05, 2021

Thank you both so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read my posts and leave comments! I wish Shopify had an option for me to reply to each comment, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Love you both and your support is so appreciated!!

by Beth on March 02, 2021

You are a very gifted artist and you are amazing. Enjoy this awesome journey Gina and thank you for sharing it with the world!! ❤️

by Sheila Blue on March 02, 2021

Gina, wow!!! What a tremendous gift you have been given. I am not talking about your talent, I am talking about the gift to really be free and become what is inside of you, screaming to get out! A great woman, with a fantastic sense of humor, a lovely husband, and a truly talented artist as well! Can’t wait to follow your journey… the path to bliss is always a step ahead of where you were yesterday… so just keep stepping girlfriend! Love and hugs to you!! Go get em!


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