Bye, bye, bye, Architecture

I left my full time job last week. It’s still really surreal. My last day at O+A was last Wednesday and it was a crazy blend of bittersweet emotions from saying goodbye to people I’ll miss daily, but also a whole lot of “I’m ready to get the heck out of here” feeling! Oh, you’re probably wondering why I left my job… I have finally decided to just do my own thing. That “thing” is a little hard to describe at the moment because it’s really a lot of things. I’m going to be focusing on building and growing this blog even more, which means a lot more cooking and a lot more writing! I’m also going to be scheduling a bunch of workshops for the remainder of the year! My first dumpling workshop is less than 2 weeks away!!! Holy cheese balls! I’ll also be doing a bit of intimate catering, making cute cakes (one of my cute cakes made onto Zola’s blog, check it out!), organizing pop-up dinners, painting, designing on the side, and who knows what else! I might even try working at a bakery for a little bit… WHO KNOWS?! I’m keeping my expectations open and limitless. I’m excited to try all the things and see which I love more and what feels like it’s really going to stick. More than anything, I’m excited to work on things that make me HAPPY. I’m excited to be able to focus more on my love for food and feeding people, instead of trying to combat the mental exhaustion of working full time during the week and forcing myself to work every other hour that I had. Not that it took too much forcing because I loved to do it. But you know what I mean, a lot of times after work you just want to eat carbs and watch Law and Order SVU for the rest of the night.

I’ve been consistently working on Eat Cho Food for a little over 2 years now. Before Eat Cho Food, I was also Ms. Side Hustle. I’ve always enjoyed juggling multiple projects, learning new skills (any OG fans remember 4 years ago when I taught myself handlettering????!), and staying creatively busy. For the last 2 years, I’ve been scheduling the hours of my weekends and after work to keep Eat Cho Food on track. My calendar was full of time blocks that reminded me that I needed to write tonight, edit photos on Wednesday, and recipe test all weekend. I would even block out time for “Fun Things” like going on a hike with Reuben or the occasional park hang or dinner with friends. But in the last 6 months or so I found myself filled with anxiety when I wasn’t working on the blog. It’s all that I ever wanted to do! Eventually, it got really hard to balance my full time job as a designer with my around the clock work on Eat Cho Food. The unbalance of both of these parts of my life were having a negative effect on my mood and my relationships with people. I was tired and anxious a lot. I was anxious at work because I just wanted to get my work over with so I could get home to work on what I really wanted to focus on. But I was also anxious at home because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to work out all the kinks in a recipe or have adequate time and mental space to shoot and style a post. Vicious cycle. I also felt like I wasn’t being a great friend anymore. Finding time to hangout with people on the weekends was very hard for me because, as you’ve probably already guessed, I just needed to work. Not that I value a mochi cake over hanging out with real life humans, but I needed to keep working hard towards a dream. Most people understood that, but I’m excited to have actual weekends back! I’ll probably still be working a lot, but at least now there is a little flexibility.

You’re also probably wondering how I got to this decision. Or maybe you’re not? I’m going to tell you the abridged version anyways. This wasn’t some epiphany that suddenly dawned on me. When I started Eat Cho Food, I never thought anyone would read it and I definitely never thought I was going to be able to make a career out of making dumplings and the food I grew up eating. As I kept sharing recipes and kept writing my stories, more people seemed to care about what I was putting out there into the scary vastness of the internet. It started to feel more realistic to me the last few months, that I could actually do this whole food blogging thing as a career. At the same time, I’ve been grappling with leaving architecture and design. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 13 years old. For over half my life I’ve dedicated my life and the choices I made to being a designer. BUT as I’ve been working professional for the last 6 years, I’ve quickly realized that this is just not for me. I still love design. I still love architecture. That is never going away. I’ve worked in firms where the projects were soul-sucking but they provided you all the comforts of life so you never had to try too hard to succeed, but this complacency killed me. I’ve also worked at a firm where the projects were exciting but they made you feel small and gave you a label that never truly represented you. That also killed me. I have a problem with people telling me what I can and cannot do.

I remember the moment I mentally decided I was going to leave my job. It was a few months ago. I was working on the most terrible project. I stayed late to work on our presentation every night leading up to a meeting and was just so exhausted. We sat in our meeting, clicking through the pages and pages of design we slaved over and the client’s reaction was just “meh” and overall not very nice. I remember sitting in that conference room, with the presentation still running, I just got lost in my own thoughts for a bit and thought to myself, “this is NOT it for me”. I was done working towards something I didn’t really care about. Something that didn’t make me feel good about myself. Something that wasn’t really utilizing the skills I had. Something that didn’t make me happy. So I went home, told Reuben my plan, and put on my calendar the day I was going to quit my job. During those months, I really kicked it into high gear and kept that date in my head. I reached out to as many brands as I could to see if they wanted to work with me, networked with more people I’ve ever networked with (I hate the phrase networking, btw), and generally tried to figure out how I was going to survive in the most expensive city in the America without a steady paycheck. I’ll let you know how that goes in a few months.

As I embark on this new journey on my own, I’m feeling all sorts of excited and scared. If anyone says that it’s not scary to take the leap they are lying. When I feel scared, I try to just think about the people who believe in me. My family (somehow my parents didn’t freak!), Reuben, Reuben’s parents, my friends, and you. Thank YOU for supporting me. Even by just spending a few minutes to stop by and read my blog means the world to me and helps this little blog keep on going.

Alright, gotta get back to work! My boss is crazy about time management : )

 
Eat Cho Food - Kristina Cho