Busy is a Decision

Debbie Millman: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later
Debbie Millman: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later

Recently, I went to a talk about rejection—in particular, how rejection can shape your life, hosted by Designers + Geeks. The speaker was Debbie Millman, the president of AIGA. She spoke candidly about her experiences that led up to her role, with lots of fun and sad and poignant anecdote.

Debbie Millman always wanted to be a designer but she never had the proper training. She was rejected over and over at various jobs. But somehow, she made it. Her twenties were horrible. Her thirties were ok. But it was her forties and late into forties that she really loved her life. Each rejection, she shied more and more away from her goal. But each rejection led her to something that was better for her.

What I took away from the talk was following your dream, no matter how tough it is or how dejected you are. Everyone is a critic but no one is the worst critic than yourself.

Realization that one has to believe in oneself is of utmost importance.

I left telling myself that I shouldn’t give up. I would convince myself when a job passed me over or when a job became a nightmare that I wasn’t good enough or I made some horrible mistake.

So I decided that while design pays the bill, I can pursue writing on the side. I had always dreamed of writing a published novel. I have to make time and truly believe in myself and not listen to all the critics.

I’m always reminded that in college, I wrote. A lot. In total, I wrote seven completed novellas, several short stories, and several incomplete stories. I didn’t care what people thought. I was having fun writing, I met so many people on forum boards and made some lifelong friends.

What happened from that point to now that I got so conscious and ashamed to share my work?

Somewhere out in the fan fiction world, my stories are being rewritten over and over by other writers. It’s a form of flattery when someone is reusing your work.

I leave you with a short video from Dove that asks a similar question.