Do it your way

Michael Clement, Former Design Editor

Think about where you want to be in 10 years. Where in the world do you want to live? What kind of job do you want to have? How much money will you have saved up for then?

Have some ideas in mind? Great. Now throw those out the window.

Sometimes things do not go as planned. Often the trajectory of our lives changes, and our goals adjust accordingly — and that’s OK. Though you may seem lost without a set path in front of you, that does not mean there isn’t one to create yourself.

Michael Clement’s illustrations and graphics have been included in 36 articles for The Chronicle. Nicole McIsaac/Chronicle

I joined The Chronicle wanting to write about sports. I wound up writing one sports story before jumping around between news, opinion and arts & life. This year, I helped design the newspaper’s layout each week.

I was a slacker at first. I did not know where I was going post-graduation, and I did not know how the paper could help me get there. I used to show up to meetings without any intention of taking a story assignment, let alone becoming an editorial board member years down the road.

It’s a scary thing not knowing what life is like on the other side of your 20s, and it can easily demoralize you from taking risks. I needed a wake-up call to write more, and it was not until someone whose work I looked up to pulled me aside to motivate me.

Frustrated by my lack of engagement, my former news editor told me that I needed to grow up and have more confidence in my work. She saw what I was capable of and believed in my work before I even saw what I could do. She took a bet on my work ethic, and to both of our surprise, she was right.

From that point forward, I became more daring to try new things. I began to expand my horizons in writing and started to learn how to use design software. I took more risks with my work, and I started being recognized for it.

The key to creating your own path is perseverance. Believe that you are capable and have confidence in your own craft. Push yourself beyond your limits and do not be afraid to fall short because failure is a more valuable experience than success.

What we want to do freshman year of college is not always what we do after we graduate. In my college career, I switched majors, classes and even advisors until I found what was right for me. There is no cookie-cutter path in this world that everyone follows. Create your own and do it your way.

Infographic by Xavier Cullen