by Juhi Chitra
Confessions of an Insecure Designer
or how I learned to stop worrying and love the crazy.
Some days you see just one-too-many great designers doing better work than you, achieving more than you, and you just can’t help feeling like a schmuck who’s never gonna reach her full potential.
So alongside all the posts from confident designers showing us how well they can design (which is helpful most of the time), here’s a post about this designer’s worst, honest, crazy self-doubts. Just so you know you are not alone.
In no order, my big bad fears:
1. I will never reach my full potential as a designer
Who knows, I could be as great as Jony Ive (I mean all my interfaces have round corners). But I will never get there. I’ll be stuck here being a nobody.
2. I am not learning enough new tools
The 47th new prototyping tool came out last week and every designer and their mother has already made it a part of their workflow (and written Medium posts about it — which I still haven’t read). And I haven’t even tried it out yet! I might as well still be using Corel Draw.
3. I am not challenging myself enough
This project is too easy. I have done this stuff before. People are creating world-changing VR apps and I spent the day designing a pretty profile page. Again.
4. I am way out of my depth
Actually, I may have challenged myself a little too hard. I have no idea how to solve this UX problem. I am a Good Designer™, how can I not have answers?!
5. I am not reading enough about design
Those 5 articles yesterday about how to be a better designer? I didn’t feel like reading them, and that means I am not trying hard enough to keep learning. It might even mean that I am not passionate enough about design (gasp).
6. I am not ambitious enough
People are starting design studios in their name and launching their own startups, and I am perfectly fine working 5 hours a day, 4 days a week.
7. I am an under-achiever for my age
Julie Zhou was already a Design Manager at Facebook when she was my age. (I went and looked that up one night because I had to find out.)
8. Could I have been faking it this whole time?
What if I am not actually a Good Designer™ and have just been pretending to have any idea what I am doing. Oh God, I have been fooling everyone this whole time! (If this is not just a passing thought, and you actually believe you’re faking it, do read about Imposter Syndrome.)
So how do I stay sane, you ask?
These three things give me perspective on nights when it all becomes a little too real:
1. Every single designer I know (closely enough) has such doubts too. I’ve had many conversations with designers I admire who are frustrated with their skills, their achievements, their ambitions. And if the best designers feel like schmucks at some point, it can’t be all that bad being a schmuck.
2. You know what would be worse than having all these fears? Not having them. Because that would mean you had stopped pushing yourself, stopped trying to be a better designer, stopped being passionate about design (gasp).
3. Remembering what actually matters. That you’re doing work you are proud of, you’re getting better every day, and that you’re happy.
The rest is trivial.
I wrote this with the hope that admitting to our doubts will help us realise we all have them and help us move past them. Writing this list down certainly helped me. So if you have such fears too, let me and others know.