It’s 7:53 AM. I can’t stop my legs from thumping, and I know it’s because I’m excited/nervous about my graduation.
I got the UX internship at Cooper in San Francisco, and I was offered a scholarship for the Masters in Design Studies at Parsons The New School of Design in New York City. They make me excited and nervous too.
So, there are three things keeping my knees bouncing and my eyes open: the graduation, working at Cooper, and enrolling at Parsons.
1. The Graduation
The thought of leaving Carnegie Mellon University genuinely makes me sad because it’s been such an amazingly good fit. I basically went through the five stages of grief when the graduate admission office told me to go elsewhere for my masters. But I’ve gone through those five hoops.
I guess another part of it is that there’s this sense that I didn’t do everything I was supposed to. I was academically successful, but whoop-de-doo. Outside of my projects, I wasn’t very experimental or daring until my last year. Even then, I’ve been tame. I’ve been a coward in a lot of ways for my whole life, but at least I’ve been able to admit it. I’ll give myself a little credit for at least being a little more adventurous each year, but still, there are a million “college experiences” I missed out on.
I’m not dumb enough to try to rush through them in these last few days, but I do feel hyperaware of how the clock is ticking down. Just a few more days, and then the bucket list becomes the regret list. So which things should I do with these precious last few days? Soon, I won’t have a campus or collegiate accomplices. What to do, what to do.
2. Working at Cooper
This one is short.
I’ve been doing freelance work on the side for years, but I don’t actually know anything about working in a professional studio. Sure I can imagine what it’s like, but I have no way of knowing for sure how close my imagination is to reality. Doing my best has done well for me in school, but I was also paying customer. What the hell should I expect?
I keep telling myself that I was good enough for them to hire me and give me a chance, and even if I don’t have the expertise to know for myself that I’ll do well, they do. So, maybe I should just stop worrying. But still, this is going to be an entirely different way of doing things for me even if only because the schedule will be so different. Or at least I assume it will be. But what do I know? And here we are, back at the beginning of this section.
Going to get my undergraduate degree, I was swimming with the rest of the fish. But going on to grad school to be a design theorist? Not as many fish with me now. And a design theorist who also wants to be a practitioner? It makes perfect sense in my mind, and I can describe what I envision it in a way that’ll get people to say how much it makes sense, but the truth is that I’m going outside the recommendations for both normal design practice and normal design academia.
Not only that, but I honestly feel a huge weight as I enter the field of Design Studies. It has been made very clear that it’s an incredibly young field with unbelievably few people in it. Considering how much power and influence design itself has, you’d think that there’d be a healthy community of theorists to “steer the ship.”
Frankly, there isn’t. There’s barely anyone. There should absolutely be more design theorists and more rigor in our studies. It’s terrifying. Even if I was to have a change of heart right this instant and decide that this field wasn’t for me, I’d still be terrified because I can’t “un-know” how design influences absolutely everything, yet moves forward based on what just a barely existent handful of people suppose. Every mistake I make as a design theorist could have disastrous consequences.
For example, what if some theory I develop leads to some designer making a missile control interface with a design defect that causes the operator to accidentally blow up the wrong target? Or the wrong city? Or the world? Maybe a farfetched example, but what chills me is that maybe it’s not so farfetched. But if that example is too much to take seriously, then restrain your own imagination as much as you deem fit and think for yourself about the kind of impacts design could possibly have on urbanization, modernization, healthcare, warfare, and so on.
Even if I don’t make a theory that leads to disaster, my theories could still be terrible merely by being an obstacle to other theories that would do real good. What if I cause something to never be discovered or explored? Nobody would ever know. We’d just be doomed to something worse than something else, and we’d never actually know what we could’ve had or how bad we have it relative to that denied possibility.
So that’s why the situation scares me, and consequently, that’s why I feel a huge responsibility. And I haven’t even begun my studies at Parsons yet. Yikes.
It’s 9:06. I’m going to try to go to bed again.