Saturday, 23 September 2017

what's my brand again?




We live in a world where brands and labels are strangely important. Products and companies need to stand out in the giant flow of information we are bombarded with everyday. But the same goes, in a way, for people. We are in contact with so many people everyday, both "live" and online: we follow them on social media and meet them at the coffee machine at work, it feels like it's even more important these days to know who you are and what you stand for, so that people will remember you. Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I'm right. But maybe this comes from my experience from this past year when one of the labels I used to have on myself has become more vague. It the simple question of: "what do you do for a living?"

To be honest? Nothing.

Which is completely normal where I live now. Most partners here are supported by their spouse, be it the husband or (in fewer of the cases) the wife. I'm here in Brunei on a dependent visa, and I'm not allowed to have an income of my own, unless I manage to get a work permit - which is hard unless you already have a job lined up for you. So if I can't really define myself by what I work with - as is quite common these days - at least I should be able to say something about what I do, you know, on a normal day. And here it becomes complex for other reasons, because as I see it, I can choose between a few different labels.

Am I a housewife? Well, I am a wife (this still feels weird to say, haha!). I stay at home most of the day. I spend some of my time doing laundry and working in the garden - but no more than I did when I had a full time employment. To be honest I think Andreas still cooks more than me. I don't have any kids to look after. Nah, that label doesn't really fit.

So, am I a student? This feels more correct. Although this semester I only study half time, and the little I've seen of the courses it wont even take up fifty percent of a normal work week. So I am a part time student. Sort of. But in a way I feel that label suits better someone who is on the way of becoming something rather than someone that already has a degree and a career and is basically just studying for fun, as I do. Pretty much.

Am I unemployed? Yes for sure I am. No-one is employing me and as of yet I don't have my own business, or make any money to provide for myself. So yes. But it is also completely voluntary and not in any way a problem, and the label unemployed has definitely a negative connotation, which I can't identify with at all right now. Huh.

A normal week for me consists of a quite even mix of studies, working on my own creative projects and work that I do on a volunteer basis. This work is either creating the monthly newsletter I'm editor for - actually a proper part-time position albeit non paid, or providing consultant services as a client-architect liaison and gathering user input for an ongoing rejuvenation project here. I also do some work helping out friends and family with architectural drawings and creating logos and visual profiles - although so far I've done this without payment. All of these things are more or less connected with stuff I used to get paid for, as an architect and designer. So, after some consideration I think I have reached a conclusion about my label. I'm a freelancer. So yes, I don't get paid - yet - but maybe that is something I can solve further down the line. But I do spend quite a large part of my time on relevant projects within the fields of architecture and graphic design. I feel pretty content with this label. At least for now.

As a side note: this morning I dreamed that I went to a job interview at an architects firm in Sweden. And I was completely relaxed and confident. Even though I - as I was sitting down in the interview room - realized that I had forgotten to bring my portfolio. I don't believe in interpreting dreams but I've decided this means that I'm cool with whatever will happen, even if I don't have any proper projects to show off right now.

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