I’m afraid of not growing as a designer.

This is one of many Fear Confessions in which creatives share personal stories about facing their fears. Let’s celebrate vulnerability with Alicia Carvalho as she shares her fear of not growing as a designer.

One of my favourite small design studios in town is currently hiring a full-time designer, and I was beyond excited when they called me in for an interview. Am I looking for a full-time job? No, not really. I’ve been freelancing in one form or another for a little over two years now. However, I am always on the lookout. If the right full-time position comes along, I am ready to take it – or so I thought.

Overall, the interview went pretty smoothly, so I started dreaming. If I join this studio, I can work with really experienced designers and learn new processes to further build my design skills. I will be constantly challenged creatively and have the chance to work on cool and conceptual large-scale projects.

However, if I keep freelancing I can work in my pjs. I can leave the office at 3 p.m. and enjoy the rest of summer. I can go out of town for a long weekend and still be able to do my work.

As all these thoughts swirled through my brain, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being selfish. Did I want to keep freelancing for selfish reasons? That didn’t seem right.

After a short, confusing, tearful breakdown my mind was clearer. I realized that my biggest fear was feeling like I was not going to grow as a designer if I didn’t take this studio job. In school, you are constantly being challenged by your classmates and teachers to work harder and think more creatively and conceptually. This was the definition of being a great designer.

Building up my own roster of clients and running a small business may not have challenged me the same way a design studio would. However, I have attained so many other skills in the process. I am constantly reading design and business books, planning new personal projects and collaborations, and attending workshops and conferences. This is all part of growing as a designer as well, simply in a different way.

It’s easy to get stuck in other people’s definition of success. It is so important to take a step back and think about what success means to you and what it is you are hoping to achieve.

In short, it’s become clear to me that I do not want to go back to a full-time position and give up on the little freelance dream I have worked so hard to create for myself. For now, I am defining my own success as building up my studio. In case I change my mind, studio jobs will always be around.

Alicia is a freelance graphic designer. Born in Africa, growing up in Portugal and now living in Vancouver, Canada, she has a strong desire to continue traveling and exploring the world. When Alicia isn’t pushing pixels onscreen you can find her reading, Instagramming or exploring hand lettering. She’s obsessed with eating popcorn, nerds out hardcore to good type and loves all things sea life (especially seals, they are the best!).

Image credit: Alicia Carvalho

  1. I love the fear confessions series and am excited (and maybe a little nervous) to be a part of it. Thanks for having me over Krystle!

  2. Love this confession! Glad your intuition stepped in and revealed the real issue, Alicia!

    I, too, have had those moments when I think about how much easier it would be to get a “regular” job instead of work for myself, but then I am reminded that I have worked diligently for the past four years to create a ridiculous amount of freedom in my life so that I can live as adventurously as I want, and then the moment to go out and get a 9 to 5 fades and I return to working on *my business* instead of helping someone else with theirs!

    Yes, I made the decision 4 years ago that I no longer wanted to work for someone else because I craved the ability to dictate how much money I made, but I still have the make that decision EVERY SINGLE DAY.