A Designer's Confession: Facing Fear

I have a confession... one that would make my design professors cringe. You ready for this? No, really, are you ready? Here goes! I... love... girly design! OK, so that might not come as a shock to you, but it goes against everything I was taught in design school. I can picture the critique session now:

I'm sitting on that pin-striped musty couch in the senior design room, sinking into the worn cushions, surrounded by my classmates. My teachers are standing over me looking at one another, shaking their heads. Ready for an intervention, they pull out my business cards — silence sweeps the room. I've created... something... feminine!

So maybe that's a little dramatic, but I was once criticized in class for my name being "too sorority" for a designer. That's right, too sorority. What does that even mean? I guess you could trust a Slade or Rhapsody to design something artsy... but Lauren Ashley — how could she create something cool? And that's when I changed my name to Zora. Ok, not really, but I did change my website to Rendition Graphics rather than Lauren Ashley Design.

The reality is, deep down, I am more of a Lauren Ashley than a Rendition Graphics, but I conformed to what was expected of a designer at the University of Florida. Concept was more important than form, so something with deeper meaning that looked horrific could land a better grade than a beautiful design with no apparent theme.

My true confession is that I struggle with fear — fear of being judged by other, more "artsy" designers. The very thing that I'm proud to present to friends and family, I am embarrassed to show other creatives. What if they don't like my style? What if my work isn't as good as theirs? What if I don't fit in with them? Instead of turning to my fellow designers for support and community, I hide from them.

Fear must be embraced in order for us to press forward. That's right, embrace it. Take hold of your situation and set your mind to overcome — or at least to try. Ignore fear, and it will creep into your life, binding you in a hole of doubt, keeping you from stretching yourself or accomplishing your dreams. Embrace fear, and even if you don't succeed, at least you've learned that fear and failure can't hold you back from trying again... and again... and again, until one day you succeed.

I may never be famous for my design work, live in a high-rise in the heart of the Big Apple, or be featured in How Design magazine... those may be my old classmates' goals, but they're not mine. My desire is to help brides feel special on their big day with elegant wedding stationery, and to promote the presence of small businesses through beautiful branding — and there's nothing shameful in that.

God created each of us with different talents and passions, which we need to embrace. So I encourage all of you to conquer your self-doubt and start pursuing your dreams without shame. 

What fears do you need to embrace so you can press on towards your goals?