Stop complaining about being young, you’re just pouring the foundation.

I had my first “real” job in 2001. Working for a company called Fineline Marketing Group. I was a designer there. It was a small 4–7 person company and we did anything and everything that our clients needed. Brochures, photography, printing, logos, websites and anything and everything in between. If we didn’t know how to do it, we figured it out. That was 15 years ago. I would drive from our duplex in the suburb of Elgin to Elk Grove Village where the job was. It was probably 10 miles, but it would take 35 minutes. I hated it. I hated feeling like a cog in a machine as I drove on the freeway with all the other sad cogs in the machine. It really made me angry honestly, I felt the anger and push back in my belly every day. I can feel it now even as I think about it. I would just think, “I wasn’t made for this, this is not what I am supposed to be doing, I wasn’t built to sit on my butt at a computer all day.” The more I said these kinds of things to myself, the more I felt them. I created a habit of discontentment. I cannot over-emphasize how much I hated going to work everyday during this time. I once even told my boss that, “I wasn’t wired this way.” I am thankful he didn’t fire me now that I look back at it.

2 things counteracted what I was going through internally though. The first is that I was naturally good at being a designer. I pushed and made what could have been thought of as bottom-of-the-barrel work into something I was proud of. I think my boss knew that. Second, I care about what other people think. Which helps me not be a jerk. Most of the time I would put on a happy face and just do the work and make the best of it. Caring what other people think helps them like you, don’t get me wrong that can be unhealthy sometimes, but also very helpful in not having your boss fire you.

I moved on from Fineline after 2 years to another agency. It was a bit bigger. Better clients and more creative work but I hated that too for a long time. I didn’t have a human coach or a mentor during this time, I figured most things out on my own through struggle and turmoil. I wish I would have relaxed some. No one told me I was building something and that doing the work and showing up every day was pouring a strong foundation. I thought I was wasting time because I couldn’t see the beautiful house that would show up one day in the future on that foundation.

School and college are probably just developing the land to be ready to pour the foundation. Our first jobs then, if we are lucky, are pouring the foundation. Then we start to add things like the frame, then electricity and water, insulation, wood, drywall & plaster. It takes long time to start picking paint colors and finishes. Most of the work of the beautiful houses we see goes in the beginning. The beautiful finishing touches come in at the end but get all the credit. Those are the things people notice, but they aren’t thing thing that got the house there.

So, here we are 15 years after that first job. Time offers so much clarity. Nowadays, I get the privilege of working on huge events, large book launches, amazing apps, and websites that millions of people interact with. I have a tendency to get my hands into everything. That is partly because of who I am, but also because 15 years ago I started working, showing up everyday and doing anything and everything to get the job done. I was pouring a foundation that would be able to hold up what came in the future.

Earlier I said I didn’t have a human coach talking me through every step, that’s true, but I think I had a divine coach who put me in situations where he gave me the opportunities to learn the basics. He wanted to see how I would handle it, then he would give me the next thing and see how I handled that. I have by no means made it. He is still doing the same things now. He is always putting me in situations I am not sure I can handle, but I am going to show up and do the work. Maybe one day I’ll get to the finishing touches.

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