I feel trapped and miserable.
I don’t know if what I do anymore has value.
Why do I feel like this? There were four points in my career that made me doubt myself to the point of frustration and tears.
I think at some point I had mentioned this in a previous post, but I was literally told “…I do not see your value…” in a slow tempo. As if the aged speaker wanted the words to sink in. He questioned why I wanted to remain in graphic design. “You should go into business development. In 10 years, graphic design will be done by robots.” He truly meant what he said and believes it.
What did I do in retaliation? I held in the growing wave of anger and hurt. What would mother think if I upturned my chair (the wooden, clunky table would’ve been too heavy) and stormed out of my first real, full-time corporate job only after two years of working there??? She would’ve been angry and chewed me out telling me that she’s been in a job she’s hated for years and dealt with it because she had no other choice. My brain was programmed to think a job isn’t something you like; you just work the damn job to survive. So, I held the emotions in during the meeting and cried them out in muffled, angry sniffles at my desk.
The next turning point was becoming the subordinate of a strong-minded and strong-willed woman, my supervisor. She is brilliant in all things communications, managing, and grammar, but with all the knowledge and skills comes a short-temper for stupid mistakes. It’s a temper I’m used to since my mom flips her lid for the same reason. My supervisor had to deal with yeeaaarrrsss of people devaluing her; all that coupled with stress made her prone to angry outbursts whenever it all became too much.
I took those outbursts in full force and when she wasn’t too pissed, she’d make it known that it wasn’t directed at me. Problem was, I’m human, and hearing angry outbursts in my general direction beat me down whether I tried to ignore it or not. I also took her dissatisfied looks of whatever I presented her. My ideas seemed to worsen with each design she didn’t seem to like.
Never once have I heard that she liked something I completely designed myself without her guidance. She had taught me many things that were helpful with graphic design like looking at the bigger picture and how to consider the audience. But over the past couple years, my growth has stunted and I’m not making anything worthwhile to be looked at. It just feels like she is accepting whatever is remotely close to her original vision because she has no other choice (I’m the only graphic designer there now.)
I’m not making designs people really want and I don’t know why…
A competition only further supported this realization. A year and a half ago, I was working in a logo contest for a brewery club. I tried very hard to make sure what I made was different from the other entries and tried to figure out what the client truly wanted. But each design I made was too far off the mark. The winning designer managed to balance everything I had thought of in an appealing and intricate design. At the end, the owner of the contest wrote to me the following, “Hi designer. Thanks for your feedback. I think you have some good ideas but I get the impression that you are still learning. Keep on trying!”
It felt bittersweet. What I saw was, “You had good ideas but I didn’t like any of them! Nice try, kid! *receives a back pat*”
I’ve worked in graphic design for nearly 8 years but in my mind…what I make looks like I only had a few years experience.
The last thing is the real kicker. It left me wondering why is it that people don’t see all the cogs in the wheel? They only see the big ones?
You’re probably thinking, “what the heck is she talking about?”
Last fall, my husband had a brief acquaintance with a 21 year old guy. He seemed to be a fella who had no tact and has been battling with proving himself to his parents. While he was speaking of the struggles of his career and his parent’s acceptance, I had mentioned my own troubled beginnings of having my mother accept my own career choice. Well, the lil’ twit decided to say, “well yea, but graphic design isn’t a real job…”
I defended my career the best I could but it didn’t change his view. At the end I just told him to think before he speaks because he sounded ignorant and inconsiderate.
I’ve lost my fervor to work. I feel like my designs are shit. I feel like half the world doesn’t give a shit about design despite it being in every man-made thing that exists. I’m a ball of emotions right now which is making it difficult for me to think straight and figure out how to get out of this rut and grow in my career.