IRL Epiphany

Happy Happy to those who celebrate today. No gifts from the three kings in my shoes this morning for me, unfortunately. This year, I think they showed up digitally:

I unexpectedly received an invitation from the Funsize crew late last year to appear on their podcast. Of all topics, to talk about that one post where I went all meta about design and Star Trek.

Check it out if you’d like. Sadly, they are not fellow Trekkies, which is totally understandable. At the very least, you might learn how I feel about Star Wars these days.

As for having any big epiphanies from doing a 100-day project, I can confidently say that I have none. The way I designed and scoped mine was such that I was doing little retrospectives along the way. The main intent was to get back into blogging and that’s why the posts ended up being the way they are. I didn’t set out to write about design, or the web, or identity. I definitely did not expect people to read it. But it’s safe to say I got my groove back and for that reason I am satisfied.

A corollary of that intent was to figure out if I was as comfortable today as I used to be with the level of personal information I put out there on the web, even if the content belongs to me. The answer is no, I am not. For example, I’m still not comfortable publishing the full details behind why I chose to completely stop blogging twelve years ago, but this project helped me move past the incident (because it’s now full of irony).

Being on one of my favorite podcasts was awesome, but my first reaction to listening to it was, “Oh no, people will find out how inarticulate I am in person.” My public speaking and interviewing skills are not what they used to be since I started working remotely. It makes total sense: as an INFJ whose English is her second language, it was something that I had to develop and consistently work on throughout my 20s. Like any other muscle, if it’s not worked on and kept strong, it atrophies and starts messing up adjacent stuff.

On the flipside, since people at work don’t hear my voice at all on most days, I could also reframe this as an impostor syndrome non-issue. “100 days of blogging has made me a better communicator.”

So if I had to pick one epiphany for today, this would be it. I’d love to spend this year working on getting my other groove back and showing off my new writing guns 💪. We designers (or ex-childhood-musicians and ex-childhood-ballet dancers, in my case–my gosh 😆) are always going to be perfectionists, right?

In the meantime, if you do stop by the podcast, you can hear my California Mexican accent and stammer through the roof.

Chasing the Accident

Today I was fortunate enough to stop by Funsize, a local design agency in Austin, and record an episode of their Hustle Podcast with their Head of Design, Anthony Armendariz. It was a solid, authentic conversation, in which we talked about one of my posts on here, but as good conversation goes, it ended up being about much more than that. I’m glad that these things exist. They keep the community going.

There was a point in our conversation where I talked about the idea that many of us today seem to want to grasp that piece of work that will define our careers, and let us leave our mark. We use examples that made design history but don’t fully reflect on how accidental they were. The result is that we go about our lives and careers, forgetting what’s in front of us, waiting for an accident to happen.

I used to hate on designers with side projects. They usually felt like a way for people to land a bigger role somewhere else. Too busy chasing their own happy accident, while we were stuck in the trenches with their work.

Recently, though, I’ve had a change of heart. I’ve gotten to know people whose side projects are their true vocations. They pursue theirs fully aware that it won’t give them much leverage in their career.

I’ve also since realized, like many, that the design industry is going through a major period of finding itself. So much of this job isn’t about making, and it can take a while, especially when one is starting out, or sold on a grand vision, to re-calibrate expectations.

Not that I think that a job should be the source of a person’s fulfillment, but there’s a big space between a person who just wants to do something a little different to someone who feels stagnant and needs an external force to keep their creativity alive.

Now whenever I see someone sharing their zines, posters, or melted Barbie head photography on Twitter, I make sure to check it out and share it with people I know.