As I grow and develop different interests and tastes, I find I have to continually remind myself that there are no real set "rules" to anything in life.
In my own life, I've always created expectations and rules for the things I do. What are the exact steps to writing my own thoughts down? There must be a guideline to painting, and if I don't follow it, I will look like a fool! My goodness, how terrible!
I can tell you now, this is an awful attitude, and I've been struggling against it since I was a kid. I was on a softball team as a child (it was one of the many, very short-lived activities that I tried), and I retain one vivid memory from that time:
Us little tykes were all lined up, in our typical order of alphabetical by last name, waiting for a turn to bat. Little did I know, my sweet mom had suggested to the coach that it might be nice to reverse the order (my last name, Schneider, ensured that I was never first in any activity... in this case, I was absolute last). So the coach announced that "Anna Schneider is up first!".
I stared at him. This did not make any sense. I was always last. So I told him that.
"No, no, Anna, you're first today", he answered. I stared at him again, feeling my face grow hot with embarrassment, the prickle of tears, my throat going tight.
"No," I remember whispering, "I go last".
This continued on for a little bit. I believe the poor, bewildered coach managed to eventually coerce me into hitting the ball first... but my night had been ruined. I was devastated.
Well... I can laugh about it now. But why am I remembering this when I design?
It's the one memory I draw on the most whenever I start to get caught up on my own self-imposed rules. Thinking about it allows me to take a step back, question my current thoughts and attitudes about something (such as an assignment, or something for a client), and realize that there is no set rule for this particular piece... because I haven't created it yet. Yes, there are suggestions, principles, and guidelines, but no, there aren't any damn rules.
So, as a parting thought, let me ask you... have you ever created false rules and expectations in your head, only to realize that they don't actually exist?