Designers Have Life Insurance

Just a week ago my old company had another huge round of layoffs.  They called it a furlough but chances of rehire don’t sound the greatest.  When I started at the firm in early 2008 the office was 350 strong.  If I have done my math correctly, it has now been whittled down to a third of that.  When I heard of the furlough I called my friend and former co-worker who had survived many RIFs (Reduction-In-Force) this past year and a half. Just listening to his anxiety and worries, I could tell he was deeply troubled.  His words reminded me of when I had the ‘layoff-monkey’ on my back every day; I do not miss  that in the least.  My friend and I had not checked in with each other for about eight months, so there was a lot to talk about when he asked me how I was.

This holiday season started out rough for me. I’m the type of person who looks back at the year’s progress every December.  This time last year I was living with my parents in South Dakota, studying for my final ARE exams and still trying to grasp this thing called ‘Unemployed in Architecture’.  Regardless, I was brewing up big hopes and expectations for 2010.  Certainly I would be practicing architecture again by the end of the year!  So when this December came around I was bitter that I didn’t have what I asked Santa for.

That all changed when I caught up with my friend.  I started to tell him of all the adventures I had, the friends I made, and the accomplishments I achieved. And in the middle of my story telling, the holiday spirit came upon me.  I became grateful. Though this year didn’t turn out like I had planned, it still was pretty darn good.  I did in fact have many reasons to celebrate 2010.

All I wanted then was to give my friend rest, peace and maybe a little bit of hope that getting laid-off isn’t the end of living. Oh sure it’s a freakin’ rollercoaster ride!  But what it allowed me was a clean slate to design my life.  We all know that in designing there are ideas, theories, sketches, study models, critiques, revisions, more critiques, and production.  It’s not easy and the design is never done.  Apply that idea to life and I get excited. YES!  Because I enjoy design, by designing my life I am insured that it will never be boring, never be mediocre, and never lackluster. It takes courage and faith.  My friends who have been laid off have gone on to do some extraordinary things. One traveled to India, another started grad school in Scotland, and another became a barber because he liked the idea of it.

Throw that creative spirit into what you want your life to be and there’s a whole lot to look forward to.

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