Something sort of weird is happening as I get older. I’m becoming less confident as a designer. Shouldn’t the opposite be happening? I know that some of my friends are totally rolling their eyes at me. I know because I’ve seen you do it, but I’m totally dead serious when I say that it’s become an issue to the point that it sometimes feels crippling. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many younger, more talented and more creative designers out there, or if it’s because I always felt like I reluctantly fell into this career and never had my heart in it, or if it’s because I feel a bit out of touch with what’s going on in the design world, a world that I don’t really feel a part of in the first place. It takes effort and time to be on top of things, to be out there, to stay relevant and attend events and conferences. I just don’t have the time – or to be bluntly honest – the interest. This isn’t about talent. I know I have a body of work and experience of over 14 years in the biz to stand behind, but I think I’ve always dealt with low self esteem issues throughout my life in varying degrees. It just surprises me that it’s still something that I have to fight against, that I still have to work really hard on building self confidence. All of this still, at age 40. I thought this stuff was supposed to get easier.
I constantly think that I want out of this career. It’s true that I do eventually, but if I’m really being honest with myself then I know that a large part of it is because I’m afraid of failing and not being able to deliver on a project. But I’m learning. I actually failed at something quite recently. Normally it would have haunted me and I would have obsessed over it, but I just let it go and didn’t make a monumental deal out of it with a big fat FAIL sign over my head. The world didn’t shake and I was able to brush away any fleeting thoughts that I totally suck as a designer and then I quickly moved on. No time to dwell.
When I look at the way Claudine draws, I see a lot of myself in her. It’s scary. Already at age 4, she has this need to draw everything exactly as she sees it in her head, and when she can’t she gets extremely frustrated, sometimes to the point of meltdowns. As some of you may have seen, she has this incredible ability to draw for her age, really detailed stuff, but when she makes “mistakes”, she’ll wail that it isn’t perfect over and over again. I tell her that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that her drawings are wonderful and that she can try again if something isn’t working for her, but it’s often no consolation. She’ll cry because she can’t get the left leg of the girl she’s drawing to realistically look like it’s pushing the scooter, but bloody hell, she’s 4! Of course she’s having a hard time with that! I don’t know where this idea of “perfect” comes from. It’s not anything that we teach the kids. Because I know how much pressure I put on myself as a kid, I’m pretty careful about not expressing any expectations, being overly critical or pressuring the girls into anything. I worry about Claudine’s high self expectations at such an early age and her fear of making mistakes on paper with pencil.
I laugh at the irony of the fact that I’m dealing with the same issues.