One of my favorite questions to answer whenever someone would ask me: “How did you get started on design?”. The reason why I love telling that story is because of how non-linear it is, and just like most of the good things I’ve ever gotten, it took quite a while to mature. Half a decade, to be very exact.
I’ve been working since 2010, having started out doing illustration, print & editorial design work that weren’t really going anywhere despite its fair share of fun and frankly, educational aspects of it that comes with working with your first few startup-like companies right after college. For sure, I’ve had a few years of stagnancy which I deep dived further on this other post. I had my “Aha!” moment not long after and started pivoting my career direction towards UX & writing but not without the chips on my shoulder as my constant companies. Looking back, it wasn’t at all that terrifying. My only regret, if I had any at all, is that I wished what I learned in close to a decade took me less than that for I honestly do think it was a lot of time to waste.
As a background, I was a late bloomer in almost every aspect of my life: had zero acceptable social skills until I was 17, didn’t took my career in design seriously until I was 25, never been outside of my country of origin nor had a boyfriend until I was 26. This list could go on. At this point, like I’ve said before, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what my life can become should I choose to become more proactive towards it. Just like any late bloomer, I now want to make up for the lost time and do just about anything I’ve ever wanted to do but never had the guts nor the motivation to do so.
It’s quite easy to blame external factors such as upbringing, the lack of exposure to new ideas, the past familial difficulties but the truth is everything behind me really doesn’t matter as much as everything that is front of me. I’m in a privileged position simply because of the choices I have access to should I choose to pursue things. The fact that I’m in the United States alone is more than enough to get started and at least attempt to pursue bigger things. To do otherwise and walk away, or turn to more lower risk pursuits feels almost like a sin at this point.
Whenever I’d look back and think of all the decisions (good and bad) that led me to those “aha!” moments, I seek out patterns and mental models I’ve consciously (and subconsciously) used. It’s interesting how, despite its consistencies, it’s still relative to the nature of the desired outcome. I can think as deep as I would want to but the more abstract things goes, the greater the need to branch it all out and essentially map out the factors attached to it. Assuming in this case, by “things” it could mean anything from the next milestones to future desires. If I can lay all of that out clearly, I would then only need to focus on the probabilities which could then mean basically anything and everything that is likely (or unlikely) to happen in relation to it.
What really got me curious about all this is the subject of probability: the mix of pure luck and intentional actions that makes a really powerful combination when it comes to chasing any kind of success. It’s becoming clear to me that life really is a single-player game and by every choice I make, no-one is as accountable for its outcome and consequences other than myself, that includes the luck aspect of it so therefore, everything is a choice — including not making one.
To make a real lasting change (at home, small community, society and essentially the world), it starts with myself. I can only be as useful as I allow myself to be through fruitful singular and collaborative actions. The higher the pursuit, the greater the influence, the luck & the overall mental power required to succeed at it. At this point, I think time is the only resource I would need.
As long as I have it, I can’t think of anything else to do with it other than be useful.
How i stay useful
Community work — I’ve recently joined a team inside UXPA-New York on the mentorship department where I serve as a volunteer and writer. I’ve always liked the idea of wearing different hats: event co-organizer, marketing and email writing, logistics person, door greeter, customer service, to name a few. We’ve just finished a small, intimate event with theme of tackling Imposter Syndrome and it was beyond amazing.
Mentorship work — I work with this Brooklyn-based startup where I serve as a remote mentor to aspiring UX designers and career changers all over United States, providing guidance and practical tips tailored to each individual’s case. Every session is unique and I learn as much from my talented mentees as they, hopefully, do from me.
Personal work — Aside from feeding my curiosities through a lot of reading and deep diving into interesting subjects, I work independently as a UX designer with a focus on UX writing, interaction and visual design, primarily. I’ve recently opened a codepen where I intend to do more personal creative coding exercises assuming I’d improve on it and towards the end of this year, I’d like to learn more about those two intersections.
Relationship work — Perhaps the biggest priority of all, the relationships that solely govern my life: self, others and the world I am in. Everything I’m working towards is centered on this category and I can’t think of anything that would make me compromise this, including thoughtless distractions. This is my anchor, and always will be the only thing I am incapable of sacrificing.