I'm finally detailing my journey to becoming an Interior Designer through the careers I've attempted and the lessons I've learned along the way. Click here to readPart I of How I Became an Interior Designer
LESSON #4: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGHTS
Here was the problem with Real Estate--I didn't like to hard sell people on anything. Buying a home is a big investment and my thought was if you want it, you should buy it. You should NOT buy a home, however, because I talked you into doing so. I didn't like having to call people up and pester them about whether they or their friends wanted to buy/sell their homes in 7 days--it actually made me uncomfortable, partly because there was too much small talk involved (I don't really do small talk). I tend to be a pretty decisive person, so working with clients who were incredibly indecisive didn't feel empowering....it just felt like an energy suck. It was Divine Guidance that those I-know-what-I-want-and-I'm-ready-to-buy-right-now clients never came to me--I didn't sell a single house during those months at my real estate brokerage & in hindsight I'm thankful that I didn't. If I had, it definitely would've encouraged me to "try harder" to make that job work instead of moving towards something better. One of my strengths was my confidence & passion about the things I believed in but I found that I was neither confident nor passionate about selling real estate. So instead of trying to strengthen one of my "weaknesses"...I moved in the direction of my strengths.
LESSON #5: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT'S ALL AROUND YOU
Which brought me back to my house. By now, renovations on my 1984 fixer upper were in full swing. Prior to moving in I'd repainted the interior (which was originally pink!), removed all of the old carpet and updated the entire first floor with bamboo flooring to get the place in livable shape. Having purchased a house with SO many projects to complete I religiously read design & renovation magazines to get inspiration for my projects and devoured them like wildfire. Even though money was tight, working on my house became a mini obsession.
Late one night I stumbled across a blog and...itessentially changed my life. It was 2009 and I'd never seen a blog before (didn't even know what one was!), but I stayed up all night reading page after page of decorating & lifestyle posts. And then I clicked on a link and found another person sharing about her life & DIY projects and I.was.hooked. What was this fascinating little online world where people built community by sharing the details of their lives??! After a few weeks of spending countless hours a day reading blogs I started thinking that maybe I could do it, too. I wasn't sure that anyone would read what I had to say but I still figured, "Why not??". I reserved a name on blogspot.com (Meditations on Life & Style--which I thought was VERY cool at the time) and on May 28, 2009 I wrote my very first blog post (read it here). When I started blogging I wasn't sure what I was going to write about...but I kept going anyhow. I took advantage of all the extra space in my new house & went back to refinishing furniture as I had done in my first apartment. One day I decided to start sharing those DIY refinishing projects on my blog and it took off. As my refinishing skills increased I started selling my furniture online (Craigslist, Etsy & later, One Kings Lane) and then readers started emailing me & asking for design help. By November 2010--only 18 months after penning my first blogpost--I officially launched Dayka Robinson Designs and the rest, as they say, is (documented) history.
So as you can see, my path to Interior Design was far from straight. I "tried on a lot of hats" before I found something that fit and during those years I felt a ton of confusion, frustration & despair at my "inability" to find my way. Let me clearly acknowledge this because I don't think enough of us do: it sucks not having something to pour your heart into especially when that's the one thing you want most in the world (and I don't mean someone). So many of us are raised to "just get a respectable job" and when you couple that with the desire to do basic, normal things like live independently, own a car, treat yourself to a nice dinner and pay your bills on time, the pressure to settle for the first job offering a little bit of money is REAL...even though you know you're gonna suffocate. This road (following your heart) isn't the easiest road because much of the path is built as you walk it & no two paths look exactly the same. It is, however, the most rewarding by far. And when you have the courage to walk away from jobs (situations/people) that don't fit & continue seeking out your next true thing, you'll look back and find that you've gained an intangible education that money couldn't buy. All of those "awful jobs"?? If you keep going you'll eventually find that they all played in your favor because each one taught you something valuable about yourself or confirmed with all certainty what not to do. And even the perceived "setbacks" are a step forward--this game is a marathon, not a sprint.
In my years of searching I learned that: (1) How I feel about the work I do matters. (2) Working in a supportive environment is important. (3) If it ain't right, it ain't right. (4) Play to my strengths and (5) Pay attention to what's all around me. And you know what? Today these lessons are are as true as they ever were. They served me years ago to help find my way to interior design and now they're helping me to create an even larger vision--a holistic business that I'm incredibly proud of and excited for. 7 years ago I NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS would've predicted I'd be a successful Interior Designer....and yet by Grace, here I am. I say this all of the time but only because I believe it so deeply: whatever is calling you, run towards it as if your life depended on it. Because it does.
It's your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you but no one can walk it for you.(Rumi)
image via Hilary Maloney