Chelsea & The City: “I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be”

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The other day I was going through a bunch of papers and found my big print portfolio. You know, the one your professor made you spend $80 on before iPad’s became popular. Along with a bunch of my work from high school / freshman / sophomore year that is quite hilarious.

I started going through my portfolio and was actually really happy I had it. It’s been a long time since I have looked back to the work I did at my first internship (even though it was just 3 years ago) and not to mention high school. Now I’m a little confused on how I even got my first internship – thank you, Claire Regan, for believing in me!

Here are a few of my stories / comments about a few pages from the past few years.

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1. 2009 / Cedar Post / High School senior
This page actually got me in more trouble than I ever would have imagined. I had countless meetings with parents and faculty because of our story “Drinking, Drugs and Dances”. In the end we made a huge difference in our school and the protocol for policing dances completely changed. Not to mention I became way less popular (major high school problems).

2. 2010 / Staten Island Advance / College freshman
This page is from my first internship at the Staten Island Advance. I learned so much about working at a publication and grew a lot in my design skills that summer. I am so thankful for that opportunity that really started me out on the right path.

3. 2011 / Ball State Daily News / College sophomore
This was one of my very first front pages for the Daily News. It is so funny to look at these – I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily I got better.

4. 2011 / Wall Street Journal / College junior
I actually am still pretty happy with this page. The original idea was to photograph someone riding a bike with all of these gadgets attached, but I pitched this idea and it worked!

5. 2012 / Ball State Daily News / College junior
This was one of those nights where all of our front page packages fell through and we were left with a story that had no art. I did this illustration in a few hours and actually ended up winning quite a few awards for it.

6. 2012 / Ball Bearings / College senior
My last semester I redesigned our student magazine, Ball Bearings. It was a huge process, but I think it turned out pretty well (thanks to countless critiques from Jennifer Palilonis and Ryan Sparrow). Later I also converted the new design into a tablet version as well.

Seeing these actually really encouraged me. I get down on myself a lot because I feel completely inadequate and totally unsure of what I’m doing sometimes. But then I look at things like this and see how much I have improved over the past few years.

I get really impatient with myself and a lot of the time forget that I only graduated four months ago and need to calm down. I’m not perfect – and I don’t want to be. If we were all perfect we would have no room left to improve and never be able to look forward to anything. My boyfriend always says that the minute you start thinking you are the best at something, that’s when you aren’t. I am so thankful to be in a place surrounded by people I can learn from everyday. I can’t wait to look back at this post in 20 years to see how far I have come! Learning is a beautiful thing.

—Chelsea

(Chelsea Kardokus is a freelance designer for TIME magazine in New York City. See more of her work here.)