Most days I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.
But some days, I feel like I must’ve stumbled into this career by accident and that I should just keep my head down and hope nobody notices.
In assembling a body of work and building an audience, you create in yourself a desire to please this new base. And, if you’re not careful, you can get lost in not wanting to disappoint those that are watching. You measure each and every step, so as not to trip in front of (what you perceive to be) the whole wide world. But this idea that designers are these infallible tastemakers—free from the burden of bad choice—is just plain wrong. The fact is: Your favorite designer has, at one time or another, created a real lemon. And, most likely, not too far back in time.
I get the struggle. We work in a public arena where our output is constantly measured by way of metrics a hundred times over. From the battlefields of Dribbble to the back alleyways of the Twittersphere, there’s no shortage of opinions online. Depending on how you deal with the collateral damage, these can be a tool to empower creation and creativity, or a bore a hole in the bottom of your life raft—threatening to bring you down under the weight of insecurity.
The truth is, I often question how I feel about my work. On multiple occasions, I'm second-guessing my compositions or wondering (occasionally aloud) if this is actually any good. None of us are beyond the nagging doubt of uncertainty. But this, I know for sure: I’ve made terrible work, and I’ll continue to make some pretty shoddy pieces from time to time. It could be in exploring a new style. Maybe it will be in working in a medium or discipline I’m far from comfortable in. But the fact remains that, at another point in time—maybe not far from now, I’ll be on the ledge; holding my breath and waiting to take the plunge.
Unsure of just where this leap will land me.
I can’t tell you what this looks like for everyone else. Maybe some people just “get it”. Maybe, for them, things just click and they’re able to assemble an undisputed masterpiece time and time again. Or maybe their personal taste is, honestly, just better than my own.
But I’d be lying to you if I said that every day I feel like a designer who’s doing something I’m truly proud of. Some days, everything feels off, somehow; like the pieces are there and I just can’t quite figure out how to put them together the right way.
Some days I feel like I'm a designer.
Other days, I feel like I’m still just faking it; hoping that no one notices.
But no matter how you wrestle with these internal struggles, what really matters is that you keep moving forward; that you don’t let the shadow of doubt outweigh the light of your determination. Stop worrying about whether someone thinks you’re a “fraud”. Shove aside those inner demons telling you that you’re "not good enough yet”.
Don’t let your fear cripple you to the point of inaction. You may never reach the point in your career where you figure out just what it means to be unquestionably confident in each and every design decision you make. And in some ways, that’s sort of a beautiful thing. Because the unknown spurs in us a beautiful chance to feel like we’re risking it all again.
And there’s a humility in that tension I’ve come to love.