My heart is filled with gratitude.
Ending another difficult year carrying love.
I was ready to quit design in 2020. I was tired of the state of design and tech; privileged, ignorant, complacent. I was ready for something new. Then the death of George Floyd changed the world. His death wasn’t the first senseless death of Bla(c)k people, not even in that year. Amid a pandemic, the world shifted, not insignificantly, and simultaneously, not enough. The conversations about race, discrimination, accessibility sometimes seem a bit easier.
Or maybe I was simply lucky to meet new people who are kinder. Maybe I have learned how to say no, ask for what I want, and create healthier boundaries in my work and personal life. Maybe the years of working on myself and my career have finally paid off. Maybe it’s all the above. Maybe some of us realised the world needs to be different from before, and I mean a lot more different than before. So, things are getting better, however incremental — a silver lining perhaps.
Just as the pandemic started to sweep the world, I quit my well-paying job. I got more serious about building a small business while looking for short-term design work to pay the bills while beginning to transition away from full-time work and chasing a lifelong dream. The pandemic, of course, changed all of that. I burned through my savings, struggled to find sustainable work. I scraped by until Jan 2021, when I secured contract work. But then, I couldn’t stop the leads from coming in.
In Vietnamese, the word “nghề nghiệp” means a job you do for a living (“nghề”) or, more broadly, a career. On the other hand, the word “nghiệp” (loosely translated as “karma”) means life sometimes surprises you. I often think about how my mum couldn’t be a journalist as she wished, working her whole life in hospitality. And maybe my big dream will be delayed indefinitely. Maybe design is not done with me yet. Nevertheless, I’m okay with it.
Weirdly, 2020 healed me more than the pain that it has left. 2020 felt huge, and I feel more whole than I’ve ever been. I stopped fighting myself and started to fight people’s misperceptions of myself instead. Then 2021 was a blur, pain and joy mixed like an undiscovered colour. Above all, I am grateful that everyone in my family is healthy, the good work I have achieved, and the life I’ve built for myself.
As 2022 is around the corner, it feels like everything would explode wide open, in the best way possible.
I hope I’m right.