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17 April, 2019

Growing Through Grit

On allowing moments of frustration and lack of experience to propel you forward.

Growing Through Grit

I’ve always been a curious person, and the day I discovered design was the day I wanted to learn everything that there was to learn about it. I approached my journey with a head full of dreams and a heart full of passion.

Having not yet been faced by any great difficulties, it was easy to envision myself in a couple of years having a career that I was proud of and feeling successful and accomplished. We all wish to fulfill the goals we set for ourselves, and so I was ready to plough through any challenges that came my way.

But instead, I experienced a fear of failure and self-doubt.

The more I wanted something, the more pressure I tied to its success. Finding myself surrounded by ultra-talented individuals, I would get frustrated when I couldn’t do the same things as efficiently as they could, or as beautifully. I felt inexperienced, and wanted to be at the same level they were at, within the shortest amount of time possible.

However the more time passes, the more I’m learning that in order to reach the standard I want to be at, I have to stop focusing on how far I am away from reaching my goal, and instead enjoy the process of learning and getting there.

I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I’m going to use a cake for a simple analogy:

The design journey should be similar to the process of baking. Before I start baking what I usually do is look through images on Pinterest, and scroll past photos of beautifully designed cakes, admiring their impeccable attention to detail, skill, love — and passion. They all take a lot of work to put together, however, by dedicating time and attention, they can be made. However, on the first attempt, the cake gets burnt. The second time, the glaze is too thick. The third time, I forget an ingredient. But by trying and trying, one day I’ll get to look at the cake in front of me and feel a sense of satisfaction and pride.

A recipe for a cake is its scientific formula in a way: 4 eggs, 2.5 cups of sugar, bake for 1 hour at 175°c and eat. But sometimes it’s impossible to apply a scientific process for what we do — and this is why we need to fall in love with the process and learn to embrace it, challenge it and (finally) perfect it. No matter the situation, or the amount of pressure tied to a goal, the process will always be the same. Mistakes will always be a reality. What will separate us from those that succeed in reaching goals, and those that don’t, is the acceptance of the reality of mistakes — and the willingness to embrace the process fully.

We must understand that the mistakes that we make along the way are not directly related to us as people, nor do they mean that we’re incapable of accomplishing what we set out to do. Rather, they are simply part of a normal process that hones our skills. So bake the best cake you can using all the ingredients — and your success will just be the icing on top.