Before I was a designer, I was an engineering student. Before I was a mentor, I was a mentee (still am).
Growing up, we all have vivid imaginations. We stay up late waiting for the tooth fairy, dream of going to space, and have ideas that were defied physics. And as we grow older, we start editing our imagination.
This year, I spoke to designers globally on ADPList and noticed one similarity — everyone was told what they can/should do as designers. It was as though we all stopped imagining things as we step into the industry.
What was promised a creative industry, really just seemed like following a standard process.
For me, it happened gradually. When I first stepped into the world of design, I hadn’t known better. I stopped imagining things as if there was a “standard process.” It’s like there was an internal editor in my head fact-checking the possibilities out of my world.
Everyone either attended boot camps or art schools. And I took free online courses.
I met designers who’d whip out better prototypes, nicer UIs, and communicate with more design jargon.
I felt like an imposter. It was everything I had wanted to be and thought “should be.” It was a struggle finding what fits.
But when I started my career, I met a mentor that taught me something I will never forget. She said,
“Own your voice and imagination. Trust your process.”
Now, imagine your design career like a giant rock used to carve out new sculptures (ideas). The more we craft it, the nicer our sculptures will be. But if you start editing your voice and imagination, you start with a smaller rock; limiting beliefs. I think this is why many designers I meet are new to design (including me) — if they’ve known better, they may never have started.
Today, I’ve learned that — it is okay to be taught. Humoured. And shown the way.
But never judge your present self to your future self. Your growth doesn’t make you an imposter.
You are already where you need to be going.
In the words of Steve Jobs —
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. You have to trust the dots will somehow connect to your future.
This year taught me much more about the strangers turned friends worldwide than myself. We are more similar than we are different. But the greatest lesson that I can share is —
Trust your process; don’t edit your voice or imagination.
Never stop imagining what’s possible for humanity. Happy New Year!