Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Enjoying a Piece of Humble Pie

Funny how epiphanies reveal themselves at perfect moments.

Especially life-related epiphanies.

Especially life-related epiphanies that have you choking on humble pie.  Well, ok, not really choking...maybe more like the "trying-real-hard-to-swallow-that-huge-lump-in-your-throat" piece of humble pie.

via be made designs

Somewhere along the line in my life, I developed a personality trait that can be a good thing, but also a really bad thing.  I strive for perfection.  And I don't mean I just try my very best at everything I do (even though I do), but I try my very best to be perfect at everything I do.  And when I'm not, I feel like a complete and total failure.


Perfection has it's place, especially in the design world.  Clients almost expect it of designers because of our expertise.  Just as we expect a product we purchase to perform perfectly as it was intended, or a service that is performed for us.  And, while we may desire perfection, I think underneath it all we understand that we are human, and humans are most definitely not perfect, therefore mistakes do happen, and it's ok.

But for me, perfection is expected of myself.  And I think the negative aspects of that go without saying.  The pressure can be unreal at times, which I only do to myself.  I've never really discussed this with anyone, which is funny that I'm now sharing it with the world, but I'm curious if other designers ever feel the same way.


I don't know how it came about.  I was certainly never pressured by anyone around me to be perfect.  It just became a standard I set for myself.  To get perfect grades in school.  To design perfect projects that would be ooo-ed and aahh-ed over.  Because the recognition and praise felt so good.

This standard I have set for myself has given me a bit of a snobbish attitude, as hugely embarrassing as that is to admit.  I find myself thinking, well, I went to design school so I know what to do.  I understand how to put things together better than you.  Ummmm....no, I don't.  I have skillz but I ain't the best.


And I get really, really defensive when someone tries to critique my work.  And critique is such a pivotal part of the design process!  In a good way!  I should be welcoming it because it will only improve what I do.  But, no, I spend hours getting things just right in each of my designs -- especially my graphic designs now -- hours getting every detail perfect, so how in the world could you possibly find fault with what I've done?

Here's where I got slapped in the face with humble pie.


My hubby and I have recently opened an Etsy shop, Made Market.  It is our creative outlet.  We both love to make things, random things really, and we wanted to share our creations with everyone, rather than let them pile up at home!  Haha, I kid, I kid... but really...

For the first time in my new freelance career, I listed a few of the invitations I have designed for kids' birthdays as printables.  Just a few to sort of "test the waters" and see how it would go.  That's another thing I've had trouble with:  putting myself out there.

But not long after I posted the listings, I got an order for one, along with a message from the buyer if the wording could be altered a bit.  Absolutely!  Not a problem!  Shakespeare I am not, so by all means, rewrite my cutesy one-liners. (:

So after spending a couple of hours making the changes the buyer requested, along with all the previous hours spent designing the invite and perfecting it originally, I emailed them the proof.  And I anxiously awaited the reply approving it with accolades!  I mean, it was awesome!

But that email didn't come.  Instead, the reply called out an error I had made with the date (omg, complete and total failure) and a request to change the layout I designed of the text they rewrote.  

After the "complete and total failure" feelings wore off a bit, I was left with a touch of aggravation.  How dare they redesign my design?  It was perfect.  I am the designer.  I know what's best.  I know what layout looks good.  That's what I went to school for.  But the customer is always right, right?  Humph!

As I sat there fuming just a bit, I suddenly heard a still, small voice inside me say, "Yes, but wouldn't you want it to be perfect for your child?  Wouldn't you do just the same to get it just right for your party?  Wouldn't you, of all people, want it to look perfect?"

Wow.  Pie served.
God: 1 (not counting all the other times He's bested me)  Jenni:  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.

Were I in the buyer's shoes, I would be doing the exact same thing.  I am purchasing an item for a very important event and I want it to be the best it can be.  I would want it to be perfect.


And if I'm being totally honest, the customer really was right.  It looked better the way they had asked.  (Second helping of pie??)

Now, I'm not saying I'll never get a little testy when someone wants to redesign my design (hey, I'm not perfect!), but I know now, before I blow a gasket, I'll remember those words.  I'll remember my place.  I'll remember that my talent is a gift from God, and he could take it from me at any moment. 

I'll remember how much joy I feel when someone receives the final product -- the final design -- how they absolutely loved it, and how it made their day just a little better.  I'll remember how I made someone happy.  I'll remember that that's why I do what I do.  Honestly.  I love making other people happy.  Their joy makes me feel joy.  And that is the best feeling ever.


ta-ta for now.

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  1. I didn't really you had a shop so I "favorited" {that's probably not a word, lol} it. It can definitely be tricky when making tweaks for someone else and being "ok" with changing my designs. I enjoyed your post, great perspective :)
    - Lora

  2. Thank you! Its a new endeavor (our shop) but hopefully a long-lasting one. I'm so glad you shared your thoughts about the post. (:


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