Women & Design // Guest writer
Creative Anxiety and Social Media
Skipping, jumping, and dancing through the world of expectations, a place where we are forced to act like an imposter because the spaces where we exist, are dull and people like beautiful bright colours, don't they?
Guest Writer - Chetna Kaur // May, 2021
“Design is all about making things look beautiful”
This one statement made me feel offended. I was looking at the person in complete confusion, and before I could say something, he pulled out his Instagram and showed me all the beautiful renders, attractive visuals, and mind-blowing colors. The play of lights and shadows, the commendable contrast which will light up your eyes, and of course, the cherry on top, a significant number of likes!
That night I surfed Instagram for hours, as soon as I put #design, all I could see was a great combination of vanity, it was indeed a candy for my eyes.
But is that what design is about?
As a student in a design school, I have always been told that design is about the story, the process and most importantly it's about humans! As young designers, we look up to influential seniors around us, and the most convenient way to do so is using instant connecting platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
But what are we really looking up to?
Is it the skill of producing stary visuals or kind of design which impacts society for good, because if we are looking for great designs, then, I am wondering if social scaffolds are the correct way to do so?
We are often told that social media has a negative impact on human psychology, we are exploited as images of perfect bodies, happy lives, and big homes but, when the reality is something else!
It's the same with design.
Design is about breaking the box but what we are really trying to do is, encapsulate design in a box and wrap it with glittery expectations of pleasing human eyes, forgetting that the reality of design is hidden in the ugly truths of being. I remember reading books about powerful design stories, articulating about inspirations, struggles, research, constant prototyping, finding the relevant problems, empathizing with mankind, and creating a solution that has touched lives.
Unfortunately, today's design has also become another trigger for mental issues like creative anxiety, leading to the seriousness of mental stress and suffering imposter syndrome in youngsters. When I started writing this piece, I had no idea where to start, what were the right words, what will make this piece more relatable to people like me. When asked about the article, I would tell people the exact definition of what creative anxiety is and what it means to me, and how I want to bridge it to imposter syndrome. It's a constant loop we designers are stuck in. Always in the running with vanity and visuals that we see on social media and off-the-mark definition of design.
But then why can't I put it in the right words? That exact moment was what CREATIVE ANXIETY feels like! Faced by millions of designers, creative anxiety happens when you feel imprisoned to your own thoughts and fog of discomfort appear in front of you, you feel lost. Whereas Imposter syndrome is when you create a bubble of self-doubt around you, you think that everything good coming your way is not because of you but it's because you are faking it! You are faking your confidence, you are faking the skills, which is not true, but just because you are consistently putting yourself down, you think you don’t deserve any of it.
So you try harder and you fake it every single day and the emotional distress caused by it is insane!
With everything on our screens in those small boxes trying to define design with a memorandum of vanity, the essence of design is lost. Young designers like me, when we see sleek images on Instagram and other social media platforms, constantly try to reach that level, incubating trepidation. We wonder about our existence, our originality which has disappeared. And then you try to play possum because you so desperately want to be the best or at least match that level.
We are just going round in circles, not realizing that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Skipping, jumping, and dancing through the world of expectations, a place where we are forced to act like imposters because the spaces where we exist are dull and people like beautiful bright colors, don't they?
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With 🧡 Team WID.
Up next // Mehek Malhotra
Mehek Malhotra (she/her) is a Designer and Visual Artist currently based in Mumbai. Her work is inspired by her everyday interactions, fleeting thoughts, sights from everyday life in Mumbai, all crafted into thought-provoking pieces.