Over the last seven months of my MA Service Design course, the importance of reflections has been accentuated. Before that, my sub-conscience often failed to actively register reflections, hindering the potential for further critical thinking. Seven months of deliberate and purposeful reflection allowed me to be authentic in the self and peer assessment exercise in the Proposal Development Unit, wherein we have to explore our interests and begin to develop the topic for our thesis. This exercise took me back to day 1 of the course where we were asked to create a User Manual. I looked back on the overwhelming amount of knowledge and skills I have gained since then and began to reassess my strengths and weaknesses. I realised over the course that my main learnings have been from my peers, allowing me to repeatedly evaluate what I should be striving for.
I have always been a perfectionist, but this cohort inspired me to be good at my work while not being perfect. The journey to this realisation was not a simple one — it involved months of self-doubt, panic, and questioning choices. With perfectionism came an inherent habit of comparison and self-criticism, hints of which are still hard to brush off. As I noted down the areas I could improve in, comments from my peers validated those skills, telling me that I was already quite good at them. This made me realise that I often think about what I do not have, and this negative approach stops me from building those skills effectively. Conversely, if I did appreciate the limited skill that I possess and strived to hone it further, it would mean I will get there faster. Even then, there would always be room for improvement.
The last 4 projects have all been team efforts, allowing me enough time to think about who I work well with. As I noted this down, I realised I often look for traits similar to mine when given the choice to choose who I want to work with. I have an affinity towards peers who organise themselves well, are responsible, and take the project as enthusiastically as I do. I failed to realise that a team is only balanced when different people come together, allowing diverse methods and perspectives to be an important part of the process and project. Upon further reflection, the presence of complementary skill sets became more prominent. As we advance solo into the thesis phase, working individually would mean that I would need to make these complementary skills a part of my skillset, consciously reminding myself that I need to improve and not try to be perfect. However, our tutor informed us that we would be working alone but yet together — forming squads and support groups to help each other with our major projects, giving us the perfect opportunity to bounce our ideas off and leverage those complementary skills.
As we explored topics that we are interested in, reading about my peers’ interests helped me build on mine too. I found that many of us were interested in tackling similar issues that were a cumulative realisation of the last seven months and our experiences before coming to this MA. Even though I am still undecided on the specifics, my peers motivate me to explore the topic I am interested in, bring more knowledge to the table as we advance through this unit.