Whatever it is you think you know at this point in your life, prepare to be challenged, undermined, beaten down, bored, unfulfilled, marginally erroneous, and just flat out wrong. This indisputable fact of life isn't merely one facet of the human experience, there will be moments—maybe even seasons—when it seems more the fact of your own life; a constant battering of circumstance, chance and poor decision making. You may have moments where, in a seeming ocean of defeat that feels almost certain to weigh you down like lead in your veins, turning back seems like the only option.
I can't tell you to choose otherwise with the assurance of success. I can't promise you a lofty castle in the sky or your name up in lights, largely because so many of us have chased the same fleeting fever dream brought on by what the film and television industry tells us success should feel like and maybe even a misreading of The Great Gatsby.
You're certain to come face to face with what measure of success you'll choose to hold to your own life. Whether it's working for that one big company you've put on a pedestal all these years, hitting that number of followers on your social media network of choice, or getting that email response back from your hero you've admired from afar for so long.
But what happens when you get there? What happens if you peek behind the curtain, claim the prize, and nothing feels any different?
Or maybe it's better to frame it like this: "What happens when".
Maybe you'll do what you set out to do so long ago. Maybe you won't. I can't personally speak to the goals in which you've set for yourself, all I can do is offer my own story and my own experience grappling with the ideas of success—be it personal or professional. I still don't have it all figured out and I'm surely not the guy who can tell you how to achieve your dreams.
All I can offer is the possibility that maybe those dreams aren't all that there is. In fact, maybe those dreams aren't what is really going to make you come alive. It doesn't mean that you're way off or misaligned in totality, but it could mean that you need to reevaluate just what it is that you want (or at the very least, what you think you want).
Getting the opportunity to work for incredible companies won't stop being great—don't ever take that for granted. Being trusted with something is such an incredible honor and privilege that shouldn't stop amazing you. But bear in mind the perspective on what really matters to you. At the end of the day, when the computer is off, and you're left to your own thoughts, what in this whole human experience makes you tick? Asking yourself from time to time is a cathartic and necessary exercise because, in truth, you may be surprised by the answers. What if it's not quite what you thought it would be? Or maybe you've done what you had originally set out to do and nothing feels any different because none of it is really enough.
You can always seek out opportunities to get more money, more work, more praise, more social media attention, but is any of it really, intentionally adding to the value you crave? The value that we, as humans, are innately, evolutionarily predisposed towards.
Talk with somebody about it. Someone who can hold you accountable to what it is you're looking for and someone that you can be honest enough to talk to about your actual goals. These goals probably won't have anything to do with design outright. They'll more than likely be something much more personal than that. Having open, honest conversations with people who will call you out on your shit and reel you back when you go too far out of orbit is a sobering, but essential piece of this collective experience.
Don't be too arrogant to think you need that.
Find that tether.
Live in the calm assurance that you don't have it all figured out. That you—yes, even you—need a reality check from time to time to find out what's truly important. Because the results may surprise you.