~ 3 Minute 40 Second Read
Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel inadequate? These are some instances you may not have realized had been devaluing yourself:
I have some people in my life who I know have good intentions but they sometimes don’t realize that what they say or do can have an affect. For example, I am one of those people graced with a younger looking face. At age 21, I was carded for a 14A movie. I am now 24 and one of my neighbours asked me which high school I go to. Then I had to explain: Oh, actually I’ve already graduated from 2 post-secondary institutions. Now this is fine with me, I don’t really mind in my personal life but when it comes to my professional life it does hinder me a bit.
I previously worked at a company where my boss had the same name as me and this resorted into her calling me “the kid”, “little Ashley” or “junior”. Don’t get me wrong, I do not take offence to these at all and I love her to death. Over time they basically felt like having a pet name. But being introduced as one of those to others will always send a wavelength of “Uh oh, she introduced me as a kid. I will no longer be taken seriously.” This doesn’t happen often and for the most part she will call me her “Junior Designer” which is completely professional and exactly appropriate. It’s just those times when I want to make a good first impression and then suddenly a shadow casts over me during her introduction.
Another example is when I started to become more active on my Ash Robertson Design page on Facebook and Instagram. I had been posting designs and links to my projects for a few weeks and wasn’t getting much feedback. (Which is understandable – it was pretty new and I was just starting to pick up some consistency). I had a professional headshot taken for my job and decided to swap out my profile picture to this new one. Immediately, a much larger reaction. I’ve always had a hard time explaining to my mom what I do. I don’t know if she totally gets it. So when she shared my profile picture, there was a moment of me thinking: Sigh, I’ve been posting all of this work and the one thing she shares is my profile picture. But I laughed it off because I know she does have those good intentions.
But then, that post started blowing up (at least compared to my other posts). I received 4 shares from friends and family which was great but it wasn’t really providing anyone with information on my business or what I do. At that point in time I was on the lookout for some more clients to pick up in my part-time freelancing but nothing really came of it. I think if someone were to share my work, more people would have the opportunity to be impressed by it and I could possibly get a lead out of it. I’m not sure who’s going to look at a headshot of me and say, “Damn, that girl can DESIGN”.
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Last but not least one of the things that could be devaluing you is yourself. I like to talk a big game and hand out my own words of wisdom but it’s hard for me to take my own advice. The older I’m getting and the more experiences that I’ve been putting myself through has really given me more confidence in my work. Before I didn’t really know what set me apart as a graphic designer and why someone would choose me over another talented artist. The world of art is the world of comparing. There is so much out there that you can often get caught up in comparing your work to others and making yourself believe you aren’t good enough. You will soon learn there is always room for improvement and for new imaginative solutions to take projects. But there’s a lot more to being a good designer than only having a creative mind. You have to have the proper equipment, specific software skills, excellent time management, the ability to keep up with technological advancements, written and verbal skills, and much more. That’s where your value comes in.
The further I grow and the more time I spend on work, the more I realize where my value is. I’ve started to pinpoint thoughts running through my head that the average person doesn’t consider. For example: file format settings (DPI, RGB/CMYK, bleeds), type hierarchy, alignment, leading/kerning of text, colour schemes, functionality of a website, UX/UI design, which program to use for which project, etc. When you’re in school for a specific degree, everyone around you is learning the same subject so it tricks you into thinking everyone around you already knows what you know. That is not the case. You’re the one that went to design school, not your client. If they did, they wouldn’t be hiring you to do the work for them. Remember that the next time someone is asking you to whip something up for you quickly or to do something extra for little to no money.
I need to work on this myself. I need to be confident enough to say, “Yes I can do that for you but it will cost x amount of money.” or “Sure but as that is not in our contract, there will be an additional charge on your invoice.” and even valuing my own time by saying, “Of course, since this was not in our initial agreement, it will be an additional charge of ($). If this is okay, I will have that done for you by Monday.” I am the biggest over-thinker and find confrontation and business very scary. I am always afraid of doing the wrong thing or asking for the wrong amount but although there are standards – nothing is designated. If I’m freelancing, I set my own pricing by what seems reasonable to myself. And that’s super important for me to repeat to myself.
I hope these thoughts have convinced both sides of the spectrum; those that may have accidentally devalued someone that’s trying to grow or to those of you devaluing yourselves and who needed a boost of confidence. We all have something to offer and it’s times like these I think of the quote, “80% of success is showing up”. No matter what, if you show up to a meeting and are open in communication – you’re better than the next guy that forgot to reply or suddenly was MIA. You’re already a step ahead and the work hasn’t even started yet.
Good luck to everyone out there who’s on a mission to get recognized in their line of work. Whether it’s online, in your current position, future projections of a new position, or anything of the sort. Your persistence means you deserve it.