How to Craft an Anti-Mimetic Career
This is a guest post on by Simone Stolzoff, a former design lead at the global innovation firm IDEO whom I had the pleasure to speak with and get to know in 2021. I’m grateful to present this guest post from him today — an Anti-Mimetic original tied to thick desires, which coincides with the launch of his debut book, The Good Enough Job.
It was Halloween in San Francisco. Little witches and lions clasped their parents’ hands on the sidewalk. I paced like a caged animal. I had two enticing job offers and couldn’t decide which to choose. A recruiter for one of the jobs was calling in two hours.
I’d waffled for weeks. I solicited the advice of everyone I loved. And my yoga teacher. And my Uber driver. I sought out a career coach. With the tacit endorsement of Michael Pollan, I even tried to see if psychedelics could help make up my mind. Zero progress.
Each time I came to a pseudo-decision, I thought of all the reasons the other job was better. Maybe I should get a job as a devil’s advocate?
I ran through the options again. The first offer was to be a staff writer for a trendy online magazine. I had spent my twenties playing Goldilocks with careers — a few years in advertising, a few years in tech — all the while dreaming of writing full-time. I had done some freelance journalism on nights and weekends, but every time I said “I am a writer,” it felt like a white lie. This was the first job I’d ever been offered with the title to back it up.
The second offer was to be a designer at a prestigious design agency. I had wanted to work there ever since I heard the founder speak in grad school. “Work for this man!” I’d jotted in the notebook I kept tucked in my back pocket. A few years later, I had the opportunity to do so. It paid 50 percent more than the journalism job.
On some level, I knew how ridiculous my conundrum was: oh, the agony of deciding between two attractive job offers. I judged myself for caring, for ascribing so much significance to the decision. If a friend of mine were complaining about this, I’d tell them to get over themselves. “It doesn’t matter,” I’d say. “You’ll be fine either way.”