I thought the high of being a d.school fellow would continue forever. The d.school is so much fun. How could one not retain its energy, color, and creative fuel permanently and effortlessly? The fact is, holding on to all of that takes effort.
It can be such an emotional downer to finish some of my days at the d.school now that I have finished the program. Yet I still choose to show up here every morning, because I just don't want to leave, and the place brings me so much joy.
Thankfully, the d.school has no strict policy for kicking its fellows out. So, I just keep showing up and fill whiteboards with ideas around my project work. In fact, graduation felt more like an interruption to my workflow. Now, in its wake, my project is taking off and I'm busier than ever. Well, the truth is that all of my projects -- plural -- are taking off. The number of projects I have in the works at any given moment depends on how you group them and what kind of thematic lines you draw down my to-do list.
The d.school, the people, the work - they are like ambrosia to me. Yet I'm caught in a paradox: I have no complaints -- none; I have the dream job, and yet I cannot help but feel this very real emotional letdown when I leave at the end of the day.
My day starts with me diving into big projects - take today's work:
- I drew up plans for a series of workshop with the TSA and Department of Energy, helping engineers to use the tools of design thinking to better understand their partners.
- I continued a running discussion with George Kembel, the global director and co-founder of the d.school, about asking better questions. Then I held a brainstorm with a colleague on how we can gather great minds to brainstorm design thinking-based experiences to help people at every level of an organization ask better questions.
- My team and I brainstormed "how might we"-questions and framing statements. We drafted a narrative arc for an agriculture technology transmedia storytelling campaign.
And those are just the highlights. I have yet to see a great creative endeavor contained in 90 minutes, the time a typical, basic design intro by the d.school lasts. But the emotional ups and downs of a lengthy creative process make it very hard to find balance in one's life.
Sometimes the ideas in my head feel like a storm that I can't turn off. It's glorious and the lightning is beautiful, but it gets exhausting. I also hear that it's good practice to open your mail when you get home and clean the house every once in a while. 'Just a rumor.
Today, I've started to work on leaving. I could stay at those floor-to-ceiling whiteboards at the d.school forever, but as thankful as I am to be here, I know a permanent residency at the d.school is not the right path for me. I want to open my own design and storytelling firm one day.
Before I walked out, I started what might need to become a daily ritual of letting go. This ritual includes expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with these people in this space and on these challenges. I'm not sure how many days I will need before an extended period without coming to the d.school. Perhaps it will be on the day when, not too far in the future, the work I have done and continue to do here will transform into experiences, taking engineers, farmers, executives, and students from all over the world through journeys to creativity and innovation.