As I become a designer, I realize I always have been. I habitually designed my handwriting to be more or less legible. I designed how I arrange my clothes to interact with them every morning. I designed a daily work routine to be most efficient. Now that I’m almost done at school, I wouldn’t say I’ve been going to school to become a designer; rather, I’ve been going to school to realize I am a designer.
Along with this recognition that I am a designer, comes the recognition that everything has been designed. Whether an item or a space or anything has been knowingly designed or not, decisions had to be made in order for it to make its way to reality. Take for instance the piece of crap, generic, wooden pencil I used to develop handwriting in elementary school. It probably didn’t have a five-star designer agonizing over every detail, but someone had to decide to act on the idea of creating it. They simply thought it would be a good idea to have a cheap option to write with, sure, but it’s not likely they cared about how the wood would react upon sharpening or how effective the eraser was. It’s similar to the sticky situation Cinderalla experienced in the musical Into the Woods “Wait, though, thinking it through, things don’t have to collide, I know what my decision is, which is not to decide.” Not deciding is a decision (albeit a poor one).
Poor decisions lead to poor design and that’s not why I’m recognizing myself as a designer. I want to design well because I have been well-designed. If the Master Creator cares enough to agonize over every detail, why shouldn’t I at least care a little about what I’m creating? I want everything I do to be well-done out of respect to Him.
In order to do this, in order to design well, I need to be vulnerable and put myself out there. It may be scary, difficult, or even seemingly impossible, but it’s a part of Design. Sharing with others (my work, my opinions, myself) it’s all a part of Design. Not everyone – maybe not anyone – is going to like what they see, but that’s okay becasue maybe I can learn from their feedback. Vulnerable Design can be infinitely more effective and impacting than reserved Design. By sharing a part of me that experienced something, I have the ability to touch someone’s life in ways I couldn’t have imagined because maybe they’ve gone through the same situation. It could change their life forever! This is why vulnerability is so important to Design.
In Daring Greatly, Brenée Brown’s book about vulnerability, she says “There will be failures and mistakes and criticism… [But] we can’t equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging, and joy. If we do, we’ll never show up and try again.” She’s referring to vulnerability in life in general, but this is so very true in Design as well. If I receive critique on my work and let it impact me as an individual instead of seeing it as a growth moment, it impacts my design, I won’t be able to get back on the horse.
Fear of the horse won’t get me anywhere. I’ll be stuck in one spot, held captive by fear, looking at a horse. I won’t be able to impact others. I won’t be able to repay Him who designed me well with well-designed Design. I’d be a poor designer that didn’t make any decisions. It’s so easy to fall into this trap that I must stay vigilant in how I accept feedback to my vulnerable Design.