A memory popped up on my phone this evening. A post I shared seven years ago. My first major project in my new design job. I smiled. Inside and out.
This image invokes many feelings and memories. Fond and proud-of-me moments. Like speaking up in a team meeting (which I rarely do), offering my resume for a position they were having a hard time filling. I had everything they were looking for. A leap of faith and it paid off. I was offered the job – my dream job, a graphic designer in the Federal government.
I hadn’t been working in the design field for a number of years, with the exception for a few freelance and volunteer gigs here and there, and I was scared I wouldn’t have what it takes but I decided to just go for it and try.
I had a few small jobs to do such as newsletters, making changes to previous files, nothing difficult. Then came the big project. My team mate showed me a picture in a magazine of what her dream was and asked if it was possible to create something similar. My initial thought was no way. It would take hours, many, many hours. Days. Weeks even. Doubt and fear creeped in. Could I do something like this? Where would I start?
Then I realized this was a perfect time to just say yes and figure it out as I go.
Which is what I did.
I started with the basics: pencil, ruler, eraser, and paper which was scary because I don’t fancy myself a drawer. But here I was, in my dream job, where no one knew what my abilities and limitations were. It felt like I was given a blank canvas and permission to reinvent myself. I could be anything I wanted to be and I really wanted to be someone who had a job where sketching was part of it.
I sketched a city block with a variety of buildings, sidewalks, and overhead walkways connecting some buildings. It was the most fun I ever had in a job and I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do this!
Then came the fear. Now I had to show this drawing – which wasn’t really that good, IMO – to my team mate for feedback. Their sheer delight and excitement was not expected but very much appreciated!
Next step was recreating it in Illustrator. I learned so much from the process. What I didn’t know, I researched. Some things I learned the hard way – by accident. In the end, we had a beautiful product that we were excited to share. And when our partners started sharing it on social media…oh my heart.
Along this journey, there were many times I felt like a fraud because I didn’t know what I was doing; I was winging it, learning on the fly. I know now that that doesn’t make you a fraud. It makes you brave. Taking a step into the unknown, trusting yourself, your abilities and just going for it, that’s how to live.
Looking back at the graphic, seven years later, sure I see areas that could be improved upon. But I also see my first 3D illustration, my first time using Illustrator like this, so many first. I remember the excitement, joy and feeling of accomplishment, especially when I didn’t think I could do it but went for it anyway and look what I created.