Myth: Your first attempt at designing something great will determine the outcome of your life.
Truth: Let any designer tell you that their current body of work is much better than what they’ve created in their first year of design school. A lot of us can’t help but want to get it perfect the first time. Yet we hold ourselves with such high standards of excellence and perfection from the start, which is great if you’re an expert in your craft but hinders your progress if the goal is to learn what’s possible.
So no, your first piece of work will not be your best (and hopefully it won’t be your last because it certainly will improve through repetition). The good news is if you keep coming back after your 5th, 17th, 22nd, 31st, 53rd, 67th, 95th attempt and so on, then we’ll start to see creativity happen.
There wasn’t a single design critique where I didn’t want to look at the work others made because I thought it wouldn’t benefit my own. Of course watching others present and produce work helped me improve my own projects. Truly selfish, yes. This is the one secret that everybody forgets in the critique room: nobody cares about your work as much as you do. Not the other students, not the professors, and especially not the studio technicians. This means that nobody is going to critique and judge you as hard as you’ve been judging yourself.
What we really think as the audience is, “What did they do that I can take?”
Once we let go of needing praise and compliments, we can focus on being yourself and creating work that you are actually interested in.
More than just a job title, you’re human and have many capabilities. You’re allowed to be diverse and are entitled to being yourself rather than somebody you’re not. The sought-after UX Designer title is more than just a UX Designer. She might be a marathon runner, a home cook, an aunt to 2 kids, and a well-versed traveller who happens to write on Medium.
For us graduating and on the job hunt, it’s important that we don’t limit our capabilities to what potential employers want from us. On the flip side, we also don’t have to fully fulfill all requirements of what a job description says before applying.
You are you before your job title.