Why you need to stop comparing your design journey to others
Before we jump into this, I want to say that t he following is probably the realest post I've written thus far, so buckle up.
Something that needs to be talked about more in the design community, especially with student and junior designers, is following your own design journey and doing what you need to do to take care of your mental health during the process.
If you are following even a small number of designers on any social platform, there's a good chance you consistently see people glorifying the hustle culture. To be honest, there's a chance I have been one of those people. We share all of the work we've done on the side to attempt to get noticed by employers. We share the hours we've put in and the end results. What we don't share? The lack of sleep and self-care we've experienced for months at a time. Our community sees what we want them to see, which is the end result. What's not shared are the constant rejections we receive from employers, the imposter syndrome we feel when new designers are asking for advice even though we are still in the job hunt process ourselves, and the bags under our eyes from the lack of sleep due to the constant grind.
Here's an exclusive look into my design journey. There are highs. There are lows. There are times of doubt and times of pure excitement. What's most important though, is that it's my own unique journey.
What we all need to realize is that everyone's design journey is going to look so different. There shouldn't be pressure for all new designers trying to come up in the industry to have to be a part of the hustle culture. That's not for everyone. Some people, myself included, enjoy staying busy and more notably, have the time and privilege to work on multiple unpaid projects. This isn't the case for all new designers, and they shouldn't be docked points because of this.
Another thing I have noticed with new designers is how hesitant we are to share any job we have that isn't design-related. I get it though. We are under this weird pressure where every career accomplishment we have should be in the direction of a UX, UI, or product-related design role. I recently took on a job in the service industry to make enough of a living to get me by during my UX come up. I didn't share this on my LinkedIn because I was afraid people would think I was giving up on my design journey.
The point of this post is, don't base your journey on anyone else's, especially if they are an "influencer" in the design community. The hustle culture isn't for everyone, and we shouldn't put pressure on any level of designer to grind for 60 hours a week just to get their foot in the door. Do the work that makes you happy and take care of your mental health. We all have so much empathy towards others because that's what design is all about. Put some of that emotional intelligence towards yourself and understand what you need to do to make your design journey enjoyable.