Hannah Jiang

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💭 Creative Date – Me and Myself

I went to a UX event by myself on Tuesday, UX managers from big companies talked about the future of UX regarding artificial intelligence. I have never been a socially active person, so attending an event alone like this is definitely out of my comfort zone. I had a question that I wanted to ask one of the speakers after the talk, but all the speakers were talking with each other so I didn’t have the courage to interrupt their conversation and draw the attention to me. The moment I turned around and walked away from the speakers, I started reproaching myself and had this strong feeling against my self-esteem. I got into the elevator, got out of the fancy building, right in front of which is the charging bull, the symbol of Wallstreet. I was walking in the center of the city’s financial district, drown by the questions in my head, “Why didn’t you…? Why can’t you…?”

The self-questioning didn’t just start that day, it happened quite often since school started. The day before the UX event I felt I gave a terrible presentation in the class, I was quite excited about the idea I came up with after 2 days of research, but I wasn’t able to explain it well and I almost bored myself. One thing after another, I felt like I had a breakdown on Tuesday night. Wallstreet is about one hour away from where I live, I got on the train, picked a seat that has no one around it, put on my headsets, and started to have a conversation with myself.

“Why did you put yourself in this situation?”
“Because there are things I want to learn.”

Two years ago I was on a trip to New York, I remember that was a beautiful sunny day, I was waiting for the traffic light on a sidewalk in Times Square, looking around at the huge advertising screens which I had seen so many times on TV and in movies, I suddenly had this idea, “I wish I could study here”, not as a tourist who was just passing by, not as a local New Yorker who would suffer from work stress, but as a student. Back then I was a freelance UX designer, working with clients from all over the world remotely while having the freedom of traveling around, getting well paid, enjoying the lifestyle as a “digital nomad”. But I knew there were more for me to learn, I could be a better designer. So I decided to come here, spent all my savings, and became a student in New York City.

“I know you’ve been through the same situation before, learn from that.”

Four years ago I joined an international startup, where I used English as a working language for the first time. My coworkers were from the U.S. and France, it was a small company so we always had lunch together, I remember I wasn’t able to understand most of the jokes they told, had no idea what everyone was laughing about, hoping no one could notice me. I was living one hour and a half away from the company, every morning on my way to work I felt this heaviness in my heart telling me that I don’t want to go to that office. It took me 3 months until I got used to the English speaking environment. That was a tough 3 months, I remember the pain from self-doubts and diffidence, but the pain was the reason why I could speak English fluently afterward and got clients from all over the world. Whenever I felt the same pain, I knew I was growing up and becoming stronger.

“Don’t fight against the negative feelings, embrace them.”

This conversation I had with myself got me out of the gloomy mood I had been suffering from for days, and in the end, it made me feel delighted, knowing the fact that I am more grown up than I was 4 months ago.

Got off the subway, I changed the song on my headphones to Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift, with a cheering and silvery voice she sang, “Everybody here wanted something more… Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you…”