It’s probable that you’re immediately wondering why on earth I would open my very first blog post as a Challenge Detroit Fellow with a picture of myself.
I promise I’m not a narcissist. Especially when it comes to pictures. In fact, you’ll find photographs of myself to be few and far in between. More often than not, you’ll find me behind the camera. So often, in fact, that being on the other side has become strange to me. I take an average of two selfies per year. In the tens of thousands of photos you’ll find on my computer, I would challenge you to find 20 that are of only me.
My supervisor captured this shot of me in the office this morning. In need of a head shot of me for the website, he took several minutes to set up a spot right outside of my cubicle. Pulled a chair over. Assessed the lighting. Pointed the camera in several different directions…
I tend to tune in to the creative spirit in individuals as soon as I meet them. And when it comes to artists, there’s a vast spectrum. When I accepted a position on the creative team at my host company, I didn’t know what to expect. “Creative” holds different meanings for different people. But during my second week there, I ventured to Greektown for lunch with my supervisor and several other creative directors at the company. I quickly noticed that his camera, much like mine, had become a part of his body. I watched him creatively tune in to his surroundings. Stop and take photographs. Ask strangers for permission to take their portrait. Check in and out of the physical world. It was during that lunch that I realized I had somehow, some way, by some crazy stroke of luck, ended up among the type of people I had spent the past year searching for.
When I first saw this picture, I didn’t even recognize myself. I thought, who on earth is that happy, professional woman staring at me? She has herself together! She has life all figured out! What is her phone number? Maybe she can give me some advice…
Allow me to explain.
Shortly after I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, I uprooted myself from my tiny hometown of Bay City, Michigan and moved to Novi with hopes of a better job market and dreams of a position as a Graphic Designer. A little over 6 months into the job hunt and post grad life, I was in a relatively dark place. I was stuck on the hamster wheel, serving at a corporate restaurant and struggling to pay my bills. I kept getting interviews, but none of them ended with a job offer. I was feeling incredibly homesick and overwhelmed. I was exhausted, uninspired and losing hope and motivation. I had become completely disconnected from my work, and desperately missed spending my days in the studio on campus surrounded my likeminded students and professors who sparked my creativity and challenged me as an artist and designer. I felt stuck, and my confidence was low.
The Challenge Detroit application and interview process was such a whirlwind, my acceptance into the program and job offer from my host company didn’t even set in for the longest time. Suddenly, the start of my career was right in front of me. It was then that a certain level of dread and worry set in. I had accepted a position with little idea of what I was in for. When you consider all of the feelings that I described above, it’s no wonder that I didn’t consider the possibility that I could end up in the perfect place.
But I did.
In this picture, I’m confronted with a new version of myself that I haven’t become acquainted with yet. And quite honestly, one full month into my time with my host company and as a Challenge Detroit Fellow, I’m still not sure where she came from or how she’ll move forward. I’m not sure what she has to say about Detroit. I’m not sure what she’ll bring to the city, her team or the program. Reflecting on the past month and my journey to this new, unfamiliar and incredible place is the only thing I feel that I can truly and authentically share right now. In addition, I think it’s important to share some insight about myself so that the perspective you’ll find in my future blogs may be better understood.
As I continue this process of reflection and wrapping my head around everything, the only conclusion I have found my way to is…
I am in the right place. At the right time. With the right team.