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I work hard.

I've worked ten years as a designer and researcher. I've made things that thousands, if not millions, of people have used. I'm proud of the career I've built, the clients I've had the opportunity to work with, and most of all, the mentees whom I've had the pleasure of mentoring.

I play hard.

When I show my friends and family my art, they tell me, "you should sell these!" or "these look like something you'd see in a store." They mean it as a compliment, and I take it as one. My work has enough innate value that someone would pay me money for my ideas and execution.

Regardless, I have a hard time telling people I am taking a break. If I loved my job, I wouldn't need a break. Am I looking to switch careers? Do I have a secret project that will sell millions?

The road to deconstructing my own ingrained "hustle" is fraught. It is the force that drove me for a decade; three years ago if you asked me to stop, it would be as if you asked a fish to stop swimming. To stop hustling meant certain death.

Two years ago, I yearned for failure; I wanted the to make more mistakes; to try out things that would fail or realized I couldn't picture myself being valuable without an income and it was then I realized I needed a sabbatical to pursue things unrelated to job.

I'd like to use this time to and Why do this? Was I not happy at work? Am I trying to change careers?

I don't have a simple answer to this. I love design research, and I love design. In fact, I love it so much I've been doing it for ten years.

Five years ago, I was sitting across from my partner, who was shaking his head. "This is crazy. There's no reason we should leave Texas. We have a community here," he said.

"Yeah," I agreed, "It is." Many, many tearful goodbyes later, we left. It's a feeling the both of us had; that if we took this leap good things would come of it.

Five years later, we still miss our folks, but are surprised we don't miss living in the U.S. as much as we thought we would. And good things have come; warm dinners and new recipes, adventures with new friends, new hobbies and a new house we never thought we'd ever own.

I look like a different person. I feel like a different person. Happier, healthier, and more confident. It helps that I don't worry about where the money is going to come from if our landlord raises our rent twice in one year, or how much car repairs or a doctor's visit is going to cost. We're really lucky.

To be a designer is to cultivate a keen observational eye; to notice give words to previously unnoticed details and unspoken wishes. I've had a sense since 2020 that I needed to take a break to get some perspective and to learn skills outside of UX design. We planned for three years, and I'm happy to announce our efforts are bearing fruit. I couldn't do this without the help of my partner, who is working to support this precious time off.

I'll be focusing this year on turning my eye towards not enterprise software; but other types of media and art. I want to understand my place in a world that is getting hotter due, in part, to the greedy actions of my nation.

I'm hopeful, like I was five years ago, that if I take this leap, something good, something amazing will come out of it.