I quit my job. With nothing lined up.

I should probably be freaked out about it, and every once in awhile I am, but I have an important reason for doing it. Over the last ten years, I've been a graphic/web/user experience designer, working on solving other people's problems as my own problems sat in a vault. Every once in awhile I could hear a tap from the inside of the vault — let us out, we have a voice that needs to sing — but I would just turn the volume up on my headphones and reluctantly dive back into the work I had to do. I padded that vault with small projects here and there to muffle the voices coming from inside — moving from job to job in search of a new creative project, focusing on interior design and reworking my homes again and again — all in an effort to quell the voices that got louder and louder.

I thought the voices I heard from the vault were telling me I needed control of my environment, both creatively and day-to-day. I found that in 2012 in the form of a budding startup that needed a designer to brand them, create amazing experiences for them, and help define the culture of design and creativity within the company as it grew. As employee four, and ultimately Head of Design, I had a unique opportunity to flex my creative muscles and define the shape of a lot of things. But as the company grew in its success, so did the number of challenges that ultimately clawed away at the barrier I had built up around my vault. I started to hear the voices again, and grew concerned, since I had what I thought they wanted me to have. I began painting as a way to hush them but ultimately life took over and the volume on the headphones became deafening. I flitted through life, stepping from one life event to another in a daze. I started seeing a therapist, taking Prozac and Wellbutrin and trying to practice meditation exercises as frequently as I could remember. I started to think this was just how it was supposed to be. I was miserable.

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And then I read this article. The fire started small again, but this time it burned deeper, hurt more. I suffered the fire for 2 more years, until my 30th birthday when I removed myself from the world, hung with the Mayans, stared at the ocean and read several books (including Elle's "The Crossroads of Should and Must") that have led me to this moment. Well, the moment two months ago when I gave notice with a jumbled reason of being "ready for my next thing". I was still processing it—it aligned with other company events, and I took it as a sign—but knew I must do this. I found the combination for that vault and let it fly open, years and years of musts pouring out. To say it's been overwhelming is an understatement, but I must wade through it. It's hard to explain it to others—others who are so used to 'work', to having to be in an office from 9-5, that that is the status quo, the requirement. But it was a should for me, and I felt trapped, as I have for almost 10 years.

As though the planets had aligned, Elle's 100 day challenge began shortly after I gave my notice.

I raced to the art store and spent $300 on supplies. New brushes, canvases, paint and more paint. I went back 3 days later for more. And again a week later. My must is exploring my art, my desire to create, in a way I never had before. I've always dabbled in art, excelled at it in high school and college, but ultimately an artist should go into a field that is secure, i.e., design. And that's when the vault was built.

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But the vault is no more. Our library got turned into a studio. I spend at least an hour a day in there, and on weekends, most of the day. I explore techniques that are foreign to me, try to find my voice and answer the call. I hope to produce a body of work that resonates with an audience and allows me to find some viability in the call. But I'm keeping an open mind and giving myself a couple months to explore and see what becomes of it.

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I feel like I have so many gifts to give the world, that I actually enjoy pursuing, and now is the time to explore them. Perhaps Atypical Notion will stay as is, perhaps it will turn into something else — but it's time. It's been time for awhile, and its finally time to quit hitting snooze. I can't wait to show you what I can do.

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