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5 real frustrations of being a designer

Here are some daily struggles in the life of a designer which hopefully won’t stop you from becoming one.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

This article is based on my own real world experiences.

So, without wasting any time on an intro, let’s get directly into the meat of the article.

The following are the top 5 real struggles in the life of a designer which you might not listen too much about if you are just starting out as a designer:

Impostor syndrome

This is a big one.

I am sure if you are like me then whenever you browse dribbble/Behance you get a sense that everyone is a great designer except you. You marvel at the creations which seem out of this world and curse yourself when you are going to reach that level.

Then you start comparing your own dribbble shots with others. You see that your dribbble shots have 1 or 2 views and no likes whereas the shots that you see over there have 40–50k views and over 1k likes.

You begin to wonder if you are even a designer at this point. Everyone seems to be an expert besides you.

Moreover you see those shows on youtube channels where you see designers dressed up in cool attires with a fancy Apple laptop and you think why don’t you look like that? Those designers look like they could act in a movie whereas you look upon your wardrobe and you think that wouldn’t even be cast as an extra.

You curse yourself again and promise yourself to buy some new clothes for yourself. But let’s be honest that never happens

Your messy workstation adds to this feeling. Looking at those pristine, clean and cool looking shots of other people’s workstations on insta makes you want to question your existence.

You start to think, are you even a designer?

This makes you feel more like an imposter. And trust me this feeling never subsides even after so many years of working in the field.

You just learn to live with it.

Difficult to explain what you do

Now, I don’t know about what it’s like in other countries but here in India people really don’t have any idea what a designer is or does.

Hell, I can’t even explain to my own parents what I do.

And all the time I hear my mom tell me to get a real job. She is a kind human being so she doesn’t force her opinion on me but she always keeps on sending job application forms for government jobs.

In India people still hold a government job on a pedestal.

Moreover if someone does understand what you do then they claim that their 5 year old nephew could do that too. Nothing feels more heart wrenching than the complete destruction of your self esteem by these people by saying these words.

The most overly simplistic explanation that you would be able to give is that you create websites. You know your job is more than that but try explaining that one. I am sure you will soon realise it’s better sometimes not to explain everything.

You can become a caveman

You remember Golem, right?

Well that might be an extreme example but you can completely forget about going out sometimes.

You can become so engrossed in your projects, side-projects, learning new things, tutorials, social media posts, etc. that you can spend the entire day indoors.

You know this is bad for your mental, physical and social health in the long term but you ignore that fact.

Sometimes I start in the morning and the entire day passes out with me sitting in that chair and working on my projects. I can go days without any actual human contact.

This behavior if followed for long leads to many problems like back pain etc. Staring into the screen for long times without any break causes damage to the eyes as well.

So I have to sometimes remind myself by setting an alarm that I need to get up and walk or do some light exercise and also wash my eyes to keep them from getting dry.

Health is our most important asset and we need to work towards that and keep our physical fitness top-notch.

As designers we tend to forget this.

Negative feedback actually hurts

As a designer, whenever you design something you put your heart and soul into it.

And when someone says they don’t like it, it feels like a gut punch.

I don’t know about other designers but the negative feedback or criticism of your creation never feels awesome. No matter how you spin it.

Rejection feels like rejection. And nobody likes it.

Yes, I know it shouldn’t be like this and we should be ready to receive criticism because that’s how we learn.

But c’mon I am being honest here. Nobody likes criticism even if it’s positive.

Moreover in the design field you will seldom meet people who actually know how to give feedback.

Subjective/personal opinions are often touted by some people/clients as feedback which helps nobody. Vague feedback like “I don’t like it”, “It’s not that good”, “Make that color blue/red/white etc.” doesn’t help designers move forward and makes them feel inferior as their design decisions are not respected.

Critiquing a design is an art and to communicate that effectively without sounding like a jerk takes a lot of practice & experience.

Everyone around you acts like they are designers

Design is more than just aesthetics.

Design is problem solving.

Design is creating a solution that meets the requirements of the project as well as which looks beautiful.

And that is a difficult job. It is difficult to create an end product which meets the expectations of all the stakeholders involved in the project.

In fact, first you have to define those expectations and convert them into a real vision. And as a professional well that is your job as well. So there are a lot of puzzle pieces involved in design from the start to the finish which a layman never sees. He simply sees the end product and thinks that anybody can do it.

No, not everyone is a designer.

This is your job and as a professional you have spent your days and night learning, practicing this skill.

You know that you are more than just a pixel pusher but you will meet a lot of people who think they know better than you and will push their opinions on you.

This happens a lot at the starting of your career but is not limited to it.

For e.g. Clients who think they know what they want but in reality they don’t because they just feel like that.

These were some of the struggles/problems faced by designers on a daily basis but does that mean that you should never pursue this field?

No.

Every field in life has its own trials and tribulations but that doesnt mean that we run away from it.

In fact, we need to step up and work our way through it. Because problems are never going to go away no matter the field. And if we run we will always keep on running from problems.

So we need to keep our heads down and keep working. Follow best practices, devise our own best practices and deal with the problems.

Because dealing with these problems will make you a better person and a better designer in the long term.

Thanks for reading this article! Please Leave a 👏 like/comment below if you liked the article and let me know in the comments what are your own struggles/frustrations of being a designer.

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