18 March, 2011  |   13 Comments


Back and back from a week in Austin, Texas.

And it was funny, I went with the very specific goal of figuring out what next to do with my career.

Do I want to continue with design and the web?
Do I want to try to make it as an entertaining expert?
Should I try this game engineering? I mean, I like throwing Adventureparties and it seems like the Next Big Thing.

And true to the spirit of these web pioneers,
every time I asked,
they replied,
“What do you want to do?”

“No,” I replied, “I do this cheese thing, this party thing, this web thing, this design thing and I’m thinking about this product thing and this speaking thing and I need to know, what should I do?”
(I mean besides the husband and kids part. Of course I do that too.)

And every time,
these web canaries replied,
“What do you want to do?”

These web pioneers.
These people who have been working in this medium since it was born, they know that unless you want, unless you want to do this, you can’t do it any other way.
That’s how the path unfolds.

Damn it.

It’s at a cross-idea with my Midwestern upbringing. Helen Jane, be smart, make a living. You don’t need to love it or even like it, just get a job and do your work.

Midlife crisis? Perhaps.

All that became clear was that I have some more work to do.
And I know some pretty rad people.

And so I wonder, what do you want to do?
Is it practical?
Is it at odds with your shoulds?
And are you okay with that?

13 thoughts on “SXSWattack

  1. 1
    Heather B. says:

    I was literally about to email you about this very topic. We started to speak and then we parted ways. So we’ll have to pick this convo up when I see you next month.

    Long story short; I am in the same place but different.

    I miss you!

  2. 2
    Allison says:

    HJ, so great to see you in Austin. LOVE your dress. LOVE IT.

  3. 3
    Sean says:

    My question is, what do you do when you don’t know what you want to do? I’m 35 and still haven’t figured that one out. However, I definitely know what I don’t want to do.

  4. 4
    Helen Jane says:

    I think knowing what you DON’T want to do is a huge leg up. I know that I love to start projects, but I’m not so great on the follow up.

    That helps me narrow my options.

    I actually also used that approach on picking items for my life list. I have no interest in bungee jumping but unless I wrote down that I never wanted to bungee jump, it seemed like something I SHOULD want to do.

  5. 5
    Kristen says:

    Girl, you’ve got the ideas. What you really need is find someone to partner with who is crazy for details. Then you could (more?) successfully do any or all of those things in true HJ over-the-top fashion.

  6. 6

    I LOVE THIS PICTURE SO MUCH. Even though I have a double chin. That’s how much I like you gals — that the memory of how hilarious this picture was to take eclipses the fact that it has now become proof that I look like THAT when I laugh.

  7. 7
    Lu says:

    Hey, I am in the same place, too. And, instead of staying at the crossroads, I am diving into an arena I have loved for a long time. I love art and photography and all things creative, but I know I have to step out of my comfort zone and pursue things that will eventually make me a living and give me the freedom I need as a creative spirit.

    So, yeah, it is okay for your passion to be at odds with what is practical. And, I am more than okay with it. Practical can be so boring sometimes.

  8. 8
    Helen Jane says:

    Lucrecer, how right is it that the first quote that jumped out at me from your site just made it all a whole lot more clear?

    “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular. ~Tony Robbins”

    I think that’s it. I have to start shedding to go for the one thing that makes my skin tingle.

  9. 9
    Bridget says:

    I want to sit on the Mediterranean coast in Italy, drink wine, eat copious amounts of pasta, philosophize about the news industry, design pretty websites/mobile applications, and get paid to do it. Totally possible, right?

  10. 10

    So funny how we are on the same path right now. And so sad I didn’t get to see you with my stint in the Austin hospital.

    Let’s catch up soon, ok?

  11. 11

    Funny, i’m going through the exact same thing and i also think it’s a midlife crisis. Although i’m way, way past the mid of my life. At any rate, i don’t know what i want to do. Part of me wants one thing which would require some work and the other part is a lazy shit that doesn’t want to do anything.

    Conundrum anyone?

  12. 12
    Helen Jane says:

    @Lynn I also struggle with this LAZY self-talk. And I’m not lazy. I work really hard. And I can tell, you do too.

    Just sometimes, I need to recharge. Sometimes, yes, there’s a time for powering through, but I feel like throwing more time and less sleep at this issue isn’t going to fix it.

    I think Twitter is sort of to blame for this, I continually see everyone’s completed projects and posts and best selves and beat myself up over how LAZY I am when I, too, should be sewing up tote bags and preserving jams and designing web sites and MORE MORE MORE throwing parties.

    But that’s it, right? Twitter’s a tool that sometimes feels like it rolls up everyone’s best day and throws it in my face.

  13. 13
    Cyn says:

    Well, I am about to end a pretty decent, work at home, web gig that I have had fro 7 years because I have no idea what I want to do at the age of 35. I think I want to do a kid birthday party business. But holy hell. Parties for kids? Am I insane?!? More importantly will I follow through?

Hooray for replies!