The Day I Overcame My Designer Insecurity

Up until just recently, I have always looked at my career with such disdain that I was horrified every time I had to “catch-up” with a friend or relative. I suppose it’s the Millennial in me that holds myself to a higher standard of accomplishment within my career, but I’ve always felt guilty or unworthy when I reveal that I am not working with some trendy tech start-up or any of the big names in my industry. Shrugging and sheepishly replying “Oh I just work for some company and design stuff”, isn’t doing me any favors either.

Why do I downplay myself? If I glorify my accomplishments, what if I meet someone who exposes me for the sham that I am?

My fiance who specializes in recruiting, god bless her heart, had once taken to my resume to update it. Again and again, I shot down her suggestions of making my resume more attractive. I used lame-ass excuses like I wasn’t an expert at Photoshop because comping up something like the example in Adobe’s “Hovering Art Director” from scratch would take me longer than hour.

That kind of thinking can probably stem from always wanting to be the best and knowing that everything can be improved down to the tiniest intricacies. This is usually directly related to never feeling like your portfolio is done and is always a work in progress, which plagues many designers/creatives to this day.

It wasn’t until I wrote about myself in the context of helping my company in an RFP that I realized how crazy and insecure I was. I wrote something like this:

Marvin is a classically trained Art Director that started his career at [a company that is a Global Leader in Marketing Research], working with brands such as Bed, Bath, & Body Works, Subway, P&G, Merrill Lynch, Starbucks, and Intercontinental Hotels Group. Having an itch for new technologies, he moved to SoCal to work for a boutique Digital Agency that specializes in the private sector of the Healthcare industry. After 6 years of experience within the design industry, he found an opportunity at [current company] to use his expertise and leadership to help co-create with clients to achieve their vision.

While I wasn’t some hotshot rockstar award winning designer, I realized I was doing a disservice to how I portrayed myself to my peers. Until I wrote something about myself for the benefit of someone else, I wasn’t able to be confident in what I had to offer.

It’s a bit ironic that I can market other people and companies better than I can market myself. Since walking the path of design, I have always lived with that irony. It is truly exhausting and burdening to consider yourself “not good enough”. Constantly prolonging a deliverable by polishing up details that matter to you, but don’t ever seem to be picked up by anyone else, even your peers. When you find yourself not being able to celebrate for yourself while others can is a very lonely place to be.

As I am now, I feel uplifted and really free to showcase my expertise. I’m trying to find that balance of always looking ahead of what I can improve and looking back every so often to remind myself of the journey I have taken to get to where I am today. In the past I constantly told myself that I should stay humble and hungry to learn because “there is always someone better than you”. Today, I do my best to remind myself:

There will always be someone better than you and sometimes that person is you.