Lately I’ve been taking some time out of my career path and job search to really look at what’s important to me in life.
Work is a huge part of my life, I adore the work I do and I know I’m happiest when my design and research skills are being put to good use in solving real-world problems for users/people.
However, I asked myself this question:
“What are the things that I’ve done that I’m most proud of?”
‘Being proud’ is a difficult term for me, I suspect this is true for most women/femme-folk. Modesty and humbleness is a trait that’s rather ingrained and encouraged. Balancing this instinct to be humble, support and give praise to others while still acknowledging your own contributions and achievements can feel like a plate-spinning exercise. It’s often easier to pass the praise onto other people than say “Yes, thank you I did an excellent job with this task/project”
So here I am, practicing saying out-loud the things I’m most proud of and trying not to have all of them centre on what I’ve done for others!
5. My early work in the community in Cardiff
I lived in Cardiff, South Wales for 10 years. In that time I became very involved my my local community project in Adamsdown. Initially this started out as a CV booster but really became part of my identity. I lead the Environmental group and Community Garden, supported the Arts group, ran homework clubs for ages 5–17 and held a position in the residents forum.
After being involved I realised that being active in my local community (where ever that may be) was crucial for my wellbeing. It was challenging too, I often too on too much responsibilities and stretched myself thin but I learned my boundaries and energy limits while helping others. I made amazing friends and have great memories of the impact I had on this part of the city.
Hey, check out my certificates for ‘Local hero’ and ‘Service to the citizens of Cardiff’ awards that I still keep:
4. My most recent work for Bristol Pride and LGBTQ+ spaces in Bristol
After moving back to Bristol, I wanted to find the kind of community projects I enjoyed so much in Cardiff.
After attending Bristol Pride one year I decided to send an email seeing if they needed anyone with my skills (and enthusiasm!) to help out. Turns out they did! and I am amazed to say that, along with my fellow decor volunteers, we made the Pride outdoor space even more special than it was in the past. With some amazing digital illustration, hand-painted banners and general busy-work organising we accomplished so much and I was nominated and won the outstanding volunteer award in this year 2017.
How beautiful is this award and the banners that me and the team made:
3. Staying in education and completing my masters degree
I started my masters degrees in 2012. It’s now 2017 and I’ve just finished my final major and graduating with a distinction grade and a £1000 bursary award for contributions towards harm reduction in Wales.
It was a long journey. I began the course part-time while working and completed the first year. After that first year, I had several life things happen including relationship breakdown, the health of my mother declining and then my fathers cancer diagnosis. I decided to move back home to take an active role in both my parents care alongside my sister who had just had her first child.
Staying positive and making hard decisions in how long to defer, when to pick the course back up and how to finance it solo as opposed to supported by a company were all challenges that I overcame and I’m so proud of the work that I completed and aim to carry on.
2. Being a carer (and still working)
A lot of people are carers. For children, for parents, loved ones, partners. For those with life-long chronic illness and those with terminal illness. Those with mental health difficulties and those with physical limits.
Caring is hard, no matter what the circumstances. Your personal choices become heavier, if you aren’t around, aren’t able to support yourself then the person depending on you is also impacted.
Despite being difficult I find caring immensely rewarding. Knowing that I was there to emotionally and physically support my father as he died, reminds me of my own fortitude and has gifted me with the understanding that I am resilient and able to get through the most difficult situations and grow.
1. Taking time to understand and build what I want from my career
When I was just starting out as a designer I was easy to please. No salary expectations, no particular needs, eager to please as many people as possible.
Fast-forward 9 years into my Design career and I know what I want.
An inclusive and diverse environment that celebrates peoples differences and seeks to give back to the community.
Acknowledgment of my expertise, skills and experience and support to grow and learn.
Tangible contributions that helps deal with the inequalities in the technology sector.
A wage that reflects my contribution to the company and allows me to live well and provide for my family.
Acceptance, civility, flexibility, camaraderie and working towards the same goal.
Celebrating the things that allow me to be a happy human (conveniently listed above!)
I’m taking the time to discover, refine and communicate these things well.
It’s scary, not being employed, trying things out and really analysing what fulfils me in a life where my work, my family and my community are the things I want to do well by, but I’m ready to not be easy to please if it means I’ll be happy.
So I’ll leave you with two pictures of very happy Eriol’s. One speaking about diversity in design at nonbinary.tech conference 2017 and me and my Pride volunteers at 2017’s Trans Pride in Bristol:
Be proud my friends x