You know the feeling when you know you enjoy something but don’t know when it qualifies as ‘your thing’? No? Maybe it’s just me. I have a hard time calling something ‘my thing’, especially when it’s as generic as writing.
I think I have to clarify right from the beginning, ‘my thing’ may not be what I’m best at, but what I prefer to do the most. I’ve found some things that I most definitely prefer over others, but I always hold back from letting them be a part of my identity.
I think I like to write.
But doesn’t everyone? Isn’t ‘I like to write’ the same as saying ‘I like music’ in an interview. I guess that is the root of my fear–being so clichéd it’s not believable anymore. The imposter syndrome runs so high, I convince myself I’m just another person who writes now and then. But that doesn’t explain why I traded college assignments to write my peers’ colloquiums in exchange for making my 3D paper prototypes (I’m a designer). It also doesn’t explain why most of my self-projects end up with a written paper/article which no one asked for.
I guess I can like writing, even if many people like writing. Even if I’m not the best at it.
Okay, I like to write. It’s my thing.
That is why I published 4 conference papers and a thesis in a year. That is why I have 8 published stories on Medium and 8 semi-written drafts.
On another note, I am a social designer. There is no doubt, I like to work on well-intentioned projects. I’m all for solving ‘wicked problems’ first. (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Simply because I have surrounded myself with social designers, does not mean designers all prefer projects with a prerequisite of social impact. Social impact can mean different things to people and it does not make social innovation a cliché.
But why do I need to be in that box? Why do I need to define my niche and limit my opportunities? Because this is what I care for the most. That will come through whether or not I show it. In the way I present my work and in my design methodology.
Samantha (Neufeld) Moss, among other researchers and designers I look up to advised me to play up my strengths. Say it like I mean it. She puts it better than I can.
re: I’m afraid I’ll limit my chances of finding work if I brand myself as a social designer.
So yes, I prefer to design for social good. It’s my thing.
My best work does include projects on maternal and neonatal healthcare, women’s history of HIV and sexual and reproductive health.
I am making an effort at being honest with myself, even if that makes my box smaller, makes me sounds like a cliché or sound pretentious.
What an unnecessary inner-conflict to have.
Oh, and I love music. And nature. Mountains > beaches.