Figuring it out. Patching it up. Making it look like I have a clue.
I feel like a con man when I tell people I'm a designer. Correction: not because I'm not a designer or not good at it — I am — but because it's not an accurate description of what I do. My coming of age to the workforce was defined by a 12 inch white MacBook and internet access. Like many, I learned a ton of digital tools and was trained by worldly people with blogs and interesting stories to tell. As a result I've become a centaur of sorts: head of a bull, arms of a designer, hands of a coder, heart of an artist and visual communicator.
Last time I started a job, no one could quite define what I do — therefore I was just a designer — but after a couple of months I was re-writing the company's story, making pitch decks for the sellers, re-designing the brand and coding the corporate website from scratch. I say this, not as a testament of exceptionalism but as a predicament I see myself and my friends in.
Our value comes through at the intersection of our digital skills. We are better communicators when we design, better designers when we code, better coders when we write. The magic happens at the margins.
Bylines, profiles, and Medium posts pressure us to be someone. We dust off the chaos and slap a label on it while, in fact, so many of us are in perpetual exploration. We live in a paradox! We're told to find a niche, specialize, focus, and commit; but deep down we're a hurricane of ideas, projects, aspirations, and a good dose of weirdness.
I'm starting to realize this is what real life looks like. Good work is messy, being good at something is about what's around it, and all we're really doing is figuring it out and patching it up as we go to make it look like we have a clue.*
* Stolen from Judd Appatow's conversation with Brené Brown that you can and should listen on Brené's podcast