Question: My parents don’t understand what I do as a designer and they worry about my future and finances. Is it worth trying to explain it to them? – Amy, 23
Answer: It’s a shame you didn’t study medicine, Amy – we wouldn’t be having this problem. Having a doctor in the family is so easy to explain: “Have you met our Amy? She saves lives AND fixed Jill’s sinus problem!” Unfortunately design is a little harder to understand.
So your parents might not know a good rebrand from a barstool. Why should you explain yourself? Well, let’s cut to the chase. Not explaining yourself… well, it’s kind of arrogant, really. To your parents it says, “What I do is beyond your understanding. I don’t really need you to know or care about my life.” Except this isn’t really true. Because you care about what your parents think – you’re writing to me about it, after all. So, in short, it is absolutely worth trying to explain it to them.
What you have is a PR problem. Your parents are focused on different things to you. They’re worried you’re not paying the bills. So, first up, just give them some examples of designers who are doing a-okay. I know it’s hard to believe but there are a bunch of us who actually have savings accounts and earn an income and live in places with heaters and can afford those really expensive designers socks from that shoe place in Degraves. Living the dream, in other words.
Secondly, just tell the truth. Tell your folks it’s what you’re passionate about. We don’t find meaning in our bank account, we find it in the work we do. Whatever means something to you, whatever gets you out of bed, that’s what matters here. You need to find out what you want from this industry and explain it to the people you care about, so they can share the vision with you. But remember that you’re not asking for permission or seeking acceptance – if they still don’t see eye-to-eye after a good ol’ heart-to-heart, it’s officially their problem. Because at the end of the day, Amy, it’s not your parent’s careers we’re talking about here, it’s yours.
Dizzee Askall will be delivering a weekly lowdown on your design-related dilemmas. If you’re in need of advice or answers, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org