Time Travel Wishlist

Growing up, I was made to believe design was meant for people who could draw straight lines without rulers. As someone whose lines resembled worms, being a designer wasn’t an option.

Out in the real world, the definition of design was expanding. Designers were tackling issues that went beyond eyesores. Making sense was a greater priority than making something look good.

It took me a few years to realize I could be a designer despite my lack of drawing skills. That’s how I’ve found myself studying interaction design at SVA. I’m a week away from finishing my first year.

Which means I need to start thinking about what I’m doing for my thesis. To help us figure this out, our writing teacher, Nicole, asked us to write letters to our past selves. She wanted us to address the versions of us that clicked ‘Submit’ on our grad school applications. What follows is my attempt:

Hey,

You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, and that’s awesome. You’re going to throw away every preconceived notion about everything. The process won’t be easy –– there will be questions coming at you from every direction, and your first impulse will be to duck and run –– but I promise you’ll come away with a better understanding of who you are, where you’re from and what you’re meant to do.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll leave you with a short list of things you should keep in mind as you navigate the next few months.

Don’t Hoard Your Work

It’s tempting to hold off on putting something out until (you think) it’s perfect. You believe you can avoid failure by keeping your work under wraps till it’s completely polished. Truth is, you will never recognize the potency of your ideas until you bounce them off other people. By hoarding your work, you will miss out on the perspectives of people who have different ways of viewing the world.

Draw Even If You Can’t

You will be surrounded by people whose drawing skills are far superior to your own. Don’t let it get to you. Be comfortable with being scrappy. Don’t worry about technical precision. Focus on getting the point across. You can make up for your lack of skills with courage. It takes practice, and you’ll get it wrong more often than you’ll get it right. That doesn’t mean you should stop.

Listening > Speaking

You have a lot to say, but so does everyone else. You will realize that conversations are more interesting when you’re not the one talking. You will be exposed to many opinions, perspectives and thoughts that are directly in conflict with the way you think. If you take the time to understand how other people think, you’ll spend less time arguing with them. It’ll be easier to convince them to do their best work.

Be Weird

From working on an awesome music festival to indulging your interests in digital editorial design –– everything good that’s happened in the last five years is because of your refusal to stray from your interests. Time and again, you’ll be tempted to alter your personality to accomodate lucrative opportunities. Don’t do it. Be guided by what you love. As long as you’re honest, you’ll end up in the right place.

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