part 2: "when opportunity knocks"

continued from part 1: "a pen and a dream"

so i had a mission statement. check. i articulated my purpose in life and, because i had achieved a moment of clarity, surely the phone call from leo and all the other agencies was not far behind.

i came to find out that there was a huge difference between having a mission statement and knowing how in the hec i was going to actually accomplish it. it wasn't long before i was back to scouring the want ads and pounding the pavement to try to get someone to give me the time of day.

i found that writing down a goal sets you on a trajectory. there's a new point plotted on your map. it's far out in the distance but at least now, you have something to focus on. the most important thing to realize is that it's not the end all, be all. getting there is still a complicated symphony of timing, effort, perseverance, fortitude and luck.

mine was far from a story about instant gratification. "girl has a dream. girl writes it down. girl lands dream job at an agency." looking back over my career, that is actually my story...but it took me 7 years of hope, apathy, risk-taking and pride-swallowing, stints at the merchandise mart and 2 software companies, and many a late night drinking and/or soul-searching (or often times both!) before i was finally standing face to face with my dream.

the company i was working for at the time was in need of a website redesign. i had gotten quotes from a couple vendors, and one was located downtown near my office so they invited me over to have a chat about the project.

i stared into the peephole of the cracking, painted red door and opened it. the office was a gritty loft space with creaky painted floors, exposed brick and ductwork, and a big midcentury meeting table at the base of a jagged spiraling staircase up to the second floor. in the blue built-in bookshelves were lifestyle and design publications (communication arts, how, esquire, dwell). on the walls, at least 50 printouts of beautifully designed website screenshots neatly taped in vertical rows—clearly a war room set up to review the latest round of creative concepts for a major cellular company client. i had to remind myself to stop staring (and drooling) as i took in the surroundings.

and then i met sol. he was a principal at the agency and he had a dark brown buzz cut, a warm demeanor and a strong yet unintimidating presence. he took me on a tour of the office (more of the same: minimalist space, cool furniture, gorgeously designed printouts, only this time i could also see the chuck-taylor clad hipsters pulling off pieces of tape to affix their masterpieces to wall, and convening around the office to discuss why they made this image so big or that font so small). i was exhilarated.

we got to the conference room and talked. about dk. about their work. about creative inspiration and brand singularity. about my website project. but also about me. about my background. about life in general.

after that, i had made up my mind. i went there to hire them for a job...and left wishing to god they'd hire me.

a few days later, i got the email.

"hi celia. it was so nice to meet with you. i enjoyed our conversation. hoping to hear some good news about the website project. but also, as a side note, we're hiring and i wondered if you might know of any good candidates."

my heart stopped. the stars had aligned. at this very moment. with the biggest opportunity of my life.

[up next: part 3: "stepping over the edge"]