Julie Ng

Julie Ng

Blessed and cursed as a web designer

It’s my last day in Rome, my first real vacation since snowboarding last winter. Although Rome has a lot to offer, I was homesick for Munich nearly every day. I realized how spoiled I am by its cleanliness, German punctuality in public transport and I miss great bread. But these adjustments are always part of travel and visiting a foreign country with their own culture. What really prevented me from enjoying this holiday is my profession: being a web designer and wannabe entrepreneur.

Blessed to love what I do

I truly love my profession. We make beautiful things that users can consume and enjoy, as well as increase their productivity through software. We also help make micro-loans really possible through sites like kiva - changing people’s lives. How many other professions can claim to do all these things?

I’ve have several friends visit from the U.S. the last few weeks and I felt that Americans look forward to vacation not just because they have far less paid holiday. They also seek to escape the monotony of their jobs: excel spreadsheets, writing reports, colleagues and customers. Granted, when I felt that same when I was salaried. But I was also perfectly happy to spend that time still doing what I do - making websites, not for an employer, but for myself. These past few days I have been working on a site for a client. But I look forward to solving the next piece of the design and development puzzle to make this complex site a reality.

So yes, I am working on my holiday instead of sightseeing. And I feel blessed for it.

Cursed 

I felt idle as a tourist. I saw many great things, but I also missed many things. Although I were physically there staring at a ruin or sculture, I was often somewhere else in my mind, thinking about some design or database schema.

A long-time friend warned me about being addicted to my work. True, we need a healthy work life balance. I miss my running, which has been so inconsistent these last few weeks. And while I am traveling with a friend from the U.S. I miss my Munich friends (and beer). I think I have a healthy balance that lets me turn off my web designer brain for a few hours or a weekend. But right now, as I try to become an entrepreneur I cannot turn it off for a holiday.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

And neither is a business. I fly back in a few hours. First I’ll go running. And then I’ll sit down with my building blocks, not concrete and marble but pixels and code.