The first five years of having kids has rocked me — in many incredible, profound ways, but it has also knocked my confidence as a designer. My kids have revealed to me this concept of finite time. And while I’m proud that I have deliberately chosen to be one of two people who always wipe their butts over that glamorous other life of boardroom meetings, drinks with colleagues, or even 5pm water-cooler conversations, my confidence about who I am as a designer and where I want to go has plummeted. My network is quiet. My social validation slim.
Maybe it’s a sign of growth, something festering beneath the madness.
I know in my heart of hearts I’m not a worse designer; I haven’t been able to push myself as much as I did before kids, but I’m older and wiser and more confident in some ways (way more likely to wear pyjamas to the grocery store, for instance). Truly it has been a sane and reasonable thing for me to stop working like a mad-ass-designer for awhile — I’ve needed every ounce of that extra time and energy to help my tiny humans thrive. But that judging voice inside my head is loud and mean and I am finally ready to do the work to get her to shut up. It’s taken a while to get here.
So, as you do when faced with existential crisis, I made a spreadsheet! Yay spreadsheets! I came up with 30 small things to do that could probably somehow grow my confidence as a designer. Not a “better” designer mind you, but a more confident one.
Here are the themes:
Week 1: My presence / Clear the slate
Week 2: My community / Build support
Week 3: My attitude / Rethink the thoughts
Week 4: My skills / Do the work
I’m committing to this for all of December and I hope to share as much progress as I can here on Medium. What a terrible time to do it of course but I need the pressure to prioritize important things, and tech projects do typically quiet down this month.
As the days go by I know I’ll humbly ask for a few things, too (things like feedback on how you’ve seen me show up over the years, new tech recommendations, support as I lay my withered parental design soul out in front of you, etc.).
Think you can help me?
And do you also need these any of these things? — because I will help you too. I mean, I’m specifically addressing bad patterns that have plagued me, but I’m happy to share the spreadsheet if you want to have a go alongside me and compare notes.
Anyway, here’s Day 1.
Day 1: Take the pretest
Today’s task for Dec 1 is to measure my design confidence. I’ve had to figure out how to do that and so have very unscientifically written a little bitty self-reporting survey. If I take this now and then again at the end of the month I’ll have some sort of idea whether or not spreadsheets still deserve my undying love that I so readily hand over whenever I’m feeling stuck.
You can take the pretest too (if you take it you’ll be doing me a huge favor by establishing a baseline of normalcy!). You’ll be able to see the results as well.
I have no idea what will happen with this endeavour but I do know that facing difficult change is always better with a friend or two. Come be dorky and unconfident with me. And plan to blossom into a magnificent phoenix rising from the detritus of diapers and crusty eyelids.
Or at least just give me some advice, I am in need.
All two of you are welcome!
p.s. I realize the irony of my self-deprecating language. Let’s let it slide.