For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a designer.
I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but it was nonetheless securely buried in the young and wishful dreams of my childhood.
Without going into too much boring personal stuff, this dream pervaded every career move up until the last year of my life. In fact, my career started specifically as a graphic designer, and avoided any sort of code.
But, as so much of our industry expects design and development to go hand-in-hand among applicants, I started learning code to augment my existing design expertise.
I developed a knack for code, and was able to build most of my designs independently from other people’s help. In some cases, people would call this a certain level of “success”. And for some people, this is a valid pursuit.
However, for me, I started to realize that I wasn’t exceptional at either design or development. Instead, I was mediocre at both.
Accepting Your Talents is a Difficult, Yet Necessary, Journey
Up until this moment of self-discovery, I had always saw myself as a designer. I assumed that this was my area of expertise; where my potential originated.
But over time, the truth began to reveal itself. The “designer” label wasn’t so much something that I was naturally good at…it was simply something I wanted to be.
Don’t get me wrong — I can design well enough to do most things on my own. Even well enough to design for other people.
But what I discovered was simply that code came much quicker to me. Code was less aggravating, and produced much less feelings of falling short and insignificance.
Code being a more natural skill wasn’t obvious, because I was so focused on being something else.
Beware of the Need for Approval
In the end, I finally understood the reason of why I wanted so badly to be a designer. I simply wanted the widest route to praise.
It’s hard to admit, but the reality is clear: design is something that the most uneducated person to the most famous designer can recognize. It’s instantly clear to the subconscious mind (to varying abilities of articulation, of course) as to what looks good and what looks “off”.
I’m not belittling designers. Their work is just as hard, if not more so, than that of developers. I’m just trying to convey my logic in pursuing it as “my thing”.
Code, in contrast to design, is rarely seen. And when it is seen, it’s beauty can only be appreciated by that of one who understands it — in this case, another developer.
As such, praise for code has less exposure and is more difficult to get noticed.
Because of that, I was only able to embrace my natural talents as a developer once I had first battled that internal beast of needing recognition.
I couldn’t embrace the skill that would result in less praise if praise was my most coveted pursuit.
Embrace Your Talents
Since that point, I’ve completely embraced code (and more specifically, front-end development), as my specialty of choice. I’ll still use design quite frequently — I design themes, after all — but it has ceased to be the driving force in where I put my time and effort.
It’s amazing, when you accept what you’re good at, how much freedom can come from it. Hopefully, this little story will help you do the same, whether it’s design, development, or something else entirely.