Three years ago in May, I graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor's degree in urban planning. In the three years since I graduated, I've learned quite a bit about myself.
During college, I did an internship with the local housing department and became very interested in affordable housing and community development. As an urban planning major, housing fit my interests in both social responsibility and spatial planning. I continued down that path, writing papers about things like affordable housing located near public transportation and using my study abroad opportunity to study health in low income communities.
When I graduated from college, I did a few internships, got my first job, and six months later got my second job, where I've been ever since. My work right now primarily focuses on homelessness. While I remain interested in affordable housing and homelessness and love the people I work with, I have come to the realization that the work I do day-in and day-out is not the best fit for me.
As a kid, I was always interested in interior design. My parents literally had to hide packing materials from me because I would try to make something out of them. In elementary and middle school I drew pictures of the way I wanted my room to look and told my mom that I wished my furniture was light wood instead of dark (my-oh-my, how my tastes have changed). As a teenager I took on many DIY projects for my room, and happily went antiquing and furniture shopping with my mom. At thirteen I ordered college brochures from Parsons and RISD (nerd alert).
Then it came time to apply to college. I never took an art class in high school, and my knowledge of design only extended as far as my yearbook editor role. I had grown up pegged as one of the smart kids, and at the time it seemed silly for me to pursue a degree that would allow me to decorate someone's house. A few additional voices encouraged me to pursue more "serious" business than interior design, and I listened, deciding to pursue urban planning instead--still design related, but with deep roots in public policy.
Fast forward to last February when I decided to start selling my refinished and refreshed furniture, using the Lucketts Spring Market as a jumping off point. Participating in the Lucketts market was a really good thing for me because I gained confidence, and suddenly a career in design or something related seemed not only possible but well within my reach.
In the past, multiple friends made comments about needing design help. "I'm not a designer," I always insisted, thinking back to the countless times I put something on the wall and hated the way it looked there, or the even more frequent times that I would paint or refinish a piece for a specific spot in my house only to realize it was totally out of proportion when I put it there. Hell, I still feel like our living room looks ridiculous. But at the same time, I would continue conversations with those friends, rattling off sources to look for coffee tables or ideas for inexpensive artwork, giving my opinions on color, and swooning over magazine and catalog photos.
It was around the time of the Lucketts Market that I started to be a lot more honest with myself in terms of what I really wanted, and what I pursued because I thought it was what people with degrees from prestigious universities who were "smarts kids" all their lives were supposed to be doing at age 25. I knew I wouldn't be happy staying on my current path, but the idea of getting a new job in the same field didn't really appeal to me either. It was kind of like this:
OK, maybe not quite that dramatic.
Finally, I decided to stop fighting my urge to look at design blogs all the time and the giddiness I feel when I see a beautiful piece of furniture, and I applied to interior design school. Tomorrow I will attend orientation as a student in the Corcoran College of Art and Design's Master of Arts in Interior Design Program. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Yes, I'm a little terrified. OK, I'm really terrified. Not only is this an expensive endeavor, I can't seem to stop second guessing my own abilities. What if it turns out that I'm really not very good at this? What if I can't find a job or I suck at owning my own business? What if all the other girls are cooler and prettier than me? I won't be able to afford the coolest clothes!
That terror is countered by thoughts like this: What if I get to shop for gorgeous furniture and get PAID to do it?!
And slightly more serious thoughts like this: Wouldn't it be cool if I could help people in need take some kind of ownership over their spaces? Wouldn't it be neat to create spaces that make people happier and healthier?
I'm simultaneously terrified and thrilled. This is the biggest risk I've ever taken, and I couldn't be more excited about it. Let this adventure begin!