Below is an excerpt from my statement of purpose for graduate school. This statement allowed me to document my transformation from a person who allowed fear and discomfort to keep me from my dreams, to a person who chases the uncomfortable in search of growth and happiness.
On June 15, 2013, I woke up at 3:54 am with a feverish need to clear my mind. It was in that moment that my fears and dreams collided. I sat up and began to type a note in my phone, “I am a people pleaser! I am extremely focused on how I can exceed the expectations of others. This often has a negative connotation, but I don’t see it that way. After all, everyone deserves to have their socks knocked off. I consider ‘people pleasing’ to be my take on user experience but for me it goes beyond interfaces and technology. I want to create products, content, designs, and strategies that allow the people who are most important to me, users, family, and friends, to enjoy the ultimate user experience, life!” These words have guided every decision I have made since that night.
From middle school to undergrad, my career aspirations changed from becoming a lawyer, to a psychiatrist, to a consultant; mostly as a result of my desire to represent the underserved, understand how people think, and solve problems. Each time I changed my professional goals, I further suppressed my desire to pursue a career in the creative industry, because I feared the reactions I would get after telling people I wanted to pursue design. As a result of my fear, I pursued a B.B.A. in Business Marketing; a degree that was as close as I could get to being creative without wandering into the land of ‘starving artists’ as I commonly heard people refer to the design world. As a teenager I did not know the meaning or value of my ability to find beauty and interest in various subjects, but in retrospect I realize that there is a way for me to fulfill all of these aspirations through design.
After interning in consulting and in branding/marketing, I chose the former as a result of being afraid. I couldn’t bear to explain to people why I had given up an opportunity to have a secure salary for at least the first two years of my “adulthood” nor did I know how I’d deal with myself if I passed up job security and ended up unhappy. Less than a year into my role as Federal Analyst at Deloitte Consulting, I knew I had made the wrong decision and wondered how long I would allow myself to continue on this fear-driven trajectory. There was no defining moment that made me realize this, I was just finally ready to be honest with myself about my passions and about the fear I had allowed to take over me. I wrestled with myself thinking about how I should have majored in design or communications in undergrad, but that didn’t change the fact that I needed a path into the design world. Furthermore, my internal battle negated the value of the analytical skills, software development methodologies, ux/ui skills, and client relationship management experiences I had accumulated while serving various clients. On that June 15th morning, I embraced the fact that design, creativity, and strategy are at the core of who I am and that I won’t be happy until I incorporate these things into my work. The three facets together allow me to tackle any problem and that is what I am passionate about, tackling problems and delivering meaningful solutions. My experiences at Deloitte and my degree in business prepared me for the professional aspect of any career, but I am now seeking experiences that will further my creative and making abilities.
For me, design is about creating experiences and products that make people elicit emotion, and being able to change the lens through which I see to create for people I do not know. Similarly, technology is not about the end product, but about ways in which we can use the end product to realize things we once imagined. I imagine a time when kids’ video games allow them to see themselves in potential careers. While I am an avid Playstation and Grand Theft Auto fan, I would have loved to be able to simulate a character who was a designer, or a businesswoman, or a police officer, and really come to know all the careers that exist beyond doctors and lawyers. Even more, I imagine a platform where my two little sisters can have an idea for a product, business, or service and crowdsource resources to become teenage entrepreneurs. I admire those little girls because their abilities to pursue their interests and express their feelings are things that I am just learning and when I grow up, I want to be just like them. I find the most inspiration in watching children interact with one another and with adults. They are candid, playful, genuine, and observant; all characteristics that need to be brought back to the forefront of human experience, all characteristics that I will bring to my design work.