Right, so I'm going to write about something a little weird and maybe a little personal, but I feel like most people go through it and that it makes sense to talk about it mostly. There's a bunch of people out there to speak to about professional development in the design industry, and I have done, but I'll admit that I'm still pretty lost as to what I want to do or even how successful I should be aiming to be.
I've always been fairly driven to be "successful", coming from a well-off middle-class background in England, and I'll be honest I'm no different now. In an incredibly naive way, I experience the desire in myself to be some kind of big deal designer but realize that that isn't likely. Being older and a student, the more time I spend in school, and experience the design world the more I find myself doubting the need for any kind of success as I might have defined it previously. By this I mean success as far as recognition through awards, or by other people. I find myself being drawn more to wanting to ensure that I am (and my family are) happy. Unfortunately this is a hugely vacillating feeling which goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, and I have yet to really understand what it is that I want or need.
I'm sure I'm not the only student (and definitely not the only mature student) to feel this way, but it is interesting to me, as the more designers I have encountered in the real world are working in jobs that I wouldn't want to be in. I discover many graduates in UX design (which is totally great, but it seems people are only there because of the number of jobs not the burning desire) or in those totally glamorous which are totally hidden.
Although I attend a state school, UIC, I would say that the class as a whole has been fairly successful, with students and faculty winning multiple awards. Maybe this is part of it—being in a fairly competitive environment which seems to reward certain types of achievement rather than the more artsy style of self-exploration... I'll never forget this huge stark contrast which happened this summer—speaking to two people who I hold in high regard at a conference, feeling some kind of strange fire in my belly‚ I told them I would be huge, that I would be more successful than them. Insert embarrassed emoji here. Looking back on it, it seems so dreadfully pompous and arrogant, but also so way off the mark. I want to do well and enjoy what I do everyday, but do I need to aim to make those around me covet my success? I definitely think not.