It’s hard to believe that we’re at this point already.
Not long ago I was hunched over my tiny Macbook Air in my mum’s 1970s kitchen that, like every Christmas, smelt like Filipino spring rolls and salted pistachios while haphazardly decorated with faded plastic Christmas trinkets. I was hurriedly designing and building this little blog you’re currently reading while Tim helped from the other end of a fast paced Facebook Messenger thread and my mum, peering over my shoulder curiously and repeatedly asked what I was doing.
In that moment, I kind of knew that a weekly writing commitment that focused on vulnerabilities, success, fears and failures would be a big part of my year to come but I didn’t know that it would be so transformative. And of course, that is exactly what is was. It seems like a no-brainer now. Of course a blog completely and utterly based on reflection was going to uncover some unwanted/unneeded/unknown truths that would be near impossible and unfortunate to cover up again.
During this year I uncovered personal truths about self-confidence, doubt and fear; truths about feeling uneasy with the idea of time and misplaced purpose; and, truths about how I deal with and experience conventionally positive emotions of joy, pride and excitement. Out of this came my biggest and most concerning truth: For the most part, I had begun to feel comfortable with the things that were making me uncomfortable. I’m not talking about the good, “step out of your comfort zone” kind of uncomfortable; I’m talking about the type of uncomfortable that inhibits your creative mind and has the potential to bring everything crumbling down.
These truths were uncovered by the simple practice and consistent practice of reflection. A practice that involves a constant one-way motion of looking behind you to look straight into the eyes of the past. In the case of Two In Fifty two, this meant looking back one week at a time (and often several weeks at a time when we were running behind schedule) for 52 straight weeks. Needless to say, reflection has become a big part of my life, in a similar way people work ritualistic pratices such as meditation into their lives.
So what do I do with these truths now that I have uncovered them through the weekly act of reflection? And how do I find that balance?
Well, the thing about constantly looking backwards is that you leave very little time to look forward. And so, as I start my new year in almost the same way I started the last (a quiet New Years, a productive working start and with a big overseas adventure planned), I see an opportunity to spend this year defiantly, and predominately looking forwards in order to find ways to banish these truths, embace these truths or nurture these truths.
Here is to a confident year.
Here is to a productive year.
Here is to a fearless year.
Here is to a happy year.
Here is to a balanced year.
Here is to a year of both reflection and foresight.
Thank you Tim for letting me ride this little wave with you, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else. For me, I think we’ve found that no matter where you are positioned in the life cycle of a designer, we’re all just humans — as experienced and inexperienced as one another. Being a designer — no matter how many years you have identified as one — has less to do with actually being a designer and more to do with just being a person. We all struggle with the same things and likewise, we all celebrate the same things. In the end, none of us are alone and it would pay to remember this, narrow the gap and remember to support each other more.
Thank you to everyone who has read, supported, shared, and cheered for the weekly donuts. We hope they have been tasty for the most part.
Adios Two In Fifty Two. You have been good to us.
I have a few final takeaways that I wanted to mention here. One, reflect and reflect often but don't do so without the intention to use that reflection as a passage into the future. Two, if you have an idea for a side project, especially one that is time-sensitive and involves a certain amount of accountability — do it. The benefits are unreal. Three, make stuff with someone you respect and admire; it makes all the difference. Four, never stop writing. Five, roll with the punches and ride that rollercoaster that is life and work but don't ever let it get you down. Six, Senior designers, look after those who are up and coming - support them, mentor them and learn from them.