Know what you don't know
Women & Design // Behind the Scenes
'Comfort zones' are no longer comfortable in an increasingly unpredictable world moving ever so quickly. People are constantly evolving, changing, growing — how do you?
When 2020 rolled into play, I really thought "This, this was going to be my year", I'm pretty sure a lot of you felt the same. It was a new year, a new decade even! Time to make things right. But, clearly, 2020 had other plans. The world as we knew it had changed erratically in the past few months and, change, despite being inevitable is always dauntingly uncomfortable at first.
In a few ways, this 'new normal' has shaken up our beliefs of what we can, and can't do. It's shown us the extent of change we can bring across when we stand in solidarity. Like many others, I've taken this quarantine as a chance to slow down, adjust and re-focus. I was on a mission to find the right balance between work, and life. There was so much that I wanted to do, to learn, to achieve — it was overwhelming, yet this seemed like the perfect time for it! (Don't worry I did get in my fair share of rest, binging on Netflix and doing absolutely nothing as well.)
So, how can you learn what you don't know? (...and not get overwhelmed by it!)
As creatives, I don't think we can ever stop learning or growing. We're constantly trying to improve ourselves, to become better than our last creative output // creation. However, that's mostly what happens while we're within our comfort zones, not beyond them. When we're beyond our comfort zones, we're just like everyone else. And that's okay. While I was in school, we were constantly being pushed out of our comfort zones, and as soon as they realized one of us was starting to get comfortable and cozy staying where they were, we were all shaken, mixed, and disrupted. I hated it back then, but now I boldly see it as one of my strengths.
Teaching yourself new things can be quite uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be. I'm not going to bore you by saying "It takes hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears", but really, there's no secret formula to it or an easy way out. Just take it one step at a time, and go for it. The hardest part that you will ever have to overcome, is to start. That's it! After that, it's all smooth sailing.
It takes courage to want to go beyond your comfort zone, and you've already taken the first step. Hallelujah! The biggest thing that tends to hold people back when they're trying to learn something new — apart from denial — is the fear of the unknown. Not knowing if they'll be able to do it, the time (oh god) it will take, and all the other work that needs their attention.
We've got jobs, families, social responsibilities, health, a life that begs for our constant attention, but that's no excuse to stop.
Once you start teaching yourself new things, the fear reduces. You start realizing that you've done it before, it was all you, and you can do it again. And again. And again. As many times as you may need to.
Take things one step at a time, don't overwhelm yourself
Do you keep finding yourself procrastinating immensely while trying to teach yourself something new, something that you have absolutely no clue about? I used to. A lot. It can seem to be a lot but don't overwhelm yourself by looking at the peak of the mountain and the long journey ahead — take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you're going to be on the mountaintop looking back at where you once started (and it won't seem all that far!). Understand your destination/goal, and tell yourself what the first step would be. It could be a marathon you want to run by the end of the year — start by going on your first walk/run (woohoo!) — or, you may want to learn a new software, you could try downloading it and giving it a quick test run! Once you start, you realize it's not as daunting as it once sounded.
Knowing yourself is vital, in any scenario. I'd suggest before anything, spend a good amount of time (days, not minutes) observing yourself, internalizing, and truly understanding yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses, your habits, and catch yourself before you begin to fall into any one of them. Stay present. Understand your skillset and aggregate the skills you've already mastered and apply them. Say you're learning 3D modeling, use the skills you know from 2D — light and shadow play, surfaces and textures, or even from photography — hone them in to help aid you while challenging yourself into a new dimension.
Ask all the questions
Don't be afraid to get help. There is absolutely no such thing as a "stupid" question. I'll let you in on a secret, "stupid" is a myth. Now is the time for you to gather all your resources, and I mean all. Use your friends, family (maybe even your grandparents, uncles, and aunts), college networks, and don't be afraid to get down and dirty with deep google searches. Most importantly, there are thousands, probably millions of people making YouTube videos on the great World Wide Web just for you! Go watch, learn, observe, and most importantly practice! Ask your uncle that's a photographer if the composition you made on blender is as realistic as it could be, what could you do better? Could you maybe use some of his images and try to re-create them (with the appropriate credits of course). I'm sure you get the idea.
While you were busy reading the above and maybe even applying them in real life — what you didn't realize was that you're already doing it! You're learning, growing, and challenging yourself to become a better you. Staying consistent is probably the hardest part, it may seem like it's not working for a while, but if you stick with it the results will speak for themselves. Discipline comes from within, and if you ever need a little push, just remember what Jim Rohn once said — "We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
The best way to learn is by doing, you'll make mistakes along the way, but don't give up. Make sure to have an organized database of all your resources, ask questions, channel criticism into creativity and stay consistent!
Design, in the 'real' world is vastly different to what we were taught in design school. There are so many aspects to it that need to be taken into consideration, understood and experienced. You can learn them all, you have probably unconsciously learnt a few in the past, and now, now you know how to know what you don't know... without getting overwhelmed.
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch! With 🧡 Team WID.