Question: “I’m thinking of doing a postgraduate course in design having already completed a degree in Biomechanics but realising it just wasn’t where I wanted to be. I can’t help but feel I wasted all those years and that money. Is it worth the career change? Am I too late coming into the industry?” – Dean, 26
Answer: Recently, I asked a dear friend of mine about her love life. Had she found McDreamy? She replied that, at the tender age of 28, love had passed her by. She had a good thing, she blew it, and now Cupid is a million miles away, listening to Kendrick’s latest record.
Maybe biomechanics is your bad romance, Dean. I know you’re thinking about the money you don’t have and resenting all that misplaced knowledge, but do you really think those years were wasted? Is it not just like a break up? Sure, we look back sometimes and get bitter that they stole our favourite mug, but it’s important to remember what we learnt about ourselves. Mistakes aren’t really mistakes – just experiences that lead us to where we are. Besides, what are you gaining from persisting with kinematics and isotonic muscle action? You’ll work on a skill you don’t like and keep doing a thing that makes you miserable. Woohoo.
How old will you be by the time you learn InDesign? The same age you’ll be if you don’t. Julia Cameron is right. Telling ourselves it’s too late to do something is one of the most potent artist blocks. A way of avoiding the fear of starting something for the first time, because there’s a damn good chance we’ll fail. But, most of the time, it’s exactly what we need to do. All we really need is a beginner’s mindset.
And, regarding this industry: it’s full of late bloomers. I know designers who have been sculptors, lawyers, teachers and marketing managers. All are better designers because of their previous life. And they make great students, because postgraduate study is a choice people care about. So don’t get too wrapped up in chasing a career Dean. Try design, and if that’s no good, try something else. You can’t level jump finding a meaningful life – you just have to brave each step. Theodore Roethke said it best: “I learn by going where I have to go.”
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 or tweet @sdhelvetica with the hashtag #dizzeeaskall