Writing A Love Letter To A Specific Life Problem With My Non-Dominant Hand
I Had To Know What My Recent User Experience Design Immersive Pre-Course Work (And Exam) Was All About
It was back in July 2019, a Saturday night that the desire to become a User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI) Designer came out of the blue. This was no ordinary Saturday night, although the most recent events were a blur; learning how to make a few basic drinks in a bartending course (my desire was to move from corporate to hospitality at the time). Who knew that making a few G&T's from scratch between moi and the trainers stopwatch would be so life changing. Then again, a psychic told me that if I decide not to pursue bartending, that I'll work in IT instead - and that I'll be good at it. #bingo
At one point, I was contemplating a career as a developer, as I enjoyed coding, although I wasn't sure that I could code all day, every day without going insane...even though I fell in love with a back end programming language named after a precious gemstone...enough to fly to my old stomping ground (Melbourne) to learn it at an introductory level. (HTML...I really like you too. CSS...we're getting there.)
Therefore, the process to quit my position as a coveted Aftersales Manager & Trainer for a property company after 7.5 years started to happen...although I had been with this company in the same role for 11 out of the 18 years I have been working. (It had to happen. I was super ill/burnt out/stressed from the demands and responsibilities of this role.) My plan was to fully retire for six months, yet the universe led me to pursue a few chilled out entry level part-time jobs (with one being in the hospitality industry right now) these last five months; and during this process I also had to jump through a few hurdles to get into the prized User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) program at General Assembly (GA) in Sydney.
My brain was poked and prodded during this process of getting that precious Red logo on my LinkedIn profile...a meaty meal ticket into IT. There were lengthy questionnaires, as well as an assignment where I had to design an app (low fidelity) in only 7 days. I am not sure if my (delayed) visit to the fang doctor at the time was a help or a hindrance, as I got a second wind that same afternoon in terms of completing this tough assignment. Then I had an interview with the admissions producer. I was (and still am surprised) that they loved my assignment, where I demonstrated the UX process: Research - define - iterate - prototype - test. (Then iterate as necessary). I got offered a place in the UXDI on the spot. Wow. #celebrating (Normally GA take 72 hours to get back to you post-interview). Then a 15 hour a month paid UI Designer Assistant mentorship got offered to me. Difficult work at the best of times...especially when interrupted.
Come 2020, the pre-course work (30-40 hours of study) came knocking on my door, a couple of weeks prior to when I decided to get stuck in. (I have to thank my chocolate shop employer for being so quiet...hence making this possible.) I was struggling on the wire flows module, and then on visual design. I was about to drop out and walk away from my UX Design career. And my office mentorship wasn't fully pleasant...the culture that is. It just seems easier, safer and more comfortable to stay working at the shop, rather than going ahead with a program that will cost me $13,500 to participate in.
The added pressure that was unconsciously self inflicted gave me a head cold, when I normally don't get sick. Not to mention wild, torrential rain in Sydney (we needed it) when it came time to sit my readiness exam (yesterday, as at the time of writing this). Final score: 11/20 - only taking around 30 of the required 45 minutes to complete. I was still hard on myself, as I expected to do much better for what was an open book exam, with the UXDI starting in exactly three weeks (again, as at the time of writing this) from now. Naturally panic is setting in, while socialising and working around 30 hours a week is my reality right now. (Plus taking care of my own business.)
In addition to my daily meditations, I decided to engage in a technique that my spiritual teacher Angela Hryniuk taught me to do, in order to access what my unconscious is thinking right now in relation to the drama that moving into a career in UX Design is (now was) causing me, until I wrote a letter to my UX studies with my non-dominant (in my case left as I am right handed) hand.
There is immense power in writing a letter to a specific issue with your non-dominant hand (that is, the hand you do not write with). This technique forces you out of your head, and into your heart. You're present and writing down what comes up right here, right now about the specific life issue you're writing about. The unconscious mind is wanting to protect you (that is its prime directive), yet it wants to give you information about that specific issue from its memory packet on this issue. From engaging in this exercise (writing love letters with the non-dominant hand), there are instances where the conscious (active, thinking part of your mind) is not in sync with the deeper recesses of the unconscious mind. Thank God I wrote this letter. My conscious mind wanted out of being a UX Designer, while my unconscious mind (and my older and wiser partner) want me to stick with it, and complete the course and go look for a high quality UX role upon finishing the UXDI. You can also engage in this exercise when your relationship with said subject is going great too, just so you know where all recesses of your mind stand. It gels together, as awareness is the first step to change and growth.
My letter to my UX Design studies with my non-dominant hand:
10 February 2020
Dear UX Studies,
You were a real pain in the bum. You were a real bitch. Why oh why did you make the last 2-3 weeks so difficult for me? I even started you early, as there were small cuts in my hours at my permanent part-time job last month. With all the demands on my life at the end of my transition period; you made things unusually difficult for me. I could not focus and concentrate on you, and despite passing my exam; why oh why UX, I really want to be friends with you. Please help me build a strong, long-term relationship with you. Whether you like it or not; I am off to General Assembly to study you intensely. Please co-operate with me.
Love Justine xx
UX Studies' love letter reply back to me:
10 February 2020
I really don't know what the fuss is all about. You are terrific. You get caught in the drama of life, and therefore the unnecessary stress you were dealing with made you unwell, and therefore you could not focus on me as well as you would like to have. Yes, the level 1 exam on me was super tough, and you passed it, and your score was 10% above the industry average.
I am proud of you. You cleaned up some old shits from the present, and for a few months you chose to only work part-time in less stressful jobs. You're doing fine with me right now. Hang in there. And you will be supported, and you will become a cool UX Designer, not long after your course finishes.
Love UX Designers xxxx
Yes, your handwriting will be different, and may be hard to read, yet stick with it. Gems will come out from engaging in this journalling hack. There may be tears and/or catharsis, or some other reaction. Even numbness.
I did this same exercise for my old sales management job, and the reply to this old job said to stick with me until tax season ends, which is kind of what happened. (Left full-time job in mid-September 2019, to then go to hospital and then immediately go on holidays, to return part-time for all of October 2019.)
Money issues? Write a love letter to money. Same with your health. If you feel that you're worthy of sales in your sales job (for example) and you're not getting them; then go ahead and write a love letter to worthiness with your non-dominant hand, and then let worthiness respond. Super powerful.
Give yourself that time, and thank you for supporting my work. x