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  • Writer's pictureTanisha Sansoya

Learning design during a global pandemic.

Women & Design // Episode 10

We all know that the act of creation is rife with uncertainty. There are doubts at every turn. You could be a designer or an artist, a student or someone with years of experience, I don't think this feeling ever really goes away.

Like many students, I returned home for a break, after a long week of juries, due to the covid-19 outbreak. At first, I remember being relieved, thinking I finally had some time for myself, and being super excited. I don't think any of us understood the gravity of the situation and what was to come.

I consider myself extremely lucky because neither I nor my family got diagnosed with covid. But over time, the constant (passive) worry of the disease started to show. The school was back on again and we were all getting used to this new feeling of being online all the time. I remember my first term online; staring at screens for 8-hour classes and then completing assignments for the next four. Fatigue was a constant state of being, which is strange because we weren't physically moving around, rushing off to the printers or the teachers or for some grub or catching the next local before rush hour (ah...Mumbai). no, this new situation...this was just mentally exhausting. the world turned into a different place and suddenly we found ourselves having to completely redesign our lives.

Okay so here's how it usually went for me; my alarm buzzed at 7:45 am and I dragged myself out of bed to grab my laptop. on a good day, I'd be at my work table, later it'd usually be the bed. I'd log into my class early and go get 'ready' which meant brush my teeth and... that's it? I barely have my thoughts collected before this wave of information came at me. Maybe this is exaggerated but I got better at handling this. We'd be lunching at 1 and were at it again at 1:30 pm, too sleepy to really care at this point. It would finally be over at around 5 and I would shut my laptop because I couldn't look at a screen anymore. I soon lost the emotional connection with my work. I thought maybe it's best to stay disconnected because being so emotionally invested in something would lead to more exhaustion. Making things is hard. Suddenly the pandemic was showing me that everyone was doing what I was doing but they were doing it better. it was so easy to find myself getting propelled in so many different directions, you know, with social media and whatnot.

I'm intrinsically wired to never be satisfied with my work but when I reflect back to the past two years I find myself encouraged and full of hope for the future. I guess that just comes with being a novice in any creative industry. My work made me feel purposeful. Working on projects with so much freedom gave me a feeling of joy and deep satisfaction. And I think a lot of creative people feel the same way.

I place the opinions of my peers and teachers in incredibly high regard and when they weren't around me I always felt that I couldn't explain myself in the best way possible to them. I would always get so frustrated at myself for not being able to be efficient enough with everything. I was reading survival guides to internships, online classes, and zoom fatigues. I'm an introverted person but I also think it's important to build relationships with the people I study or work with. I think riffing, improvising, or simply fooling around with ideas makes working on projects so much better. In a conventional setting, this was much easier and I guess I really miss that.

We all know that the act of creation is rife with uncertainty. There are doubts at every turn. You could be a designer or an artist, a student or someone with years of experience, I don't think this feeling ever really goes away. Hayao Miyazaki once said, "I can feel it every day, the limits of my abilities". So do I. A lot of this fear came from uncertainty and a lack of control.

But during this time, I also learned to cope and slow down. Analyze every decision I make in my process. I guess this was my silver lining.

The pandemic transformed my college experience in an evolutionary way. In the three semesters I spent online, I found myself relying on online resources more than ever. I connected with so many people riding the same wave of uncertainty.

These were wild times. So many of us were transitioning from one thing to another, but what's important is to pay attention to what's close to our hearts. I'm also learning how to be creatively rested. I baked, went on walks, gardened, read books I'd put on hold. I don't consider myself a workaholic but I do burn out very easily and these activities have been a way to cope (anything that involved not looking at a laptop screen).

Over time, my peers and I learned new ways to make our college experience better. We made sure we held a zoom meeting once every week just to catch up on all our projects and get to know each other's thoughts. We had to try and create an environment for ourselves where we felt comfortable and free to bounce ideas, that wild as they come.

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.


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