Time for a little personal gut check and confession…..
I had no intention of working for myself. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I had every intent on working under a more established designer and learning the craft from the inside out with the goal of one day ….. one very distant and far day…..opening my own shop. Well that didn’t turn out the way I thought. Most of the designers I approached to work under sorta balked at the idea of having a slightly older (ahem) guy with no previous design experience aside from a keen eye and several design classes work for them. Matter of fact, I was told by one designer that “her office doesn’t have time to indulge in your hobby….” Ouch.
So like many before me who had the door slammed in their face, I forged my own path. It’s been scary, frustrating and more often than not, I find myself in tears (proverbially and literally) after learning from my mistakes. But I am learning and surviving and some would even say thriving in a business that can be difficult to enter and even more difficult to maintain a foothold in. Yet, I still had this nagging doubt — this need for validation from someone more established than I to say my work was up to par. This perceived lack kept me from pursuing some opportunities because I didn’t think my work was good enough to enter the “arena” on a grander scale.
I don’t know why but my internal monologue shifted. The voices in my head (you know you have them too — don’t judge) finally said “Enough. You have to try. You have to believe. Otherwise, you live in someone else’s shadow.” So I took the leap of faith. I followed up on two leads and submitted two projects for consideration to be published. I pitched my little heart out. To quote a friend “I put my heart, foot and back into it….” So essentially I am risking three vital portions of my body for the chance. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want it. I do. More than new shoes and a back massage — I want this. However, I am at peace if neither opportunity comes through because in the end, I now realize that validation is nice but what I need is feedback. That type of honest communication that makes you grow, raises your game and leaves you, well in this case, a better designer.
So this week, here is to finding feedback that moves and improves, rather than validation that merely affirms……