A woman contacted me recently and asked if I would design a book cover for her. She had seen my website and several other pages I have (like Twitter, Guru and Facebook). On those pages I frequently mentioned my graphic design background. I worked for almost ten years after college as a graphic designer in a variety of jobs, but I left the field due to multiple lay-offs and the frustration of working with demanding clients. I still enjoy doing design work, but mainly for friends and my church. I’ve done our church bulletin for several years now and recently starting working on flyers and mailers for our writing critique group.
So I agreed to help her out. I advised her that I was a little rusty, but she still agreed to move forward.
I dove into the work and was excited to get back in the mix of things. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how drastically the programs have changed, or how expensive they had become. I downloaded a free, thirty day trial of Photoshop and started, but I quickly became deterred. Although the program was similar, I found myself struggling to get over my learning curve. It was not coming back to me as it should and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear bearing down on me. Now I remembered the other reason I had quit this profession: the stress.
It wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t get the photos to mesh together the way I wanted. The light wasn’t quite right of this photo so I tried another one. Then another one. I spend hours looking for photos to use only to figure out I couldn’t make them blend (and bend) to my needs. I was struggling and failing. My self-esteem took a major hit as things kept working against me. I would chalk this up as another failure on my already LONG list.
After a few days work I reluctantly gave up. My failure was hard to swallow, but I could not move forward and the current results were not professional enough to provide to the client. I didn’t want to waste any more of her time so I reluctantly wrote her an email explaining my failure. I felt like a dog with its tail between its legs waiting for the master to scold it. Convinced she would be upset at the waste of time and the unfinished product, I hit the send button and braced myself for the response.
When I saw her return email in my inbox, I clicked on it with trepidation, but I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Her graciousness floored me. She commended my honesty and dignity, saying she appreciated that I didn’t try to move forward with an inferior product. I never imagined she wouldn’t be upset. I instantly felt better. Wiping my brow, I deleted the mercy filled email and chalked it up to a lesson learned: no more graphic design work.
A few days later I received another email from this same woman. Uh oh, I thought, what did I do now? Once again, I clicked the email with an overbearing sense of fear and once again she surprised me with her words.
She wanted me to edit her work instead of creating a cover for it. She had read some of my writing and needed a “last look” at the work before getting it published. I was honored and astounded. What I had perceived to be a major failure had now come back to bless me in a new way. Thanking God for this new challenge, I readily accepted her generous offer and began editing her work.
I finished it today. Not only will I be paid for this work – so I can call myself a genuine “editor” – the book also was very good and I cannot wait to obtain my copy once she has published it so I can share it with others. Plus, I have a new contact and, I hope, a friend.
So. After a week of stress and over thinking – it worked out even better in the end than I had ever imagined. Isn’t that so indicative of what we do to ourselves everyday?
What are you over thinking today that you can let go of? Take that first step of faith – you might be surprised by the path you are on once you stop and let it go (isn’t that a famous song right now?)
If you’d like me to edit, proofread or critique your work – give me a shout.