Rest. Reset. Repeat.
We spent a decent chunk of the last couple of years doing things we loved.
I’m sipping a warm cup of hot chocolate while settled on a couch next to our living room window. The autumn light grows dim as the days become shorter. My body is high on dopamine as I shift my focus to the world beyond the glass.
I’m feeling great about this moment.
Six months ago, things looked a lot different. I was in full-blown panic mode as I tried to figure out how to navigate a difficult job market. Things felt hopeless for some time and I even considered switching to a different career.
But let’s rewind back to 2020 when I had left my full-time job to pursue an idea. I wanted to build something that could help immigrants feel more connected with their families back home. I had no idea what I was going to build yet but I knew that I needed to start by conducting research on the topic.
Suddenly the pandemic changed the world and shifted people’s priorities. My idea soon became unrealistic. Not a problem, I can always pivot to a relevant problem. While trying to figure out the next direction, I decided to take on a couple of consultancy work to help contribute to our daily expenses.
For some time, things went by smoothly–we moved to LA and lived an inexpensive lifestyle. Jeremie also left his job to pursue something new and we lived off of our savings as well as the income from my freelance work.
We spent a decent chunk of the last couple of years doing things we loved like exploring places, learning new things, taking classes (I finally got to take a design systems class!), waking up whenever without an alarm going off, and building things that matter. Life was good.
Weekdays blurred into weekends. However, it wasn’t like we were just sitting down and doing nothing. We integrated structure into our days so we could still focus on our goals. Eventually, my project began to take shape and I was ready to take it further when…
…sh*t hit the fan
As 2022 rolled in, an unexpected life event made me reconsider our plans. I realized (and probably already knew in the back of my head) that there were people who needed us back home. I’ll skip the details for now but to get straight to the point, we hit a financial, emotional, and mental challenge that was out of anyone’s control.
I decided to put my project on hold to find a stable job. Getting back into the workforce was not a concern for me. I actually enjoy creating stuff and solving problems. The bigger challenge was that I came looking for a job at a very precarious time.
In late 2022, companies began to lay off thousands of employees and froze their hiring process. With thousands of people unemployed, the remaining open roles saw an influx of candidates (sometimes in the hundreds!!) desperately applying and hoping to get a callback.
Rejection emails came in waves even when I thought I did pretty well in the interviews. I knew I had the skills and could show measurable proof of success in my portfolio. But there were hundreds of other applicants (mostly coming from prominent companies) fighting for the same role. I coped by trying not to take the rejections personally. Of course, this was easier said than done.
The financial setback was one thing but Jeremie and I were also dealing with the emotional and mental toll of losing someone we loved. It was hard to focus on interviews but I continued to keep pushing myself.
The irony of it all
And then one fine day, I received a pleasant surprise in my inbox. It was an offer–a good one too! The big irony is that the company that hired me turned out to be a finance company! In August, I started working at Visa. It’s a lot different than the companies I worked with in the past.
Visa is a lot more systematic, definitely bigger, and has way more stakeholders to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I was nervous when I first got the job. I had no background in finance but as a designer, knew that my strength was in understanding different types of people and finding solutions that made sense to them.
Life so far
It’s been three months and I’m enjoying the challenging projects I’ve worked on so far. I’m also pleasantly surprised that there is a good sense of work-life balance at Visa that allows me to enjoy my weekends.
Things are starting to look up but I know we’re not out of the woods yet. With so many life-changing events that happened in the last few months, our perspectives have changed. We know that things will never go as planned but you just have to keep going. We grow a little older each day, continue to learn, and live life.
It also helps that since moving back to San Francisco (for work), we’re able to walk outside more and immerse ourselves in a greener setting. I think there’s a reason why we ended up back here. There’s something magical about this city–it keeps pulling us back in to it.