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So, I have to be amazing, but I’m not allowed to make mistakes

A Black woman’s outlook on success

I’m a trained and practiced designer. My infatuation with houses, colors and making something out of the most simple and mundane principles of form has guided me in my career. By principles I mean line, shape, form, color and texture. As both a graphic designer and interior designer my profession has a heavy focus on critique, perfection and deadlines. I didn’t realize that my type A personality, determination to “succeed” and unexpected free spirited mindset would send me on a wild goose hunt to find my “place” in this world. I’m 30 years old and the only “place” I find myself happy these days is my home. I love practicing my craft, but when all I receive is debilitating criticism and no room to grow, all I want to do is throw up the deuces and go find a new species to inhabit. Humans have so many “mental issues” that the majority of them are just seen as normal.

It’s hard being a Black creative trying to make a living and actually taking risks and reaching to be “amazing” at what you do, when no one is making it easy not to mention even rooting for you. It’s been almost impossible to find a full time job as an interior designer, so I’ve been making my own opportunities. I started Authentic House to pursue my “passion” or whatever that is. I think of careers like tattoos. It’s been 10 years and I still want to do it so it must be meant to be. I’ve taken calculated career risks in the past to build my skill. Sometimes, it does not go well. Which is the reason I’m writing this in the first place. I take a step to build my experience and skill, I make a (damn near inevitable) mistake and I’m reprimanded. There is no option for grace, empathy or understanding. I’m expected to just know. I’m expected to do it and do it right the first time. It’s a pattern in my life that has been a thing since I was a child. No one cares about what that type of pressure does to one's mental and emotional well being. It pisses me off. It makes me isolate myself. It leaves me so alone in fear of being disciplined when all I’ve ever needed was compassion.

I guess it's important to mention that people need to understand that mistakes and "failure" are inevitable when you're trying to grow. Doing things you've never done before is a part of growth and majority of the time practice is what makes people great at what they do. Serena has been practicing Tennis since she was a kid. You know how many shitty games she has played with her dad before she was able to win those grand slams? A LOT i'm sure. Well, I don't have any "practice games" to play in design. You learn on the job. That's how we learn most things. Just do it.

I have not and will not ever give up on the things I love to do, I'm just constantly editing my trajectory to not be at the forefront of human interaction and criticism. This isn’t me writing about how I dislike criticism by the way. This is me writing about not being allowed to make a mistake and also maintain my integrity, my self worth, my job. Severe unnecessary criticism is what I’m referring to. Growing up, many Black kids hear that they have to be “twice as good” in order to get half or just as much as a white person. Well, that shit is true, but in some cases you can actually be better, and still get rejected, demeaned and ostracized because now you’re seen as a threat. Make the smallest mistake and they’ll run with it and poof, you’re outta there. It has happened to me on several, several occasions. I’m not here trying to sound like I’m “better than” or a superior designer. I know I’m not. I’m pretty average, but part of the reason is because of the lack of opportunities to grow. I am where I am because I busted my ass to teach myself the things I know. College only presented me with the idea. The thing is, I could only bust my butt teaching myself for so long before burnout set in. I’ve been thrown under the bus, not chosen, and let go for unobvious reasons so many times I have officially put my hands up. I said fuck this hiearchical, biased system. I’ll work for myself completely. That gave me space to breathe at least. Focus on myself. Gain my own sense of self back, but it doesn’t erase humans and the need to work with them in order to survive on this earth.

So back I go in search of work sustenance to support the 2 mouths I need to feed. And the BS continues. Another thing that gets me is the need humans have to focus on the negative. There could be 5 gold shiny cars in front of someone and they would absolutely need to point out and berate the rusty old one. That’s exactly what happens with clients. It’s exhausting. Maybe I’m in the wrong field. Nope. I love this shit. Maybe I need to change my niche. Yep. That's the next step.

I’ve always considered myself a behind the scenes kind of worker. I’m perfectly capable of being an MC or host, an extrovert job, but I really do not desire that type of attention. I just like to see something done and done right. The face is never really responsible for whatever they’re verbalizing, selling, etc. My goal is to find a niche that allows me to stay behind the scenes and work my magic, but not have to deal with non-designer-human backlash and generic criticisms. I want to work within a space that allows me freedom to create and produce good shit and actually be applauded and celebrated for it for once. I want to be congratulated for my eccentricities lol. I want people to laugh with and problem solve with that are just as devoted as I am. I never wanted to be a solo designer. I wanted to be on a team. I have leadership abilities, but was ready to climb my way up to that. Instead that damn ladder keeps getting taken away. I take a step and they pull me back down. Fuck your ladder. Lol I can lead from the ground, put a jet pack and surpass you mother fuckers. OR. ORRRRRR walk off the damn stage and say fuck you to the whole ladder climbing act in general. Ladders aren’t even SAFE. I want my life to feel safe, secure and welcoming. My life doesn’t need to feel like an endless obstacle that needs to constantly be conquered.

To end this, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I don’t have to be amazing for anyone. I WANT to be amazing because I love what I have chosen to do with my life and I love my daughter and don’t want to see her starve. I WILL be amazing on my own accord and I will push until I find a space that will allow me to be amazing exactly as I am all while feeling safe, secure and comfortable. (LOL sounds like a dream doesn't it?)

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