I write to you halfway through my Road Trip from New York to Los Angeles from the beautiful home of my sweet friend, Kathleen Shannon, in Oklahoma City. I feel refreshed after early-to-bed & early-to-rise, having slept on the planet's most comfortable bed. Kathleen's home is probably how I'd imagine my dream home, if I had to imagine it. Perfectly decorated and mostly modern, but with a ton of earthy, rustic pieces that feel appropriate both for the South and for Kathleen's warm personality. I think the trip is serving its purpose, but it's kind of hard to tell. The further I get, the more I feel like I'm in a huge cloud of confusion. There is some type of a mental wall I've felt since I made the decision to make this life change that I haven't been able to completely identify, let alone conquer. The block comes when I've had an idea for something I'd like to do, but once it comes time to put any plan into action, I freeze. I feel like there's pressure to have every move I make be the right one. Like I'm about to make the final three-point shot at the end of a tied basketball game, and everyone's watching as my ball flies through the air in slow motion, headed for the net as the clock runs out... But that's just fucking ridiculous. And what I'm realizing is that everyone, together, has nothing figured out.
Last Saturday, I left my apartment in Brooklyn, drove down to Baltimore with one mom, one cat, and all my stuff. I then dropped off the mom, the cat, and half of my belongings, and shoved the rest of it into my 2003 Hyundai Sante Fe, headed for Shenandoah National Park. As per usual, I was running behind schedule, so by the time I reached Skyline Drive with the intention of traveling the 105 mile pass through the mountains to my destination in Southern Virginia, it was dark and the road was closed. I went the rest of the way the direct route, and spent the first night in a long time truly alone. When I say "alone," I don't mean just without another human. For the first time in a very long time, I had no residence, no city to call home, and no job. I had no landlord, no bills due, no cat to tend to...nothing but the life I had packed in my car and the relentless support of my family and friends. This freedom, however, has been neither easy to realize nor digest. A dream is a wish your heart makes...but when your head as to try to wrap around it, it can be a bit of a trip.
In a conversation with a Twitter design friend the other day, I was confronted with my feelings on Design and my Career. His tweet had me replying with a flurry of deep thoughts like— What does it mean to be a "good" designer? and What does it mean to be a "better" designer than before? I started questioning my love for both the craft and the industry of design. I thought maybe I was so jaded, I had lost my love for it, and I wished I could get it back. However, this reaction seemed a little extreme and unreasonable. I still draw letters as therapy and am filled up when I see sound and beautiful design. I knew I had to dig into this feeling and try to find out what was really going on. On second look, I saw that I still loved design but the things that had thrilled me at 23 years old weren't the same as what excites me at 28. This isn't destruction, this is evolution. And it is natural. Upon realizing I was being a total internet bummer, I deleted all of my introspective tweets and apologized for bringing down the party. This friend showed support for not being afraid to admit I didn't have it all figured out. I said I never would, and he assured me I wasn't alone. "Good," I said, "because I can deal with being clueless, but I couldn't deal with being lonely."
The road block I have felt when trying to make decisions to write, speak, or take on projects since leaving my job, I now realize, is rooted in the fear that as I get older, I have it less and less figured out. But it turns out that I'm not alone. Between the incredibly hospitable & generous friends that have hosted me on this trip, internet friends I've never met, and all the rest of the awesome people in my life, I realize that no one has it figured out & probably never will. But if I establish that here and now, and start from there with everything I do, the massive weight of the big picture is lifted off of my shoulders, the fear I once felt turns to freedom, and the curtain of doubt starts to part. The liberation of leaving my life in New York becomes easier to swallow, and I can start to reap the benefits of this otherwise-terrifying leap. So I'm starting from nowhere. I'm starting from imperfection, and from knowing that the things I say now might sound completely ridiculous in a month or 6 or 12. But we all sound ridiculous to our former selves, and sometimes to each other. But if we start from there, we can all hold hands & make a circle around our cluelessness and keep sharing ideas and making art anyway. Because I can deal with not knowing a damned thing, but I couldn't stand to be without you.
For daily updates on the Road Trip, follow along on Instagram.