The Design Learning Struggle

Published on: July 17, 2017

Filled Under: Resources/Information

Views: 889

From a e-newletter I get from David Kadavy –  DeAnn


“You’re terrible, and I’m done dancing with you.”

There I was, standing on the dance floor alone. The timbas were snickering at me, while the brass horns blared with laughter. The other dancers may as well have been spectators of a bull slaughter.

What she had actually said was “thank you for the dance,” but from behind a grimaced grin, while sliding away, most importantly – in the middle of a song.

That’s “you’re terrible, and I’m done dancing with you” in Salsa speak. And also, “nobody else will ever want to dance with you, so you should go take up chess or something, white boy.”

Okay, maybe that last part was my own brain heckling me.

A few months prior, some friends had taken me Salsa dancing for the first time. Once the lesson was over and I had learned the basic steps, the band started playing, and the dance floor flooded with soaring arms and whipping hair.

What I saw seemed nothing like what I had learned. As I stared at the dancers’ feet, the steps seemed random to me. What ever happened to 1, 2, 3 – 5, 6, 7!?

As foreign as those steps seemed, the music told me they were right. An arm shot up toward the sky as a horn blared, toes and heels pounded the floor with the sound of the piano, and shoulders shimmied with the strike of a bongo. It was as if the bodies, themselves, were playing the song.

As I watched, I could feel the twists and turns in my own limbs. My legs twitched, and my arms burned. I shared the smiles I saw, but I couldn’t move like that. My own body felt like a trap.

My attention was diverted for a moment to a feeling beneath my scalp. It was a faint tingling, as if dormant tributaries of neurons were shaking themselves off, like night-shift firefighters at the sound of an alarm.

I knew something was changing. I’d never be the same.

I knew I’d have to face obstacles, internal and external, to get myself free.

“Here we go,” I thought to myself. “This isn’t going to be easy.”

I had that moment to blame for standing on this dance floor, alone in this moment. I knew it probably wouldn’t be the last time.

When you decide to face a difficult challenge, even in the face of certain (repeated) failure and humiliation, it’s not a casual endeavor.

You do it because there is an opposing force. One that is equally as strong as the deterrent of certain (repeated) failure and humiliation.

In the process of learning design, you’ve faced moments of frustration, anxiety, and a feeling of overwhelm. You’ve done that because, at some point, you had a moment of inspiration heavy enough to counter those feelings of discomfort.

What was your “here we go…” moment? When did you know you wanted to learn design? Hit “reply,” and I’ll read every response.


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