Sometimes we look up and suddenly find ourselves in a place of being discontent with where we are in life. I asked myself, how sudden are these places of discontentment? I believe everyone has a story to tell and I am choosing to tell mine in hopes that it will help many, however, if this story only reaches the heart of one person, that is one more heart than none!
After graduating from college, I found myself “stuck” in a dead end job where I wasn’t utilizing my talents nor was I making enough money. I’d done a few independent design projects here and there in the latter part of my college career but started to focus on my design career a little more seriously in 2012. For a while, I was able to maintain working my “9 to 5” while balancing a few graphic design projects on the side but it wasn’t long before my job started to get in the way of my dreams, ambitions, and my passion. In 2013, my circumstances at my job became highly stressful and even more uncomfortable. I was being treated unfairly and realized I was fighting a battle that in reality wasn’t mine. I took a look at my life, my career or lack there of and started to pray for instruction. I realized that I was doing exactly what I’d been doing for most of my life– allowing fear to stagnate me.
When I grow up…
What do you want to be when you grow up? I am sure we can all relate to our parents and older family members asking us this question when we were younger. Since I was about twelve or thirteen years of age my answer to that question was always I am going to be an architect when I grow up.
I’ve always enjoyed any form of art and when I was in middle school, I decided whole heartedly that I would grow up to be an architect. Yea! I would be able to draw the blue prints for some nice, big, and expensive homes. I would even be able to draw the blue prints for my dream house some day. In my spare time I would often search for photos of houses that I could print out and draw. It was very intriguing to me and I guess you could say houses had become my thing. Being an architect would be fun and I could make good money doing that, right? Being an architect sounded good to me!
And then it Happened…
By the time I was a junior in high school I noticed that all of my friends were excited about going to college. They all seemed to have an excitement that I didn’t share.
Everything was great my first two years of high school. It was a breeze! I was a member of the marching band and traveled a lot with the band to participate in parades along with other band related activities. I also started my first job working at Six Flags Over Georgia where I eventually worked my way into management position in the rides department. Everything was perfect! I hadn’t thought about where I would like to go to college but I had plenty of time to do that. It was no big deal! Now, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t a troubled student. I was a young intelligent, black female, that went to school every day. I did as I was told to do and made sure I was never an interruption in the classroom. Ya’ll know my mama (and my daddy) wasn’t having that right? Little did they know that their little architect began to become unsure of herself. My grades were always good; I stayed to myself and stayed out of trouble, but internally I just felt lost. By the time I was a junior in high school I noticed that all of my friends where excited about going to college. They all seemed to have an excitement that I didn’t share. I would pretend to be excited because that’s what I was suppose to feel right? I ignored the feeling of emptiness inside of me and continued my junior year with doubt, fear, and plain disgust. My fear turned into procrastination and procrastination turned into not completing assignments on time. My grades began to slip a little and suddenly I wasn’t performing as well in school. I have a very difficult time concentrating or paying attention during class and would often zone out into my own web of thoughts. I didn’t know what was happening to me but I knew I needed to get it together quickly because the Georgia High School Graduation testing was coming up soon so I needed to get my head back on straight. I managed to study hard and pass all parts of the graduation test but it was still this emptiness that I just couldn’t seem to shake. The feeling of emptiness and worry grew so strong inside of me until one day I couldn’t go to school. I was constantly upset and the worse part about being upset was that I didn’t even know how to explain it. It was then that I realized I had a problem and it needed to be addressed. I had held this secret feeling in for far too long. Thankfully, I had parents that were understanding, therefore, I was able to talk to them about what I was experiencing. However, none of us really knew or understood my “sudden” episode of worry and fear. I knew that I could tell my parents anything but this feeling I had inside of me was something very strange, foreign–something that not even I could even explain. I was battling severe anxiety; I experienced my first anxiety attack during my junior year of high school, but I didn’t know it.
High School Graduation and Beyond
I remember graduating from High School in May of 2004. It was such a great accomplishment, yet I was still worried about what was next to come. I still wanted to be an architect but decided to take some of my core classes at Georgia State University. I enrolled at GSU for the fall of 2004 and here I was, a freshman again! My freshman year went pretty smoothly. I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with some very interesting people from a lot of different cultures. The freedom of college life was like a breath of fresh air but I soon found myself in a very familiar situation. I started to feel lost and empty once again. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else?! I started to do some journaling because I’d read somewhere that you can learn a lot about yourself from writing. I have to say that I found this to be very true because it wasn’t until then that I discovered what triggered my anxiety. For me, any type of major change (good or bad) triggered anxiety. Any time I had to make a decision about my future I would become what I like to explain as a big ball of knots. It was also through these writings that I realized that I’d somehow gone all the way through high school and up until this point in college telling myself and others that I was going to be an architect when I grow up. The truth is that becoming an architect was an idea that someone had placed in my head at a very young age. I had somehow convinced myself that becoming an architect was actually my dream. Architectural drawing is very technical and in my honest opinion, I found it to be just plan boring! Have you ever taken a look at those blue prints?! I couldn’t do that for a living, so I set off on an adventure to find something more creative to do! I began taking some art courses at GSU. It was such an amazing experience to be around other fine artist and to see such great talents. Finally, I felt like I actually found a place where I “fit in.” What rock had I been living under?! The world of graphic design kind of fell into my lap one spring semester. I ended up enrolling into my first graphic design course because I needed an elective course and this was the only course offered at the time that would fit in my schedule. Graphic design was new to me and I didn’t even know exactly what to expect but I was eager to learn. It was there in my first graphic design class, that I felt something ignite inside of me! This thing called Graphic Design had been buried inside of me for so long. It was like a burning fire that could not be put out, therefore, I continued with more graphic design courses where I met a lot of other graphic design students who shared the same fire. Architect who, what, where? I knew graphic design was my new found love. How could I leave my love? I continued and completed my courses at GSU and graduated in December of 2010. Yes! I’d finally found what I want to be when I grow up! I had aged physically but I hadn’t actually grown up just yet.
In October 2013, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but I wouldn’t change the decision for the world. I decided to leave my dead end job. Yes that’s right, I withdrew. I quit! I surrendered! I vacated the premises of a place that I no longer needed. I had over stayed my welcome, so I packed my things and moved out. I am a graphic designer. I am an entrepreneur. I am an innovative creative professional and I am a voice for anyone who is struggling to just take that first step of faith and ignite the treasures that are hidden within. I am B Gard Graphics. I am Brittany Gardner, Your Visionary Designer.