Yesterday I had the great fortune of being accepted into my top choice grad school. The program will not begin for another 10 months, but I could not be more excited about where I'm heading, the types of ideas I will get to explore over the next few years, and the type of career it will afford me in the future.
We rarely get giant neon signs that tell us to take a moment and take pride in our own accomplishments. It's not unusual for 20-somethings to feel chronically discontent with their situation, but I want to take this opportunity to appreciate the calm and reflect on what it took to get here.
I officially decided to apply to Industrial Design programs about 18 months ago. I almost made an earlier exit into humanities/social science programs, but turned away when I realized that fear of being unable to compete with applicants from undergrad design programs was the main factor keeping me from what I really wanted out of grad school. Most of all, I seriously doubted I would be able to pull together a solid design portfolio, when all I had was research work and a scattering of DIY projects. But from that moment on, every ounce of my free time was devoted towards building the skills necessary to not only get accepted, but do well in an ID program. I took classes in drawing and woodworking, self-taught basic Adobe CC skills, and started working on portfolio projects I could build through completion.
Putting together a visual portfolio as a non-designer was, by far, the most difficult intellectual work I've ever done. Periods of being overwhelmed with self-doubt were followed by rewarding highs of solving problems and producing something objectively good. I sought advice from anyone I could, worked entire weekends on things that were ultimately useless, and spent weeks going straight from my job to another 8-10 hours of portfolio work as deadlines came closer. My friends and family certainly felt the strain as well, as there were several months where "portfolio talk" accounted for 95% of my active mind... All the work felt worth it though, when I was able to submit a portfolio of which I was truly, deeply proud.
Submitting was such a relief because I knew I had done my best work, but the abstract nature of a creative portfolio made it difficult to gauge my chances or evaluate myself objectively. Which is why after 2 months of waiting, and compulsively checking thegradcafe.com, I am so pleased I can finally bask in the sweet, sweet glow of accomplishing something I didn't think possible, because I worked as hard as I possibly could.
There's a lot I still want to improve on before I start classes, but for the time being I want to appreciate this momentous accomplishment and do some self-five's.
Special thanks to my extensive editorial/emotional support network, including, but not limited to: my amazing/supportive parents and sister (esp. Mom for her numerous rounds of editing), my bosses Cecilia and Jane, Sami, John Kelly, Shanika, Christina, Sarah, Rose, Sloane, Matt, Annie Wu, and every other person who gave advice or let me talk about my portfolio ad nauseam.
I'm so excited!