The Current State of My Life at 22
A graphic designer. An aspiring entrepreneur. A student.
These are the facets that make up the current state of my life. Today, on my 22nd birthday, I want to reflect on the impact that these three features has had on my past, present, and future.
A graphic designer
I’ve been into designing ever since grade 7 when I first picked up Photoshop. Up until grade 11 I was just casually designing anything I thought looked cool. And then I was introduced to 99Designs. After entering a few contests, I had finally won $300 for one of my logos. As a broke, unemployed high school kid, this was amazing. It was the first time I got a taste of how my designing abilities can be applied to the real world.
Fast forward a few years to today.
My design abilities are still far from amazing, but I’ve been pretty fortunate. I have had the privilege to design for startups and individuals from all around the world. My logos have been published in two books and featured on a few reputable design websites. And lastly the scope of my design abilities have expanded from just Logos to User Interface and Print design. Starting in a few weeks I’ll be participating in Fellowship Program with MyPlanet Digital, where I get to learn design from industry professionals.
Design has taught me how to see the world through a different set of lens. I learned over the years that designing is more than just about making things look nice. Its about solving problems and finding ways to make things better. Having worked in an industry that delivers innovative solutions, I try to approach everything I interact with using the same creative mindset.
An aspiring entrepreneur
I say ‘aspiring’ because I feel that the title of entrepreneur has become loosely used. People nowadays can simply register a domain name and call themselves an entrepreneur or founder of a company (In fact, I was one of those people). And while I do believe I have the entrepreneurial mindset, I don’t have anything substantial yet that makes me deserving of the title. As an extension of my design side, I have always been curious about solving problems. Not problems as in math equations, but inefficiencies that people encounter in their daily lives. I’m not a very sociable guy, but in my second year of university I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended the Impact Entrepreneurship Conference by myself. This was one of the best decisions of my life, as I was introduced to Jon and Dami who I now consider lifelong entrepreneurship partners and friends. During the conference we saw an opportunity to build something big, and worked all night to release our first version of Knok.Me. Two years later, we’re just weeks away from the official launch of Knok.Me. Its been an incredible journey and only just the beginning.
A few months ago, Jon, Dami, and I built CampusRides to test our ability to work as a team. In one weekend we went from having an idea to launching an actual service that students used to find carpool opportunities. Seeing people use a product I helped make was a truly amazing feeling. Launching CampusRides and building Knok.Me made me realize my passion for creating something that can one day be used by millions of people.
In the past few years I also learned the importance of surrounding myself with smart people. I am fortunate to be part of a group, TBIP, who I consider my second family. These are some of the smartest people I know and every one of them has shaped or motivated me in some way.
I’m in the Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) program at the University of Waterloo. Like many others, I joined this program because I wanted to become a professional accountant and pursue a CA designation (My high school teacher made me think I kicked ass in accounting, which generated a false interest for it in my head).
After first year I realized that this was not what I truly wanted, and my illusive interest for accounting vanished. At this point I reevaluated my goals for staying in the program. While I no longer wanted to become an accountant and pursue a CA designation, being in AFM provides me with a solid background of financial and accounting knowledge. And as a potential business owner, understanding how money works in a company is still a valuable thing to know. With this mindset, sticking around in the program didn’t seem like a bad choice.
Thanks to co-op I was also able to work in a few companies and experience the corporate world.
At 22, I truly believe that my life is good. How did I get to this point? Here are my suggestions:
- Do what you love, and surround yourself with people who will support and motivate you.
- Don’t be envious of people who are more successful than you. Instead, figure out how they achieved success and use their experience as a template to guide you.
- If you’re wasting a lot of time doing something irrelevant that keeps you from reaching your aspirations, cut it out as soon as possible.
- Saying that you don’t have the skills or educational background to do anything is not a valid excuse. Use the internet as a learning tool.
"Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you" - Steve Jobs