January 10, 2013

Be Fearless By Failing


We constantly make mistakes – it is part of what makes us human, and what makes life somewhat more interesting like a roller coaster ride as opposed to a gentle ferris wheel. Despite our best efforts when the odds are against us; when failure is inevitable; do we cower away and avoid? Or do we persist despite the odds.
I remember a TEDx Talk from my school a few years back. It was an inspiring story and when I was watching it live, I was actually repeating my third year design studio and this woman’s talk about persistence was heartfelt throughout the auditorium. It echoed in me to try, to push, because you will never know your until you try.



Now just recently, I came across with a similar scenario (just minus the success of running and establishing a student group). I wanted to attempt to do my very first design competition all by myself. Unlike Andrea, , the final weeks leading to the deadline was marked by the holidays coming, drafting, and work applications that were due in the New Year. I’m not using these circumstances as excuses – rather this made me realize that I need to be working on the design early on in the process than just researching and sketching ideas up. It made me realize flaws in my design process, and what I need to do the next time around. Life is always going to keep running and going, and it`s up to you to find ways to make the most of it and keep it in balance.

I had two choices, realizing that I did not have enough time to finish – I could just give up and take it easy and avoid the work or to keep going and do my best and fight because you never know. I opted the latter, because I had to learn the hard cold truth that I needed to manage my time better, improve my skill set, and I needed to gauge myself to really find out what am I capable of in my design and technical skills. The end result and submission was not as successful as I had hoped, however it made me realize the things I need to do better in the future to succeed. The funny thing is, after this design competition, I am more eager to fight and do a damn good job at the next competition I find interesting, I do not want to cower away and just stop doing design competitions (it’s vital to your career as a student or professional)

There are many things to learn from negative experiences like making mistakes and failing, and much more than just being treated to a silver spoon of success.  The biggest challenge is to go beyond making a resolution or goal, but to do better, and be highly cognizant of what went wrong, be seriously working towards changing any bad habits the next time you run into a similar situation.  

Failure and the Fear of Failing is one of these things that I know a lot of students and young designers might be faced with. The fear of failure can be a road block for anyone with perfectionism, anxiety, and self doubt – it can even cause us to avoid an opportunity for growth, for development, and even for success. Design students and designers are faced with frustration of not having something to be their best or what they are ambitiously imagining for a design project, and it can cause us to keep searching and pushing even to the last minute for finding that great idea. I even find that it hinders all us in the design process, even pushing things to the last minute.

To be a designer, you have to be comfortable with the uncertainty and take risks. You have to be willing to take chances and not get phased out during moments of strife. We have all been there, and it’s a matter of figuring out how to find the right messages and positive self-talk that can easily resonate in you and frame your mindset, and realizing that life is a constant work-in-progress – it’s about iterating and improving from one scenario to another. So you have to be compassionate to yourself, take risks, and be fearless.

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